Astana, Kazakhstan: UNICEF and Special Olympics have formed an official national partnership in Kazakhstan to create inclusive communities for children with intellectual disabilities. The project, designed to focus its efforts on eastern Kazakhstan, will bring a series of comprehensive services to children with intellectual disabilities, their families and the wider community in a concerted effort to ensure full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The agreement further strengthens ties between the two organizations and will engage local and central government departments, civil society, and a range of development organizations active in disability programming throughout Kazakhstan. The project, titled “Creating Inclusive Communities for children with Intellectual Disabilities” will include programming in the following areas:
• Early childhood development (ECD) initiatives;
• Direct family outreach and education;
• Inclusive sports for children with and without intellectual disabilities;
• Direct health services and interventions for children with intellectual disabilities;
• Clinical Training for medical professionals on specialized disability care;
• Partnership development with local government and non-governmental organizations to advance health, child protection and advocacy for children with intellectual disabilities;
• Public awareness campaign to sensitize the community as to rights and abilities of children with intellectual disabilities;
• Full integration of children with intellectual disabilities in community-based institutions and services.
“Children with intellectual disabilities are one of the most marginalized population sub-sets in the world. This innovative project with Special Olympics promises to serve as a model that can be further enhanced and presented, as part of our shared commitment to strengthening communities in support children with disabilities through inclusive practice. The partnership offers a unique opportunity for local government and NGOs to directly engage with children with disabilities, parents and caregivers. It will help make the statement that children with disabilities have the same rights as all other children, entitled to adequate health care, access to services, education and to live in a community that not only protects them, but engages them to participate fully,” said Jun Kukita, UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan.
“We are most grateful for the support and continued leadership of UNICEF Kazakhstan. Together, our two organizations can work to demonstrate that inclusive communities can indeed be a reality for children with intellectual disabilities and their parents and caregivers. Moreover, we are excited to bring this partnership and our focus on inclusion to a wider community, including to children without intellectual disabilities, medical professionals, local industry, the media and the general population to highlight the abilities and rights of our most vulnerable children. We are keen to focus on the eastern part of the country, where we know this programming can have a sustained and positive impact on our athletes, and their families” said Olga Bakhareva, National Director of Special Olympics Kazakhstan.
UNICEF and Special Olympics share a global partnership designed to advance the rights and abilities of children with intellectual disabilities, in support of the full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities. Signed into action by UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake and Special Olympics Chairman Dr. Timothy P. Shriver, the partnership currently features active programming in over 20 countries.
The discrimination experienced by many children with disabilities means that they are less likely to have access to early childhood development services, health care or education than other children. It may also undermine their self-esteem and their interaction with others and make them more vulnerable to violence, abuse and exploitation.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, signed by more than 110 countries and ratified by over one hundred, is the first treaty focusing exclusively on disability rights to be adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. The Convention offers a framework to ensure that children with disabilities have equal access to, and is included in, schools, health services and community life. It provides UNICEF and Special Olympics with a powerful platform to mobilize policy makers, industry, medicine, academia and entire communities in support of a global agenda for inclusion.
About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives through the power of sport by empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to 4 million athletes in 170 countries worldwide, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and related programs. Special Olympics takes place daily, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities all over the world. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy and friendship. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org. Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics; fb.com/specialolympics; youtube.com/specialolympicshq, and specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.