UN Secretary General visits children with disabilities in Moscow
MOSCOW, Russian Federation, 22 April 2011 - As part of his official visit to Russia on April 21-23, 2011, UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon visited the Centre for Curative Pedagogics in Moscow where the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has been implementing its project on social inclusion. Today, social inclusion, which envisages the possibility to secure for every child equal rights to education, development and social participation, is one of priority areas of international politics.
“Children with disabilities, they are facing a lot of problems, stigma and discrimination and isolation.,” UN Secretary General said in his welcoming speech. “About 10 per cent of the world’s people live with disabilities – whether it is physical, emotional or sensory.” Mr. Ban Ki-moon called upon the Russian Government to ratify “as soon as possible” the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which 99 countries had already acceded. He thanked the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev, for his “vision” regarding inclusive development, which he expressed recently at the Boao Forum for Asia.
Mr. Ban Ki-moon expressed his gratitude to the staff of the Moscow-based Centre for Curative Pedagogics and UNICEF for their hard work promoting social integration of children with disabilities. UN Secretary General and his spouse were offered the opportunity to attend classes for children with disabilities arranged at the Centre and talk to the children, their parents, teachers and volunteers. Mr. Ban Ki-moon wished them success and said they should be patient. “Never be discouraged. If you are discouraged, your children will be discouraged , and there is no way for them to have courage and hope,” he pointed out.
Mr. Pan Ki-moon and his spouse visited a carpenter’s workshop and a pottery located on the premises of the Centre, where they could watch children with very serious developmental disabilities making genuine works of art. “What these children have made, all these paintings and ceramic works – these are excellent,” UN Secretary General said. “They have a great talent and potential. We have to cultivate their hidden potential and talent. It depends on how their parents …show their love, care and devotion.”
The Moscow-based Centre for Curative Pedagogics was established twenty years ago to provide support to families which have children with intellectual and emotional peculiarities, speech and locomotive impairments, learning and communication difficulties. The children and their parents receive medical, psychological, educational and information assistance. Thanks to the support rendered by UNICEF, an inclusive kindergarten has been set up as part of the Centre where children with special needs can play and study together with their peers. The kindergarten accepts both healthy children and children suffering from a variety of different physical and mental conditions including autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. None of these children has had the opportunity to attend pre-school or early childhood facilities before.
The long-term experience gained by the Centre has revealed that any child with psychological and behavioral problems has every chance to study successfully at a mainstream school, providing professional educational advice and counseling services are offered to the child as early as possible, starting from the age of 3 to 5 years.