Greece: Daphne Economou

Disabled children have enormous potential, but it often goes unnoticed because of public ignorance and disregard.

— Daphne Economou

Daphne Economou has worked to improve the lives of people with cerebral palsy in Greece, to increase public awareness and eliminate physical, social, and legal barriers. With her leadership, commitment and love, she is the inspiring heart and soul of Cerebral Palsy Greece and has pioneered a wide range of essential services. As chairperson of the International Cerebral Palsy Society, she is a voice for peace and social justice worldwide. She received the Gold Cross of the Order of Bienfaisance from the President of Greece in 2001.

Born and raised in India and England, Daphne Economou is the president of Cerebral Palsy Greece, an organization she founded with her husband to promote awareness of childhood disability issues in 1972. It is a very personal issue: her son was diagnosed with the disease and she was determined to improve the services for cerebral palsy patients in Greece. “I recognized the degree of prejudice and ignorance toward disabled children. But I saw the enormous potential in these children and knew that we needed to promote their skills and contributions,” she explains. Sadly, Daphne lost her 17-year old son to cerebral palsy: “After this devastating loss, I nearly gave up, but I owed it to him to continue my work to offer brave and wonderful children like him a place in the sun.” Because of Daphne’s work and strong resolve, the organization is one of Greece’s most prestigious. She spends considerable time guaranteeing that its operations run smoothly, but her main purpose is to ensure a harmonious atmosphere for the children and their families. She is also closely involved with the International Cerebral Palsy Society (ICPS) and holds the position of the chairman of the Executive Board. She has traveled for her work extensively, published numerous articles, and spoken at many international conferences on childhood disability. She has met with the European Commission and the Council of Europe. Daphne believes that disability is a universal issue without any borders: “We should recognize that the great work in the welfare field has been accomplished because someone refused, as Bob Dylan sings, ‘to turn his head and pretend that he just does not see.’” Daphne believes prejudice, fear, and unawareness are major obstacles to overcoming stereotypes surrounding people with disabilities.

Cerebral Palsy Greece International Cerebral Palsy Society (ICPS)