First Ukrainian Early Development Center for Children with Down Syndrome Celebrates its First Anniversary
There are more than 13000 people with Down syndrome living in Ukraine. Most of them are orphans left by their parents, lonely, illiterate and unemployed. There are very limited educational opportunities for young people with Down syndrome, if any, children are not welcome at mainstream kindergartens and schools.
The only organization acting on behalf of people living with Down syndrome in Ukraine – Ukrainian Down Syndrome Organization founded by the parents of children with Down syndrome in 2003 – received no governmental or public support.
The Opening of the Center
In 2010 EDB ErgoGroup and Infopulse Ukraine began their partnership with UDSO and Down Syndrome Education International on a major three-year project to improve support for people with Down syndrome throughout Ukraine. Besides financial support, EDB ErgoGroup and Infopulse Ukraine have been utilising their core competencies in IT as well as volunteering from the companies’ staff to work directly with children, adults and their families in Ukraine.
The project supported the opening of the first Early Development Center for children with Down Syndrome: helped to acquire and refurbish the accommodation, employ professional staff, translate and publish up-to-date information about health and medical care, early intervention and education for people with Down syndrome. EDB ErgoGroup and Infopulse Ukraine have also sponsored and participated in several charitable events of UDSO and provided volunteering support for different UDSO activities.
In December 2010 the new UDSO website developed by Infopulse volunteers was launched to supply the families of children with Down syndrome and professionals with the up-to-date useful information and advice and help them to stay connected.
1 Year of Support
In just one year of the project, over 340 families from all over Ukraine have registered at the Center for support and around 40 children have been learning in the Center on a regular basis. Overall, more than 1,000 people throughout Ukraine have already benefited directly from the project, which has attracted the support of the Ukrainian Ministry of Education, Kyiv city education and children’s services. One of the remarkable achievements of the Center’s work is that this year 3 children with Down syndrome have been accepted in a mainstream kindergarten and 5 children went to school in Kyiv.
Joining Forces To Introduce Changes
To celebrate the first anniversary of the Center and to promote the first successful steps in introducing positive changes to the lives of people with Down syndrome, UDSO has held a press-conference with the representatives of major Ukrainian media.
At the end of the event children with Down syndrome together with their parents, UDSO specialists and guests laid a symbolic foundation of toy bricks for the success of early development programs.