Me at the United Nations

The Day of General Discussion for Inclusive Education in Geneva

When I was 7 years old, I visited the United Nations for the Day of General Discussion for Inclusive Education.  I went with my mum and heard many people talk about inclusive education and why it’s important for every child.

Laura sitting inside a meeting room at the UN.  A woman behind her looks on.
Laura and her mum with disability advocates on the terrace of the UN overlooking Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc.

On the way back to Australia I made a drawing about inclusion and a woman called Torrie Dunlap asked me to write about it.  She works for a place called Kids Included Together that helps children to be more included everywhere.

A drawing by Laura, shows and girl and a boy playing together with a toy car.  They represent Laura and her brother Julius.  The words “People with disabilities should have a right to be included” have been handwritten above the drawing.

This is what I wrote.

United Nations Geneva, Switzerland
By Laura Panetta, 7 years old

Handwritten letter by Laura.

My mum and me travelled from Perth, Australia to Milan, Italy and then by train. The train went to Geneva. We went to the United Nations to listen to people talk about the right to learn with everybody else. This is called inclusion in education.

I heard a girl say that not feeling welcome at school was the hardest thing. I also heard a woman say that they lived in four different countries and it was hard to find a school for her daughter. In Switzerland the only option was to send her daughter to a special school because the other schools wouldn’t let her go there. Children with disability should be able to go to the same school as every-body else and learn and play together.

The United Nations is an important place where countries decide how to do things better. All countries need to be better at including people with disability.

KIT put it on their website here.

KIT also asked me if they could put my drawing on their  “Thank You” cards.




 My speech at the United Nations in New York on World Down Syndrome Day 

I also went to the United Nations in New York on World Down Syndrome Day 2016.  I met lots of interesting and cool people but the coolest was a girl called AnnaRose Rubright who also has Down syndrome like Julius but she is a lot older than him.  She gave a speech about being included and I gave a speech about Julius and why I want him to be in the same school as me.

Here are some photos at the UN.  There is a photo of me speaking at a microphone.  There are also photos of young people with Down syndrome holding signs saying how they see themselves.

Laura UN


Even though Julius wasn’t there with me this time, he watched me at home on the computer though the UN website.

Photo of Julius looking at a computer screen where he can see Laura give a speech at the UN.
Photo of Julius looking at a computer screen where he can see his mum give a speech at the UN. Laura is sitting next to her.


Human Rights Council at the UN in Geneva

When I was 8 years old I went to the UN Geneva again for the 10th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities.  This lasted 3 days and I was in the Human Rights Council with my mum.  The ceiling of the council was really amazing, like colourful stalactites.

Laura is standing at the back of the Human Rights Council pointing at the colourful painted ceiling.
Laura flags 14572814_10210031827093510_8711890770065164789_n.jpg
Laura is standing outside the Palais Des Nations at the UN Geneva.  There are UN country glass behind her and she is smiling and doing a “peace” sign with her fingers.

The President of the Council said that I was the youngest person he had ever seen in the Human Rights Council and he gave me a special welcome.

You can see it here:

My mum and I met Robert Martin who is the first person with an intellectual disability to be on the Committee on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities.  He is very nice and he is fighting for inclusion for everyone too.  I think Julius might want to be part of the UN when he grows up and I have been there so I can help him.

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Robert Martin with Catia Malaquias in the Human Rights Council.

My mum was also helping to launch GADIM, which is the Global Alliance for Disability, Media and Entertainment at the UN in Geneva.  I was there to help her and I wrote things down and made videos when she was speaking.

Photo of UNOG identity badges for the 2016 Social Forum, with the names Laura Milu Malaquias Panetta (GADIM) and Catia Malaquias (GADIM)

After she did that, we went to the Brazilian embassy to learn about the Brazilian culture. It was a lot of fun!

Here are some photos of me waiting to eat some delicious food and watching Brazilian drummers and dancers on a stage.


I’ve been really lucky to go to these amazing places!  I  hope that I can go many more times but now that Julius and my sister Drea are older, they can come too!!

Laura 🙂