Ukrainian-American Birth Defects Program
International Partnership in Support of the Early Intervention System Implementation
(Report on the visit of Ukraine Special Needs Orphanages Fund (USA) team to Rivne and Volyn)
July 1, 2004
UABDP Medical Coordinator
The team of Ukraine Special Needs Orphanages Fund (Virginia, USA) under the direction of its President Karen Feathers visited Rivne and Lutsk (Volyn) on June 18-25, 2004.
Among others, the visit has its objective to provide humanitarian help for Rivne Baby House and Rivne Children's House. Moreover, one of the main tasks was to promote Rivne Early Intervention Educational Rehabilitation and Social Adaptation Day Care Center for Special Needs Children "Pahinets" formation in collaboration with the Ukrainian-American Birth Defects Program and Rivne NGO Parental Association of Special Needs Children. The team of the Ukraine Special Needs Orphanages Fund included: Karen Feathers (President of the Fund), Amy Goffman (Physical Therapist), Janice LeSueur (Early Childhood Special Education Teacher), Markella Rutherford (Assistant Professor of Sociology, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts), Jenny Jensen (mother who adopted 6 children with Down syndrome) and other members.
During their stay in Rivne and Lutsk the following meetings took place:
- A meeting with the parents - members of Rivne NGO Parental Association of Special Needs Children in Pahinets Day Care Center. During the meeting the parents took a keen interest in problem-solving of early intervention and children integration into the community in the USA. Jenny Jensen, a mother who has a biological child with Down syndrome and adopted several children with Down syndrome (particularly 3 of them from Ukraine), addressed the parents who were present at the meeting. She shared her own experience of raising special needs children.
- A meeting with Rivne Deputy Mayor in Charge of Humanitarian and Social Matters Svitlana Bohatyrchuk-Kryvko and the Head of Rivne Educational Department Vitaliy Novak. The meeting was participated by the UABDP Medical Coordinator Lyubov Yevtushok, the Head of Rivne Day Care Center Pahinets Tamara Savchuk, the Head of Parental Association of Special Needs Children Viktor Khomyuk. The aim of the meeting was to introduce the guests to Rivne educational authorities and to discuss Day Care Center Pahinets problems, the prospects of the Day Care Center development, integration of special needs children into regular groups of kindergartens and classes of general schools. As a possible way to help Pahinets' Day Care Center and carry out specialists' training, Vitaliy Novak suggested to invite a specialist from the USA supported by the Ukraine Special Needs Orphanages Fund for the period of 2-3 months.
Discussing Day Care Center Pahinets problems.
From left to right:
Ms. Karen Feathers, Mr. Vitaliy Novak, Mrs. Svitlana Bohatyrchuk-Kryvko
- A workshop in the UABDP Rivne Informational Resource OMNI-Center. The representatives of the Ukraine Special Needs Orphanages Fund - Karen Feathers, Amy Goffman, Janice LeSueur, Markella Rutherford met the UABDP Medical Coordinator Lyubov Yevtushok, the Head of the Rivne "Pahinets" Center Tamara Savchuk and the Head of Parental Association of Special Needs Children Viktor Khomyuk. The workshop had its objective to discuss joint actions as to implementation of early intervention system through support of the Pahinets Day Care Center activities, early stimulation of orphans' mental development with the help of volunteered students in Children's House. The participants of the workshop were familiarized with the activities of the Informational Resource OMNI-Center Network, Alliance for the Prevention of Birth Defects in cooperation with local governing bodies. The participants were introduced into the OMNI Network's work on translation of "Small steps" - an early intervention program for children developed in Macquarie University (Sidney, Australia). The copyright for its Ukrainian translation and adaptation were granted to the Alliance for the Prevention of Birth Defects. Karen Feathers expressed her support for this activity, namely she would help in translation of 2 books and would co-donate funds for Small Steps Ukrainian edition. In order to enhance activities of the Pahinets Day Care Center it was proposed to organize Supervising Board including the following members: representatives from the Rivne Educational Department, Health Administration, parental organization, Ukrainian-American Birth Defects program, Rivne State Humanitarian University (Prof. T. Ponimanska), Ukraine Special Needs Orphanages Fund, Department of Youth and Family Affairs, a lawyer (protection of children's rights).
- A meeting with specialists - teachers and doctors of Rivne (20 persons), participated by Lidiya Kuz'muk (Head of Deputy Committee of Rivne City Counsil), Natalya Hlybovych (Head Physician of Rivne Regional Center of Medical Rehabilitation and Social Adaptation of Children with Organic Defects of Central Nervous System), Vasyl Halyabar (children's psychiatrist of Rivne Oblast Health Administration), Lyubov Koren' (Head of the Kindergarten #53), specialists of local Center of Social Protection of Handicapped People, doctors of Medical-Genetic Consultation, a representative from the Rivne Children's House and others. The guests from the USA answered numerous questions concerning rehabilitation of special needs children in the USA, their educational system, parental collaboration.
