Experience of inclusion introduction in the Novoborivska settlement amalgamated hromada in the Zhytomyr Oblast
An inclusive and rehabilitation playground was opened in Novoborivska settlement AH, Zhytomyr Oblast, where children with special educational needs and pupils of the local lyceum can play together.
Ukrinform reporter learned about hromada’s experience during a trip to Nova Borova, organised by the Zhytomyr Local Government Development Centre of the U-LEAD with Europe Programme.
Last year, the Novoborivska AH received international status as a candidate of the UNICEF Global Initiative “Community Friendly to Children and Youth”.
“In our hromada, inclusion is an element of youth policy. For a long time, children with special needs were isolated from their peers, and now we aim to socialise and involve them in the educational process. We started by setting up an Inclusive Resource Centre (IRC) that caters to 6155 children from the Novoborivska, Irshanska and Khoroshivska AHs, as well as from Radychi and Toporyshche village councils. This year, an inclusive and rehabilitation playground was set up on the IRC’s territory, where children with special needs play together with other schoolchildren,” said Hryhoriy Rudyuk, Nova Borova settlement head.
According to him, three amalgamated hroamdas and the Khoroshiv Rayon State Administration have already signed a memorandum on joint maintenance of the IRC, which operates in Nova Borova.
The Full Life inclusive and rehabilitation playground appeared thanks to grants from the oblast budget in the amount of UAH 99 thousand and UAH 56 thousand of co-financing from the local budget. The idea was proposed by Anna Matviyenko, project manager of the Novoborivska AH, and the competition was submitted by the NGO “Novf Borova Union of ATO Participants and Veterans”.
“I once met my childhood friend who was moving on a wheelchair. We started talking. And he, already an adult, looking at the playground, said that he had long wanted to eat an ice cream on a carousel. I was very touched by this story and we later decided to set up a place where children with special educational needs would be able to enjoy a swing set,” Anna Matviyenko says.
A swing bench with seat belts and an additional 60-degree crossbar was installed at the playground for the convenience of children who cannot hold their backs on their own.
Children can play in the sandbox they do not need to bend over, and they are especially pleased with the swing-balancer. Anna Matviyenko says that the latter contributes to the development of a sense of mutual assistance, since pupils help one child to drive on a wheelchair to one part of a swing, and three of them stay at the other part.
In addition, they have a separate bench for moms who come with children, so that they can constantly see what's happening on the playground.
Oksana Lozovyk shared her experience of socialising a child with special needs. Her seven-year-old son diagnosed with autism went to first grade this year. He studies at a regular school under an inclusive programme, and in his spare time goes with his mother to a playground on the territory of the IRC.
“This playground is a great idea because there are special kids and ordinary children playing together. They communicate with each other, learn to be more tolerant and work as a team. It is much easier for children to understand each other, and they can easily ask me why Nazar is not talking. Instead, adults do not understand this, they are little informed, think that special children can harm their healthy kids. We do not hide a child and his/her diagnosis, so if you are interested, just ask,” says Ms Lozovyk.
“The Novoborivska AH has found a creative approach to how to create a comfortable environment for special children. It is important that both ordinary children and those with health problems can play together. At the same time, the hromada has demonstrated that it is able to write a good project and raise funds for its implementation,” said Dmytro Klymenko, communications adviser of the Zhytomyr LGDC.
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