Armenia’s first parents conference

On July 27, more than 50 parents of disabled children from seven Marzes of Armenia gathered for a conference titled 'Parents to Parents'. The conference is the first in its kind in the history of the Armenian republic, and among the participants were representatives from the Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, and Ministry of Health.

As part of the ‘Towards Education for All project’, Mission East and our Armenia partner organization Bridge of Hope have organized, worked with and built the capacity of more than 25 Disabled Children’s Parents Groups across the country during the past four years. These parents groups have undergone extensive trainings on issues related to the special education of their children and the promotion of their children’s interests, including leadership and management, organizational capacity building, conflict management, and family counseling.

At the conference, representatives of various parents groups discussed their personal stories, the challenges they faced and the work they need to do in the future so for the integration of people with disabilities in Armenian society.

Lucy Tonoyan from Yerevan said:
"The long way we have gone can be served as an example of a success story to many people. My son, Eric, is autistic. He was three years old when we went to ‘Arbes’ Centre, where he started getting help from professionals. Positive results came after years of truly hard work. Now my son is enrolled in an inclusive school supported by Mission East and partner. My son is still different from the rest, but he is now more independent and can learn without my interference. I could not even dream of something like this. And during all times, I had the parents group on my side. This help is indispensable."

One of the issues raised was the necessity of the establishment of Parents Network so that the activities of various parents groups in different regions of Armenia will be coordinated and the advocacy work will become more effective.

August 2007