The aim of this project is to build the first inclusive playground in Yerevan Zoo for over 8,000 registered disabled children in Armenia who face public segregation. The lack of awareness for their special needs has left these children and their families at the margins of society. This playground aims to break these barriers and provide a space for integration. The interactions made possible by this initiative will help eliminate prejudices towards disabled children in all parts of the society.
Although in 2005 the Government of Armenia adopted the concept of Inclusive Education, stating that children with special needs should be educated with their peers in general classrooms, many of them still remain in isolated environments. A recent UNICEF study reveals that the problem is linked to the fact that the general public still perceives it impossible to assimilate them into a normal life. The inclusive playground aims to bring them back into the public eye and end those partialities.
The project is a tangible step towards more respect for the 8000 "hidden" children, offering them a rare inclusive space to interact and connect with others. In turn, the interactions with these children will put them at the forefront of public discourse and raise awareness about their needs. Cooperation with the RA government has ensured that all donations to this project will be tax exempt, and the country's leading telecommunications company has agreed to partially fund the initiative.
Play teaches children how to make friends, make rules and navigate relationships. But for kids whose disabilities keep them from using playgrounds, those opportunities can be lost. This project at the main zoo will promote an inclusive approach on all levels of the society by dismantling societal barriers that have kept these children segregated for years. This initiative will be a first step for expanding their opportunities in other spheres of society, such as education, the arts, and sports.
This project has provided additional documentation in a XLSX file (projdoc.xlsx).