On December 3, British Ambassador to Armenia Katherine Leach, Deputy Mayor of Yerevan Aram Sukiasyan, and Yerevan Zoo Director Ruben Khachatryan came together to mark the opening of an inclusive swing for disabled children, on the International Day of People with Disability. The swing was donated to the Yerevan Zoo by the Armenian British Business Chamber and Rotary Club of Yerevan; their representatives also attended the event.
The event marked the start of the “Playground for All Children” crowdfunding campaign, the aim of which is to build Armenia’s first inclusive playground for thousands of disabled children in the country. The campaign is initiated by the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC) and the Yerevan Zoo.
“For us, ‘The Playground for All Children’ is more than just another improvement of zoo infrastructure. It will be the first inclusive playground in Armenia, which will also be accessible for children with special needs. We believe that this is an important step towards bringing respect and accountability for these ‘invisible’ children. We hope that the Yerevan Zoo will turn into a model for social integration – a space, which will be free of society’s artificial barriers and stereotypes. And of course, it will be a happy place for all children in Armenia,” said Yerevan Zoo director and FPWC founder Ruben Khachatryan.
Ambassador Leach encouraged all individuals, businesses, and organizations to support the initiative however they can. “This is the beginning of a very important campaign and I would like to urge everyone to join this campaign to help build the inclusive playground for all children of Armenia,” she stated.
The lack of awareness for their special needs has left many disabled children and their families at the margins of society. A recent study by UNICEF reveals that the segregation of disabled children in Armenia is in many ways linked to the problem that the general public still perceives it as impossible to integrate mentally as well as physically handicapped persons in normal life. This playground aims to provide a space for integration. It will promote an inclusive approach on all levels of the society by dismantling societal barriers that have kept these children segregated for years.
The “Playground for All Children” will be a tangible step towards more respect for the 8000 registered disabled children in the country. The campaign will be facilitated through the U.S. based Global Giving online platform through which anyone, anywhere in the world can contribute. To learn more, please visit https://goto.gg/19063.