UNICEF Bulgaria launches the “Invisible Children” campaign
SOFIA, Bulgaria - 18 February 2009
Today, UNICEF Bulgaria launched the “Invisible Children” campaign for support to children with disabilities and their families.
Mr. Octavian Bivol, UNICEF Representative in Bulgaria, Mrs. Vesela Banova (child psychologist), Dr. Mechkunova (child psychiatrist), Mr. Hristo Hristozov, National Director of Special Olympics Bulgaria, Rosen Dlyogov and Spaska Topalova, golden medalists in Alpine Skiing at Special Olympics World Winter Games in Idaho USA 2009, attended the press conference.
“Our key objective is to change the public attitudes towards children with disabilities. We should focus on their abilities, their capacities and achievements.” – said Mr. Octavian Bivol, UNICEF Representative in Bulgaria.
The communication campaign will take place from February to March 2009. It aims at change of attitudes and behavior towards the “invisible” children. We are used to call these children “different”, with physical and/or intellectual disabilities, with mental and behavioral disorder or children with special needs.
Children with disabilities and their families constantly experience barriers to the enjoyment of their basic human rights and to their inclusion in society. Yet, the barriers they face are more frequently as a result of the environment in which they live, attitudes than as a result of their impairment. Their abilities are overlooked, their capacities are underestimated and their needs are given low priority. A proper support to these children would provide them with the opportunity to reach their full potential and fully integrate into the society.
Dr. Mechkunova outlined the main barrier faced by children with disabilities and their families:“The main problem consists in the lack of free community-based therapeutic care for children with disabilities and their families in Bulgaria. Children with disabilities living with their families or placed in institutions have no access to these services. Due to the lack of support and proper services for families, not knowing how to overcome the problem, afraid of the social discrimination towards the “different” children, many familes abandon their children in institutions.”
UNICEF’s communication campaign aims as well at developing a good model for integrated health-social community based service in support to children with disabilities and their families. The project “Playground for Ability Development” in Rousse will provide psychological support and therapy to children with disabilities and their families. The real impact on children’s life would be better inclusion and integration, improvement of their social abilities, development of their full potential, prevention of abandonment and institutionalization, provision of better care, etc.
To the question: Why has UNICEF launched this campaign? - Mr. Bivol answered: “Because the most vulnerable children are our greatest priority. Because where others see problems, we see opportunities. Because where others see embarrassment, we see pride. Because where others see burden, we see love.”
UNICEF collaborates with government, local authorities, NGO sector for change in politics, social care system for the well-being of Bulgaria’s children. Our guiding principle is the Convention on the Rights of the Child of the UN which gives UNICEF mandate to work at international level.
About the project “Playground for Ability Development”
One of the main outcomes of “The invisible children” communication campaign is the development of “Playground for Ability Development”. The centre will provide therapeutic care and psychotherapy for children and young people: individual and group therapeutic care (psychomotor activities, writing, music, model making, etc.) It will provide accommodation and care for children up to 3 hours per day aimed at children socialization and integration among their peers, as well as support to parents for a short period of time.
The project “Playground for Ability Development” will provide families with psychological and therapeutic support, organizing group workshops for parents. The centre will present a forum for exchange of experience and ideas between professionals from the network, providing care to children and young people.
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