Krasnodar, 24 October – Yug Times. Three years ago, Natalia Popova founded the Centre for development of charity programs “Region of Mercy”, the only fund in the Krasnodar region that helps children with autism, cerebral spastic infantile paralysis and Down syndrome. Since then, her every day has meant the fight for the rights of ‘special’ kids, who usually are just ignored in our society. “The man problem faced by the parents of autistic and Down-syndrome children is their rejection by society,” Popova stresses. “They must be beware of the hostile glances in the street, whisperings behind their backs and aggressions at the playgrounds. As a matter of fact, these kids hardly have anywhere to go - those very few hobby-groups or athletic classes for ‘special’ kids in Krasnodar are not free of charge, and for the parents that pay huge money to treat their kids it’s an unaffordable amount. Quite often, the coaches lack special qualifications, but even if they have them, they may simply not want to assume responsibility for such kids.”
A year ago, the first adaptive rock-climbing wall was opened in Krasnodar. It was built for the money received as a Presidential grant. It was not a mere chance to choose this sport, because, as Natalia says, it teaches kids to be attentive, to fight their own fears, to cooperate, and to contact with the coach. That is, the skills that are broken in the kids with autism and Down syndrome.
Currently, Region of Mercy has registered over 500 ‘special’ kids from all parts of the Krasnodar region. Over the three years of work, the fund has accomplished many charity programs. One of them is called The Lessons of Kindness, where usual schoolchildren are told about their ‘special’ peers and taught tolerance.
Besides, the fund has developed an inclusive curriculum for ‘special’ children. One of the schools is ready to become the base school for such classes.
“As soon as we get the Presidential grant, we will immediately get down to organising the classes,” Natalia Popova said.
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