7th National Meeting of the Italian Aniridia association: Ten Years of Confrontation

The setting was Abano Terme (Padua) over the weekend of the 20-22 of November 2015. The atmosphere was one of continuous sharing, community and hope for the future. Families children and adults discussed, played and learnt together over a memorable eventful weekend.
The conference started on Saturday with a round table entitled ‘Sport and Courage – The balance in life’. A session of two and a half hours, led by the Vice president of the Aniridia Italy Association, Matteo Castelnuovo, which saw participants of competitive sports sharing their stories of success, failure, collaboration and challenges that allowed them to overcome their fears to succeed at high levels.

Participants included: Veronica Tartaglia (Fencing), Andrea Bellè (Personal trainer), Christina Albicini and Michael Pellegrino (Swimming), Marco Longo (Extreme sport – Open water swimming), Sara Pecchia and Thomas Abbruzzo (Martial arts) and Giammaria Dal Maistro (Paralympic Champion 2006 of Alpine ski).
The afternoon workshop was entitled ‘One Tap to Go – A journey in one’s hand’. Veronica Tartaglia and Matteo Castelnuovo explained in 45 minutes the way a smartphone can facilitate travel at home or abroad.
The most awaited round table entitled ‘Big Mama – Strength of a Woman, Courage of a Mother” saw a number of women sharing their stories of motherhood and disability. These shared stories had a common theme of feelings surrounding motherhood and disability, choices and most importantly that of advocacy. The presenters were: Laura Spitaleri (a mother with Aniridia with two children over thirty, one of whom has Aniridia), Silvia Secchi (a blind mother with an eight year old daughter with Aniridia), Sara Pecchia (a young woman with Aniridia who is hoping to have a child) and Daniela Teofili (sighted mother with a pre-adolescent daughter with Aniridia). The discussion was led by Matteo Castelnuovo.
A further workshop ‘Tech Day by day – How talking to your phone does not necessarily mean you are crazy’ was led by Giammaria Dal Maistro. Technological advice, new frontiers and a look at the world of technology which is unfolding before us.

Participants playing and learning at the same time.
Participants playing and learning at the same time.

The final workshop ‘Government and laws – A law is not just words’ saw Christina Giuffredi and Laura Spitaleri (experts in Rights) led by Matteo Castelnuovo discussing rights to access care and medications and equal rights to work.
The evening went on with discussions, stories and shared experiences by young and old. The next morning saw the weekend being brought to an end with Aniridia Italy’s meeting entitled ‘10 years of Confrontation’. The President of the Association Corrado Teofili, the European delegate Barbara Poli, the Treasurer Anna Nardini and the Vice president Matteo Castelnuovo shared information with the guests on the achievements of the association over the last ten years, on what is being done and what can be done for the association that is in a continuous process of growth not only in numbers but also in projects and objectives to achieve.

Overall a successful 48 hours, because ten years are only the beginning of a long and exciting adventure.

A big thank you to all the participants and speakers that were the heart and engine of this operation.