Enrique Grapa Markuschamer

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2016


This profile was prepared when Enrique Grapa Markuschamer was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2016.
The New Idea
Enrique is fundamentally challenging the paradigm surrounding the rights of the mentally disabled in Mexico. The predominant conceptualization today is that mental disability is a defect and a problem for the society. Enrique’s Fundacion Incluyeme is transforming such perspectives into one that emphasizes individual abilities over disabilities, and potential value over potential problems. In Enrique’s programs, adults with disability are placed in the heart of the society rather than hidden from it, so that they learn to lead a truly independent life throughout their entire life as adults.

As declared in the 2007 United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Enrique strongly believes that self-determination and quality of life are two basic human rights for all, regardless of the individual’s mental capacity. Within his vision, quality of life mainly derives from the ability to make decisions-- meaning, the more decisions that one is allowed to make, the happier he or she is. The correlation between the two factors has been corroborated in various cases of international research, and thus forms the central tenet of Enrique’s programs. Self-determination is also important in a pragmatic sense, as it is a necessary skill for disabled adults to survive after their caretaker (typically parents) passes away or can no longer care for them.

Enrique’s approach does not just “socialize” the mentally disabled – rather, it trains them in a holistic manner so that they can become a fully self-determined and functional members of the society. Through Incluyeme’s Vida Independiente (Independent Life) program, each participant is placed in a centrically located apartment in Mexico City, where they live independently away from the family with three other participants. Each resident has a full-time occupation, and is trained to commute back and forth independently, do house chores, and maintain relationships with neighbors and other roommates. The process is moderated, not controlled, by a facilitator figure rather than a caretaker figure, who lives with the participants. Parallel with the Vida Independiente is the Employment program, which matches each person with a job according to their level of intellect. By proving that sustainable independence is the key to happiness for both persons with disability and their families, Enrique is creating real change in the paradigmatic landscape within the area of disability.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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