Community Connections- 2009

Program Theme:  “Adaptation & Integration of Physically & Mentally Challenged Children & Youth into Society

  • Country: Ukraine
  • Region: Crimea
  • Program Dates: September 9 – 30, 2009;
  • Homestay Dates: September 10-29, 2009
  • Language: English,with interpretation into Russian
  • Number of Visitors: 10

More Program Details:

Background of Professional Community from which Delegates will be Selected
Participants will represent employees of the healthcare and education systems, social workers, administrations of secondary and boarding schools, pedagogues, psychologists and NGOs working in this sphere. Ministries that are involved in addressing special needs of individuals are the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Economy and European Integration of Ukraine, the Ministry of Family, Youth and Sport.  They have representation at the regional level.

Background Information
In developed countries, children with disabilities study in regular schools. In the U.S. this is generally referred to as “mainstreaming” and has been in effect since special education programs were made mandatory by federal law in 1975.  That law and lobbying efforts on behalf of and by individuals referred to as “disabled” shifted public perception from the idea that a person who is challenged has limitations that cannot be overcome to recognizing that it is  society’s obligation to remove barriers and create conditions that allow every person to explore his/her abilities and reach full potential.

However, last October, the on-line Journal Novinar wrote that, in the last few years, there have been some positive steps taken to create an integrated, not parallel, educational model for all children.  Between 2001 and 2007 the Ministry of Education & Science, together with the Institute of Specialized Pedagogy and the NGO “Step by Step,” undertook a pedagogical-research experiment involving 23 schools from eight oblasts of Ukraine to study an integrated approach in education.  It differed from an inclusive one in that it did not include any additional support during the educational process. The outcomes of the experiment indicated that it had a positive effect on its participants: the “invalid” children, who showed an increased interest in educational and creative work; the parents, who began to see and understand their children in a new light; other pupils, who learned tolerance toward others; teachers, who started to judge the abilities of the new students differently.

Nevertheless, new legislation on “Special Education” that is based on the results of the experiment has failed to pass in Parliament for four years running.  Without this legislation, there is no budget to make education fully integrated and inclusive – to provide all the additional and necessary conditions ranging from facilities such as ramps, toilets, etc. to teaching assistants, Braille materials and others.

Overall Program Goal & Objectives
The goals of the program are:

  • to expand the knowledge of professionals working in Ukraine, specifically Crimea, about integrated and individualized educational processes;
  • to develop action plans for developing and implementing special education programs in Ukrainian schools
  • to show how  individuals who are challenged, especially children, can be brought out of isolation and integrated into community life.

Participating Organizations for this program include:

  • Roanoke County schools
  • Blue Ridge Independent Living Center
  • Virginia Tech
  • And many others.

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