Ercan Tutal

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2003
Alternative Camp


This profile was prepared when Ercan Tutal was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
In Turkey–where disability is seen to shame families and where the disabled are hidden away in their homes–Ercan sees that greater public understanding must underpin efforts to advance rights in law and in practice. Further, he sees that people with disabilities can show the way to acceptance and opportunity through their own courage and achievement. The week-long sports camps that form part of his strategy teach disabled participants scuba diving, swimming, horseback riding, wall climbing, table tennis and basketball–activities through which they learn to trust themselves and their abilities. But Ercan's vision does not stop with one camp–or 5 or 10–or even at the country's borders. Instead, he sees the camps, and the alternative education and experience they deliver, as an initial step in moving an entire society toward greater understanding and support of people with mental and physical disabilities. In his mind, the camps are not just for the participants; he expects that the volunteers he recruits will further advance his goals. Strung out web-like across the country, these volunteers–doctors, psychologists, and university students–will push for change in their own communities and professional circles.
Widely documented in print and film and on television, Ercan's work has attracted the attention of a broad, popular audience–in fact, much of Turkey. Now the challenge is to direct this attention toward greater opportunity for the disabled–to help them get and hold jobs, receive medical care appropriate for their conditions, trust those around them, and start their own families.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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