Lacing up for people with disabilities

This year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) was focused on how disasters affected people living with disabilities. As part of UNISDR’s Communications Unit, we’re responsible for defining the theme, messages, and getting people motivated to take part in the celebrations on 13 October. Even with this global focus, we normally organize something locally in Geneva since it’s where many of our partners and donors are located. I’ve been involved with IDDR since 2010 and we’ve always held a cocktail reception in Geneva where we invite representatives from the UN, permanent mission diplomats, etc. to come to listen to speeches and mingle. This year we wanted to do something different.

After some initial brainstorming, we had roughly a month to organize our local event in Geneva. We decided to organize an afternoon of basketball with UNISDR staff and members of the international community. While we (basically a few people who made up UNISDR’s staff association) were under a bit of pressure to pull it off, it was probably one of the most fun and interesting things we’ve done to promote UNISDR, the International Day, and to get staff involved in something other than sitting in front of their computers. It was also encouraging to see that such a simple idea brought so much energy and interest in the topic. Here’s a summary of this energy:

  • The International School of Geneva let us use their gym and provided most, if not all, of the equipment
  • With very short notice, the Public Transportation of Geneva allowed us to promote the event through throughout all the trams in the city
  • Staff members from UNISDR helped out from volunteering to be on the basketball team, promoting the event to others, printing t-shirts, making cakes and cookies, recruiting their spouses/partners to join the team, and MC’ing the day.
  • CERN, the Latino Carouage, and Les Aigles de Meyrin basketball teams came to show their support for IDDR

There’s probably a lot more things I’ve missed but it was great to see the dedication and commitment of people to help out in organizing the afternoon of basketball. One of the best messages from one of the players was “See you next year!”

Here I am breaking-down some defense…



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