Celal Karadogan

Ashoka Fellow
Adana, Turkey
Fellow Since 2014


This profile was prepared when Celal Karadogan was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2014.
The New Idea
Turkey’s approach to disability remains plagued by a culture that pities and objectifies the disabled, which results in segregated and charity based interventions, and a lack of role models to challenge existing stereotypes. Youth emerges as both a critical life period and important societal group with the potential to break this vicious cycle, yet without interventions that integrate and empower the youth and disabled, this opportunity goes amiss.

Celal Karadogan aims to turn the double disadvantage of being disabled and young into an advantage and a tool to develop empathy among all youth in Turkey. In his Youth and Disabled Sports Club, Celal runs a comprehensive support program including sports activities, socializing opportunities, education support, career guidance and mentoring, targeting both disabled and non-disabled youth.

The program and Club serve as a unique space free from prejudices and social barriers, where everyone can be equal yet different. A physically disabled boy teaching others basketball or a girl with learning disabilities tutoring a friend become usual, defying the stereotypes and notions around what disabled youth can or cannot do. As a result, youth without disabilities develop empathy and ability to live with differences, while disabled youth find opportunities to lead active and meaningful lives.

Celal is currently spreading his approach and work so that more empowerment spaces such as his club exists for disabled and non-disabled youth. He is consulting country level youth and disability organizations, while also forming a network of disabled sports clubs in 110 locations across the country. Celal’s ultimate goal is to mainstream disability in not only youth organizations but in NGOs from all fields, be them youth, environment, women’s or human rights focused.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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