- A meeting of the representatives of the Ukraine Special Needs Fund and its President Karen Feathers with Volyn parents in the Volyn OMNI-center. The visitors have got acquainted with the Volyn OMNI Center's structure and activities. The USA guests met the parents who have children with BD. Among them there were: Lyudmyla Voznyuk (Head of the Volyn NGO "Child Development Center", this organization is a member of the Alliance for the Birth Defects Prevention), Natalya Bochkovska (one of the first organizers of family type childrens' home in Volyn). The guests from USA told about care system for disabled children in US and answered the questions of the parents who were present at the meeting. After that, the guests and parents visited City Kindergarten #57 specialized in education of children having problems with hearing, visual problems, cerebral paralysis and other disabilities. On the basis of this kindergarten the parents from the Volyn NGO "Child Development Center" organized children rehabilitation theatre "Zabavlyanochka". The children played the part of the performance to the guests. They were highly impressed by the children and teachers. Then there was a round table meeting held with the participation of parents, teaching staff of Kindergarten #57 and representatives of other infant schools which deal with disabled children (nearly 25-30 persons). The following topics were discussed at the meeting: how to improve a modern system of children's education who have special needs in Ukraine, how to get access to information concerning early intervention programs in US, how to train children with special needs for integration into educational system for healthy children. The president of the Fund Karen Feathers pointed that the best way for getting access to modern informational sources in this field could be provided through usage of the Volyn OMNI-Center's resources. As the example she mentioned developing Day Care Center "Pahinets" in Rivne closely collaborating with the UABDP. At this meeting there was the representative of the Lutsk City Administration Mrs. Tetyana Solomina, Inspector of Education Department. She was very interested in information about the Day Care Center in Rivne and agreed to meet again to discuss how to create similar center in Lutsk.
Actors of the Children Rehabilitation Theatre "Zabavlyanochka"
- A meeting of the President of the Ukraine Special Needs Orphanages Fund Karen Feathers and her colleagues Janice LeSueur (Early childhood Special Education Teacher), Markella Rutherford (Assistant Professor of Sociology), the UABDP Medical Coordinator Lyubov Yevtushok with Ihor Shumlyansky (Head Physician of the Rivne Oblast Clinical Medical Diagnostic Center, Head of Administrative Board of Rivne Oblast Charitable "Leleka" Foundation to Help Prevent Birth Defects. The meeting was also participated by Prof. Tamara Ponimanska (Head of Pre-School Pedagogics and Psychology Chair of Rivne State Humanitarian University) and a monitor of volunteered students Olena Kholod.
- Another meeting of the President of the Ukraine Special Needs Orphanages Fund Karen Feathers and her colleagues Janice LeSueur, Markella Rutherford, the UABDP Medical Coordinator Lyubov Yevtushok with Prof. Tamara Ponimanska and Olena Kholod took place in the Rivne OMNI-Center. Karen Feathers expressed her support for the project of early stimulation and reduction of mental subnormality in orphans with the help of volunteered students in the Rivne Children's Home, implementation of which was initiated by the Ukrainian-American Birth Defects Program in collaboration with Rivne State Humanitarian University under the direction of Prof. Tamara Ponimanska. Moreover, Karen Feathers informed that Dr. Carel Patrylo (professor of special education, expert in autism) expressed interest in collaboration with the Pre-School Pedagogics and Psychology Chair of the Rivne State Humanitarian University. Carel Patrylo will provide materials for students' training, prepare her own students to meet Ukrainian volunteers and to share experience with them and their teachers.
From left to right: Yevgeniya Ihnatenko (Fund Administrator in Kyiv),
Markella Rutherford, Karen Feathers, Ihor Shumlyansky, Janice LeSueur,
Olena Kholod, Tamara Ponimanska, Lyubov Yevtushok
- The concluding meeting of the President of the Ukraine Special Needs Orphanages Fund Karen Feathers and the Fund representatives with the Head of the Rivne Educational Department Vitaliy Novak, the UABDP Medical Coordinator Lyubov Yevtushok, the Head of the Rivne Day Care Center Pahinets Tamara Savchuk, Prof. Tamara Ponimanska (Head of Pre-School Pedagogics and Psychology Chair of Rivne State Humanitarian University), the Head of Parental Association of Special Needs Children Viktor Khomyuk took place in the Pahinets Day Care Center. Karen Feathers said that she and her colleagues were deeply impressed by the range of work done in Rivne for implementation of early intervention system in collaboration with local authorities, the UABDP and parental organization. She confirmed her further support to the Pahinets Day Care Center activities and volunteer movement of students from the Rivne and Volyn State Humanitarian Universities. Karen Feathers also expressed her hope that the experience of the Pahinets Center would be shared with Lutsk, where she was deeply touched by the meeting with parents and the Special Needs Children's Theater "Zabavlyanochka". The UABDP Medical Coordinator Lyubov Yevtushok underlined that everything done and realized in the Pahinets is the first stage in implementation of early intervention system, namely pedagogical rehabilitation and social adaptation. The next stage should involve medicine as a part of this process. The role of the OMNI-Center Network in informational support of early intervention system is essential.
The Head of the Rivne Educational Department Vitaliy Novak suggested to prepare a common argumentation (basis) for implementation of state early intervention program to be submitted for consideration of Health and Education Committee of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. He assured that he would contribute to the process of integration of special needs children into regular groups of kindergartens and general schools, and support the staff and teachers training for the above needs. Besides, he proposed the UABDP Medical Coordinator Lyubov Yevtushok to prepare argumentation (basis) for incorporating a pediatrician on child's development into the staff of the Pahinets Day Care Center.
At the same time the specialists of the Ukraine Special Needs Orphanages Fund (teacher of special education, physical therapist) were carrying out the meetings with specialists of the Pahinets Day Care Center and provided individual trainings for the children and parents - regular visitors of the Pahinets Center.
Individual work with children
Karen Feathers and her colleagues were impressed by and confirmed a high professional level of the Pahinets staff members. The President of the Ukraine Special Needs Orphanages Fund granted sets of equipment for children's classes to the Center and the outdoor swingset was built on the territory of the Pahinets Center.Furthermore, the Ukraine Special Needs Orphanages Fund expressed interest in recreation of special needs children in one of the summer camps not far from Rivne, which is to be provided with appropriate equipment.
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