Eastern Kazakhstan, UNICEF, Special Olympics promote inclusive communities for children with disabilities through the power of sport, health and education
UST-KAMENOGORSK, Kazakhstan, 24 January 2014 – A round-table meeting on “The promotion of inclusive communities for children with disabilities through the power of sport, health and education” was held in Ust-Kamenogorsk today as part of the joint programme of the East Kazakshtan Oblast (EKO) Akimat (Adminstration), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Special Olympics (SO).
The round-table meeting focused on the progress of the programme and new tasks for 2014. The round-table meeting was chaired by Akim of East Kazakshtan Region Berdibek Saparbayev and was attended by member of Kazakh Parliament Zagipa Baliyeva, UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan Jun Kukita, Vice President of Special Olympics Global Development and Government Relations David Evangelista, Olympic Champion Olga Rypakova, akims of towns and districts, NGOs, social workers and the media.
“We are very glad that this programme is being conducted in our region and are ready for our further mutual cooperation with UNICEF and Special Olympics for the best interest of children,” said Berdibek Saparbayev.
In 2012 the Akimat of East Kazakhstan Oblast (EKO) jointly with UNICEF and the international organization Special Olympics launched the project “Promoting inclusive communities for children with intellectual disabilities”.
“We are happy that there are such programmes of UNICEF and Special Olympics. All good and positive things that exist in the outer world, we have to bring into Kazakhstan and transform them into legislation and laws,” said MP Zagipa Baliyeva.
Special Olympics and UNICEF joined hands in the project to support the implementation and testing of a model of inclusive strategies for children with special needs by changing the attitudes of decision makers, practitioners and families to children with disabilities, strengthening the capacity of local authorities, health and education services in better understanding of needs of children.
In addition, as part of an inclusive community-based structure, the partnership helped in implementing sports programmes that promote youth participation and raising public awareness about the abilities of children with special needs in East Kazakhstan Oblast. This falls within the joint UNICEF-EKO partnership programme for 2012-2015 in establishing the inclusive systems, services, attitudes for children with disabilities for their health, development, protection and participation.
Olympic Champion Olga Rypakova, as a supporter of UNICEF programmes in Kazakhstan, welcomed the joint programme of the EKO Akimat, SO and UNICEF.
“We all know what effect sport can have on man’s life, especially on the lives of children. Sport opens up a human being, develops the personality in the child. One must always believe in their strength, and parents, caregivers and coaches have to maintain the child’s belief,” said Olga Rypakova.
“We would like to help Kazakhstan to become a more inclusive society, and as many of you know East Kazakhstan Oblast has been the key partner for this support. We have been taking a systems approach to achieve that, where we help the government and the civil society create awareness and build capacities to develop a sustainable and ever improving environment for social inclusion, particularly for the most vulnerable and marginalized children,” UNICEF Representative Jun Kukita told the meeting.
In joint action with UNICEF, the project aims directly at including children with intellectual disabilities and their families into communities. The main objectives of the project are to provide these children with the opportunity to participate actively in social life through sport, health and education initiatives in order to make the society aware of people with intellectual disabilities and their needs.
In 2013 a series of programmes have been put into place to serve the target segment population of children with intellectual disabilities. The programming provided opportunities for children with intellectual disabilities and their families to actively participate and also to interact with each other in an effort to demonstrate the partnership’s ability to forge true social inclusion. They also enhanced the opportunity to get informed about inclusive models that Special Olympics approaches provide in support of their children. A series of press conferences, public awareness initiatives, and media round tables informed the public about the partnership and its programs, and to raise awareness about children’s needs, their challenges in society, and the need for increased support from all sectors.
As a result in 2013 the programme helped to change the attitude of the communities, student volunteers, and young professionals to families upbringing children with disabilities, offered support and socialisation. The social inclusion is multi-sectoral and multi-facet starting from the grassroots level to the key decision making. 210 volunteers and students from medical University of Semey and 75 volunteer students from the College of Humanities Ust Kemenogorsk were trained and involved in the project. More than 300 children were screened through the Special Olympics Health Program “Healthy Athletes”. 51 young children, ages 2-7, participated in the Young Athletes program. 191 athletes and partners took part in the Unified Sports program. 49 coaches and teachers were trained in Unified sports with the result that at least 8 new Unified Teams were established. For 75 families of children with intellectual disabilities the Family Forum provided a platform to exchange and learn about opportunities and challenges of people with ID in EKO. The Special Olympics Young Athletes program gathered 57 home based children with severe mental and physical handicaps in early childhood development opportunities. Two press conferences and one media round table have been executed to provide a stronger orientation to the general media in Kazakhstan as to the challenges faced by children with intellectual disabilities.
In association with the continuation of the project in 2014 the focus will be on inclusion of home based young children with disabilities and their parents. This will be achieved through co-delivery of a series of different initiatives around motor activity programs and health initiatives for the children as well as knowledge sharing and information tools for parents with disabled young children. Furthermore the project will emphasize the need for adapted for inclusion and specialized health care for people with intellectual disabilities through the provision of disability specific curriculums to medical universities and schools. Additionally, the project is aiming to improve knowledge and attitude of the public towards people with intellectual and other disabilities through public awareness campaigns in EKO.
About Special Olympics
In Kazakhstan the Special Olympics movement has been developing for 24 years. More than 18,000 children from residential institutions, special schools and families are involved in trainings and competitions in 20 different sports.
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