We're Catchers in the Rye - we "catch" children, trying to make sure they have the best opportunities in life. In Russia, schools do not accept children with neurological disorders and other special needs. Our project of inclusive education lets them go to school, which is their basic human right. And including these children in classrooms also enriches the lives of teachers and other students, teaching them tolerance and empathy. Protecting somebody who is weaker than us makes us stronger.
Children with neurological disorders and other special needs are stigmatized and largely left out of Russian society. They are kept out of school, get few services and can be expected to live and wither at home or in special institutions (parents are often encouraged to abandon children with disabilities to the care of the state). Unlike Europe or the US, Russia has no state-funded state-wide programs for including children with special needs in public education.
We are the only non-profit that helps children with special needs be included in regular schools. We are showing that not only these children benefit from inclusive education. As this project spreads across Russia, we will be able to improve the lives of thousands of children (as well as adults - their parents and caregivers). This project will give children a chance for education - which they otherwise would not have had.
We are changing the way people see children with neurological disorders. One child at a time, we are showing how inclusion of children with special needs benefits everyone. It is so important to teach young children to be accepting, tolerant and empathetic. Our message is starting to be heard, and we hope that in time, Russian society, and the Russian government, will take on the work that we have started, to train teachers and provide inclusion services for children with special needs.