President's wife Olena Zelenska and UNICEF Representative in Ukraine Lotta Sylwander visited a private social protection institution for orphans with disabilities and got themselves acquainted with the conditions of the small group home, which is an alternative to boarding schools in our country.
Currently, six orphans with disabilities aged five to eight are being raised in Ukraine's first pilot small group home called Happy Home. Children live like in a normal family. They have their own rooms, learn to follow the rules of basic hygiene, engage in household activities, gain knowledge individually, prepare for studying in inclusive classes and try to interact with society: communicate with neighbors, have an opportunity to play with other children.
During the conversation with Olena Zelenska and Lotta Sylwander, Happy Home director Oksana Sydorchuk noted that such institutions are an opportunity for children who have little chance to live in families to avoid isolation for life.
"We create conditions for the rehabilitation of orphans with disabilities, so that they become close to us, necessary for friends, capable for school, prepared for life, loved and accepted by someone," Oksana Sydorchuk said.
Olena Zelenska stressed that the everyday life of the social protection institution is really almost no different from a regular home life. According to the First Lady, such a family environment is the key to the integration of children with disabilities into society and reduction of their social exclusion.
"The practice of a small group home is very common in the world. I had an opportunity to get myself acquainted with the work of one of them during a visit to the Republic of Lithuania and was impressed by the results. For Ukraine, such homes are still a new phenomenon, but today I once again saw how children with disabilities can change when they are surrounded by real care. And I am sure that such forms of education are the best alternative to traditional orphanages and boarding schools, and it is important to develop them," the President's wife noted.