Parents launch training centre for disabled young people in Kyiv
Editor’s Note: This article is a part of the “Journalism of Tolerance” project by the Kyiv Post and its affiliated non-profit organization, the Media Development Foundation. The project covers challenges faced by sexual, ethnic and other minorities in Ukraine, as well as people with physical disabilities and those living in poverty. This project is made possible by the support of the American people through the U. S. Agency for International Development and Internews. Content is independent of the donors.
Natalia Samsonova is 23 years old, active, creative, and loves baking. She is currently applying for a job at a bakery in Kyiv.
And while she has Down Syndrome, she is determined not to let her condition keep her out of employment.
However, the statistics don’t paint a hopeful picture. There are 156,000 people with disabilities living in Kyiv, including 10,635 children. No more than 200 people graduate from Kyiv’s 28 specialized boarding schools for disabled people every year, and only 10 percent of them get a job, according to state’s statistics.
Oleksandr Voznyuk, the head of Human Rights Association of People With Disabilities, a Ukrainian non-government organization, says that even though under Ukrainian legislation companies have to ensure 4 percent of their staff are people with disabilities, companies often just “manipulate the figures to avoid penalties.”
Larysa Samsonova, the mother of Natalia, who was brought up in a boarding school, has two concerns about such institutions. First, they curtail pupils’ freedom, keeping everyone under a fixed agenda and not letting them express themselves, she says. Second, when kids graduate, they have nowhere to go.
So the parents of children with disabilities are trying to solve both problems, Samsonova says.
They have already created a charitable social and rehabilitation center called Rodyna (Family) in Kyiv – an alternative school where children with different kinds of disabilities can study together.
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