Thursday, August 19, 2010

Connecting the Rainbow Heading to Ukraine

I've posted about Connecting the Rainbow a few times before. CTR is an off-shoot of Reece's Rainbow that is designed to educate families and professionals in Eastern European countries. Education is so important in EE countries, because families are not told the truth about raising a child with Down syndrome. They are told to put them into an institution or an orphanage. There are only a few families in these countries that actually keep their children with Down syndrome.

Actually, there was one family a few months ago, who, by the encouragement of RR, brought their child home out of the orphanage to live with them.

As I've posted about before, CTR has made a couple trips to Bulgaria to deliver resources and therapy items to families there. They will be going back to Bulgaria in March 2011 for World Down Syndrome Day for a 2-day conference.

Our book has made it to Bulgaria with CTR and to the families there. It also recently went with a family who was adopting from an orphanage in Ukraine to give to the director of the orphanage . . . he actually requested books on Down syndrome.

CTR has been working on ways to give more information, resources and therapy items to families in the Ukraine and Serbia. And just to educate the public there. Well, they have been given an amazing opportunity to attend the DownsEd International Down syndrome conference in Kiev, Ukraine!

Here's a bit of info that Shelley recently posted about the upcoming trip to Kiev:

In the midst of the beginning preparations for the CTR trip to Bulgaria next March, we were given an exciting opportunity to make face-to-face contact and really "open" our program in Ukraine!
Though the timing was a big unexpected (and fast!), the opportunity was too great to pass up.  I, along with Reece's Rainbow's Ukraine coordinator, Meredith Cornish, will be attending the Down Syndrome conference in Kiev, Ukraine!!! We will have the opportunity to meet with birth families in Kiev, speak with leaders of the Down syndrome group to assess how we can best support the families and visit the new Down Syndrome Early Development Center. We are extremely blessed to have this opportunity for face-to-face meetings with the parents that are right now "in the trenches" in Ukraine, working to change the minds and hearts of their society about the value and potential of people with Down syndrome. Just like in Bulgaria, we know that meeting these families "where they are" is THE most effective way to truly understand their needs and to plan for the most effective way to partner with them and support them and their children.

In addition to the exciting things happening in Kiev, we've been given a 2nd opportunity to impact another area of Ukraine. Connecting The Rainbow will be partnering with another organization to assist in supporting a special needs center in the Donetsk region of Ukraine. The center is in the city of Artemovsk and will serve ALL children with special needs and their families in the community and surrounding areas. It will be a place for families to come for support, information, resources, etc. It will be a place for the children to receive therapy, to play with developmentally appropriate toys and to interact with other children. We are very excited about the opportunity to assist with this project as it will serve so many children with a variety of special needs. There are already over 190 families signed up to receive support from this facility!

So, there are a lot of exciting things happening in Ukraine! Connecting The Rainbow has been given incredible opportunities to partner with families in Ukraine and to assist them in providing for the needs of their children. We're currently in the process of compiling a list of items that will be needed for the special needs center in Artemovsk and also items that the families in Kiev want/need as well. We're looking forward to the opportunity to be able to visit both facilities, gather a lot of information and take lots of pictures to share with all of you!



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