Step Up Orphan Opportunity Center is creating a permanent base in the remote Pskov region of western Russia to hold integration camps for disabled orphans from a local orphanage. The project will attract volunteers and specialists from Russia and Europe to conduct developmental activities and assist the orphanage children in their transition to independent living.
The Belskoye Ustye orphanage in Pskov region is home for about 60 children with severe mental and physical disabilities. The orphanage is located 15 miles from the nearest town and the children do not have access to expert care and are almost entirely isolated from society. Many of the children will be transferred to adult institutions after they turn 18, spending the rest of their lives in closed institutions with little or no opportunity for personal development or work.
With a permanent center - a house in a nearby village - Step Up will be able to create a base for volunteers and specialists to work with children and staff at the Belskoye Ustye orphanage: offering new opportunities and skills to staff and assisting the children achieve educational, personal and independent living goals. The center will build on the experience Step Up's education center in Moscow, and use set piece Summer Camp and Winter Camps run by volunteers, to build productive relationship
The center will work with orphanage staff to steadily increase the ability of children to live on their own: allowing them to move to halfway houses or sheltered accommodation once they leave the orphanage. This will allow more children to avoid lifelong institutionalization. Attracting volunteers and specialists will help open up Russia's orphanage system, spread better practice and raise awareness of the social problems facing Russia's orphans.
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