Since 1994 we've supported over 2500 children with special needs and their families. Do you know what is the common denominator in ALL of them- the lack of access to leisure time and family fun! In Bulgaria disability is still so stigmatised and the lack of welcoming infrastructure is so obvious, that many times the families are stuck at home with no proper access to tourism, leisure time activities and family entertainment. And now is the time to change that!
Our project will take part in 2 regions of Bulgaria- Varna region and Svishtov region
The regions are quite different, but the common things are:
- not many or not at all conditions for children with special needs and their families for leisure time activities
- no wheelchair accessible eco-paths
- no wheelchair accessible beaches ( both on the Black Sea and the Danube)
- no calm-open-air or adapted playground for children with special needs
- not existing systems for family support towards leisure time ( f.e. community support or institutional support, provided nurse/baby sitter support for evening out, etc)
All current conditions of support that exist are in the field of therapy or/and education ( if any). Families who have disabled or special needs children are considered fun-less by the state, community and other people. We want to make those families visible.
Our idea sparks community dialogue and visibility for the diverse community we live in. If you go out on a street in Bulgaria now you will see generally white and healthy children- but where are the children with Down syndrome, the children in wheelchairs?Where are their parents? In our country currently there is a on going educational reform for inclusive education and the open access for kids with disabilities and special needs in public educational system. But most times institutions don't consider ANY other engagement with our families- it does not start and end with education - there are some many things a child needs and so many things that children without disabilities can do as families, while families with children who really suffer exclusion, suffer even more when it comes to fun
We are doing it for/with the children with special needs and their parents and extended families. In a way we are also doing it for the whole society which needs to recognise that there is diversity in each community.
1) Empowering meeting for families in Varna in Svishtov
2) Right based approach training for families in both regions and mapping concrete proposals
3) Pitching the proposals to authorities with concrete ideas, locations, timeline and prognoses impact ( for example if this beach is wheel-chair accessible X children in your region would be able to use it and this would support in the following ways their families...)
4) Community work with support of volunteers on creating the "Access to fun" reality
6) Meet up between the community from Varna and Svishtov and exchange visits between the adapted areas for tourism and playgrounds
- between 80 and 100 trained families to self-advocate and work on their rights with the means of the rights-based approach
- at least 2 accessible playground in Varna region and Svishtov region
- at least 2 adapted/accesible eco paths/beaches in each region
- informed and empowered communities which will see diversity in reality
The first part of our project is pure self-advocating for families with children with special needs and we hope that the qualities these families develop during the trainings and the duration of the period will be a filter that they will use during all of their decision making.
Also we think it is important to "train" also the authorities and the rest of the communities that what our families want is not "extra", but it is a basic human behaviour and the fact that we can not exercise it properly due to lack of engagement towards us and our children, is at least unfair. Our children are seen more as their conditions and diagnosis, rather than as children.
Each of our organisational effort is targeted in the support and development of the local reality in Bulgaria. We help not only by providing therapy, but by our voice which reflects the voices of hundreds of mother, fathers and children. We have seen the damage that isolation does to families and we want to end it and make society see all children as they are-children with rights for childhood.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Empowerment meeting in Varna and Svishtov - 2 days - 4000 EUR
Right based approach training in Varna and in Svishtov 4 days - 8000 EUR
Communication - 1000 EUR
4 x Place-making ( it really depends what parents will propose and decide) 4 x 7000 EUR
2 Beach paths for wheel chair access ( one on Danube river in Svishtov and one around Varna on the Black Sea) - 2 x 3500 EUR