UNICEF Expands Network of Community Centers in Armenia
YEREVAN, 26 August – UNICEF and “Bridge of Hope” non-governmental organization opened today a community-based child development center for children with disabilities and children from vulnerable families.
Based in Noyemberyan city, the center became the fourth of its kind operating in Tavoush region which is about 300 km away from Armenia’s capital.
“Such centers play a crucial role for children, allowing to bridge gaps in services that exist in communities,” says president of “Bridge of Hope” Sussanna Tadevosyan.
Unfortunately, Tadevosyan says, many communities lack capacity to provide appropriate services to children who have special needs. As a result, many of those children remain isolated from the society and have little or no opportunities for development.
“It is difficult to educate those children,” – Tadevosyan says, “but it is certainly necessary to do it for the benefit of the society. It is important to put an end to any kind of discrimination against those who are different.”
The Noyembryan community-based center will reach out to 80 children with disabilities. In addition, it will provide services to almost 200 children and their families from Noyemberyan city and adjacent villages.
“In areas where the centers were established, they have changed lives of the communities. Their mission even goes beyond the provision of support to children with special needs and their parents as they gradually become community mobilizers,” Ruth Leano, UNICEF Programme Co-ordinator in Armenia, stressed, adding that “the opening of community centers resulted in less children being sent to specialized institutions and more children with disabilities being mainstreamed into basic education.”
According to official statistics, there are over 8,000 children with disabilities registered in Armenia. The majority of those children are not integrated into the society and are excluded from mainstream education.
“The establishment of alternative services offered by community centers is a way forward to turn those children into full-fledged members of their communities. This is why, the community centers are taken by the Government as a strategic model for integration of children with disabilities into the society and mainstream education and are seen as alternative to institutionalization,” says Naira Avetisyan, UNICEF Armenia Child Protection Officer.
To date services provided by community centers in Tavoush region have allowed 300 children with disabilities to have access to education.
For more information:
Emil Sahakyan, Communication Officer, Armenia
Tel: (374 10) 523-546,566-497,580-174