Not so far in Ukraine, children from institutions of boarding type with special needs were isolated from the world.
Family-inclusive festival Just Like Me are steps to ensure that a child with special needs from boarding schools, orphanages, rehabilitation centers, children with disabilities and increased needs, could become a part of society so that they can make new acquaintances and become more independent.
Such practice in the world is already actively used, because it allows special children to develop and adapt to social life. And inclusion has many positive moments, not only for children with special needs, but also for ordinary children, because in this way they understand that all children are the same, like to have fun and play – it has been proved at the festival Just Like Me.
However, many leaders are afraid that the society may not accept their pupils. Despite all this, the program "Let's Improve Children’s Lives" of the United World Cultures Foundaion disproved this myth, and on June 10, 2018, the pupils with the Pugachivka Psychoneurological Orphanage (Zhytomyr region, Korosten district, Berezneve) and pupils from Belotserkovsky Orphanage had visited the festival Just Like Me for the first time in their lives.
Curators of detdom.info – Oksana Zolotukhina and of the International Social Organization Social Harmony – Olga Severin note that they have repeatedly noticed when they visited boarding schools, many children are striving for self-expression and creative realization - through drawing, dance, sports, music. "The inclusive festival united children for creative development and joint leisure, for example, boys from Belotserkovsky orphanage prepared a congratulatory concert program with a choreographic number and singing, and the girls stood on stage with the Queen of Ukraine 2018, Yana Laurinaichute.
"The pupils of the boarding school saw people in society. I do not want to create an "invisible cap" for them, under which they must grow, so I let the children travel under the care of educators, volunteers and the UWCF Charitable Foundation. Constantly hiding these children from society, and then demanding from people that they accept them - this is nonsense. In this way, we will jointly show the society that people are different, it's not scary, and we can communicate with people who see the world differently," explained Lesya Petrenko, director of the Pugachevsky Psychoneurological Boarding School. - "The girls became friends with ordinary children and with children with special needs who attended the festival."
There were no problems on Just Like Me festival, they all very well communicated, participated in a whole range of sports and entertainment and creative locations, contests with animators, danced, sang, served ice cream from the company Rud’, sweets from Volunteers of the Third Medical faculty (Pediatrics NMU). This all became a wonderful platform for interesting leisure, self-realization and finding new friends.
"Successful development of inclusion in Ukraine requires a lot of effort, since there are still some shortcomings. However, the process did begin. And it remains to be hoped that in a few years an inclusive society in Ukraine, in which people with disabilities are full participants in educational or entertaining process, threre is no obstacles to personal development, communications, respect, tolerance and mutual understanding, will be at a decent level", - summed up Lyudmila Lysenko, head of programs and projects of the UWCF Charitable Foundation.
The United World Cultures Foundation expresses sincere gratitude to St. Pokrovsky Monastery monks - Fianile, Galina, Anfisa and Stefania Bilenko, who gladly met our traveling children and treated them with delicious pies and herbal tea. And such a delicious dinner, which was in the refectory. Having heard the sound of the monastery bells, we admired the beauty and spirituality of our country. Satisfied and with new forces, all moved in their directions.
"The trip was wonderful, I have no words to describe the feelings which I and our children have received. I want to thank everyone who organized this event. Thank you very much for doing it, because this is a wonderful", - words of gratitude from Lyudmila Ivanovna Oleynikova, an employee of Pugachevsky Psychoneurological Boarding School (Zhytomyr region, Korosten district, Bereznevoe).
Organizers promised to hold such festival in future, so every year children and young people with disabilities could make friends more and more!