Fact file

Supported since 2001
Number of beneficiaries 45
Country Russia
Type of Support Community Building

Life for marginalised children can be difficult, but for children with disabilities it can be much harder.

Unlike in Western Europe, where disabled people are a highly visible part of society, Russian's 12.5 million citizens with disabilities are a relatively rare sight in public, especially in provincial regions with less developed infrastructure. Nearly 30 percent of Russian children with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and Down syndrome live in state-run orphanages, although most of them have at least one living parent. While there are no official statistics, experts estimate up to four out of every five babies with the chromosomal disorder born nationally are abandoned by their parents shortly after birth (source).

Russia is just at the beginning of integrating those with disabilities into society as a whole.

The New Way School is addressing this need for integration in three ways - opportunity, facilities and society. The school is unique in providing quality education for children with Down Syndrome. They are able to learn, are taught crucial life skills and socialise in an environment where they are loved, valued and supported to thrive. The school provides speech therapy, play support, fitness and yoga lessons and massages. Their families are also supported, attending workshops to give them practical skills to help them care for their children, and gain from the community of parents in a similar position.

Vitally, the children with Down Syndrome also integrate and play with the children from the main school. This is a vital part of breaking down the stigma that surrounds disability, and changing the future outlook for the community as a whole. The school has already seen a transition in the views of the children.

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