HealthProm’s work in Ukraine focuses on supporting the development of the national agenda on Early Intervention with young children, and strengthening parent-led advocacy for children with disabilities.
Part of this project uses a participatory approach to train parents of children with disabilities in several regions to interview and collect the stories of other parents.
These interviews, or ‘Life Stories’, are powerful advocacy tools. With the consent of the interviewee, they can be used publicly and in the media to raise awareness of the needs of children with disabilities and the importance of Early Intervention services.
Olga Yurasova is one of the parents involved in our project. A mother of a child with a disability, she travelled from East Ukraine to the capital Kiev to attend an interviewer training. The training was led by a UK expert in oral testimony methods. A professional journalist and writer, Olga was initially doubtful that she would learn anything new from the training. But she had an unexpectedly positive experience.
The Life Story project personally affected me and became part of my life […] Besides meeting new extraordinary people, I was presented with a formidable learning experience […] Now I know exactly what I need to do in my town. We have to create a strong parents movement, to implement Early Intervention services in order to help those children who are not even born yet. This is what really counts.
She continues to be motivated by the training, and is committed to using the new skills to publicly advocate for the rights and needs of children with disabilities.
I have already completed three interviews with parents from my region in East Ukraine as well as my own life story. I am ready to work in cooperation with all media organisations. The material we have gathered is priceless and must be published.
Olga now describes herself as an activist for people with special needs. She goes on to explain:
We cannot fail the parents we interviewed; we must meet their expectations. This project must be effectively implemented so that we reach everyone concerned: government officials as well as social workers and the average Ukrainian citizen; to show them that children with special needs do exist, they live close to us and need help and support. Early Intervention services are crucial and enable the child and his family to get the appropriate care in the early stages to ensure that all children with disabilities get a good start in life.
HealthProm’s work in Ukraine is supported by the European Commission and UNICEF, and implemented jointly with our partners, the Charity Fund Early Intervention Institute, Kharkiv and the National Assembly of People with Disabilities.