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Perspective 21/3

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“Perspective 21/3” is the name of the project, which would like to give in the 21th century life-perspective to children with a trisomy of 21st chromosome (Down’s syndrome) in Ukraine.
Perspective for 3 very important fundamental arias of life:

1.    Education
2.    Job coaching
3.    (Independent) living

But also perspective for eternal LIFE!

The project is managed by Christians. Their vision is that by starting up education based on Biblical principles inside a governmental school, the unique way is opened for being “salt” and “light”. And in this way to fulfill the words of Matthew 25:40: “…I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of this my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!”
Till July 2010 the children with DS were official considered ‘uneducable’. And classified by term imbecile or moron. Therefore government considered it the best, to take this heavy burden Till from parents’ shoulders by offering them straight after delivery in the birth-clinics the ‘beautiful’ possibility of giving them to state children homes (named “internate”).
When in western countries parents are confronted with the news about DS child, mostly they can expect professional social and psychological care and support.
Unfortunately it’s not the case in post Soviet country Ukraine. Special need children are not valued and often people see them as useless for society. A heritage from Soviet Union when they ’didn’t exist’. Only a few knew that the reality was different and that this people where ‘hided’.
Now things are changing, and even people on governmental level start understanding that these children have also right for education. That’s why July 2010 the law was accepted that all special need children have right on appropriate education.

However educational system is not prepared to accept and teach these children.
About 10 years ago (2003) a group of parents started the Ukrainian Parents Organization Down Syndrome. And there is a lot of press- and media publicity around this subject. Children were photographed with famous Ukrainian actors, sportsmen etc. These photos were placed on billboards in Kiev, and used for awareness exposition and calendar. Lots of TV programs were made around DS resulting in more and creation of more positive image of DS people. An early-intervention and information centre was opened in November 2010.
Despite positive changes on ‘global’ scale, education of DS children remains big problem in Ukraine.
That’s why in 2010, a Christian family with DS child started project “Perspective 21/3”.

Establishment of special classes named “RADIST’” (JOY) is the first step.
Inclusion of Down syndrome children into class with mild mentally disabled children was approved as official experiment from Kiev Pedagogical Institute “Hrenchenko” and National Academic Institute on Special Pedagogies. It’s the first experiment in this way on whole Ukraine! The first 5 years-stage, western education programs and methods should be adapted and used in this special class with future reapplication throughout Ukraine.
In January 2011 preparation class started in Kiev. By now we have three classes, which should be a model (pilot project), which can be followed.
Since teachers and coordinator are Christians, official facultative Bible lessons were integrated into the program of education. Children will be able to pray in the class as well.
Now we have a team of 11 specialists (pedagogues, speech therapist, psychologist), which should become an ‘expertise team’ in this field of special education. The project organizes seminars/workshops for team members of the school we’re cooperating with and for other interested pedagogues of other schools. We are happy to tell that in more places in Ukraine parents took initiative to start similar classes. In 2012 we could organize a scientific, practical international conference, where attended 160 specialist from whole over Ukraine. Here our team shared about results so far. It was sponsored by money from “MATRA project” a Dutch charity program of Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
We were glad representatives from Kyiv city government, National Scientifically Institute on Special Pedagogues, and people from Hrenchenko University could be present and share about their positive impressions and necessary  of this project.

Within borders of project, “Josti Band Orchestra” was invited to Kiev. This is the largest orchestra/band with people which have a mental disability. It was organized in cooperation with embassy of the Netherlands, and caused a lot of media attention in Ukraine. Two big concerts were given. One for the diplomacy and Dutch (business) society in of Kiev Philharmonic. And second concert for 2000 people in October Palace for Ukraine. The concert took place in the nice ambiance wide circle of people. (Parents and children with Down Syndrome or other mental handicaps, representatives from government, experts etc.) The concert was straight translated by 1st Ukrainian TV channel!
Press conferences were organized and there was big media attention on the Down syndrome topic.
September 2015 we want to start the second stage of the project: job preparation in school. For that we plan to renovate and equip classrooms for this purpose. 2014-2015 will be worked out the program. Based on especially Dutch ideas, and adapted to Ukrainian reality.
Our children should also go for stage outside the school. Our vision is to go for specialized education on Hotel and HORECA business (like cleaning, laundry, kitchen, waiter, hostess, light office job etc. This is a wide spectrum of skills which also will be needed in day-to-day life.
Now we are building a network of potential interested companies which would like to have our people working in their team.
One of our visions is that this entire job is not possible to make without close cooperation with parents. That’s why we also organize on regular base seminars and round table meetings with our parents. Themes like “Future dreams and reality, learning (in) possibilities, behavioral topics etc. are discussed.
We are happy to get support from Dutch schools for special education. The exchange programs (visits there and back) are of great value to understand how to develop further.

We are thankful to God for the interest and input provided by:

Kyiv City government (UA)
National Scientific institute on Special Pedagogies (UA)
Hrenchenko Pedagogic University (UA)
Boarding School #26 (UA)
DS Parents Organization in Ukraine
Downsed International (UK),
Special school “De Rank” (NL)
Praktijkonderwijs Driestar Epsilon (NL)
Driestar Educatief University (NL)
Linda Fonds (NL)
OGO (NL)
Several Dutch companies (UA and NL)
Royal Netherlands Embassy in Ukraine
Kyiv Lions Club (UA)
Some local churches
KIMON (NL)
Private donations

There is long way ahead before results of the project can be demonstrated and multiplied allover Ukraine. Would you like to join us on the trip? Contact us for any questions, ideas or donations.

Project manager:
Arenda Vasylenko – arenda.vasylenko@gmail.com
Tel. +38 066 720 8324

info@downsyndrome.org.ua
Tel. +38 (044) 540-96-09
www.downsyndrome.org.ua/perspektiva-213

 


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