Bridge of hope for thousands of children with special needs
Almost all 1343 Armenian schools have accepted children with disabilities, and the government is using experience from Mission East and Bridge of Hope to make the school system more inclusive.
- Together with Mission East, we have succeeded in achieving our goal of enhancing disability inclusive changes and development in Armenian laws and practices.
So says Susanna Tadevosyan, who heads the organization Bridge of Hope - one of Mission East's most important partners in Armenia.
Schools must meet students' needs - not the other way around
- Right now, over 1343 schools have accepted children with disabilities, and the government is implementing major reforms to enhance more inclusive and accessible learning environments in the mainstream school system so that children with disabilities have better access and participation at schools and achieve learning outcomes. All of this is based on experiences from the work of Bridge of Hope and Mission East.
This has meant that Armenia has adopted an inclusive school law, where the school system must be adapted to the pupil and not the other way around. This means that the learning environment and materials must be designed so that students with special challenges can also participate. And these students now receive both educational and psychological support services at schools.
A small organization with a big dream
Susanna Tadevosyan considers Mission East a valuable partner for Bridge of Hope.
- When we first met Mission East, we were a very small organization with a big dream of including people with disabilities in the Armenian community. We were so lucky to meet Mission East, and become their regular partner, she said at Mission East's 25th anniversary five years ago:
- It is a unique story where every single year has created change, not only in the children but also many adults who suffer in this world due to conflicts, disasters, poverty and disability.
Winner of a distinguished award by the UN
The Bridge of Hope was established in 1996 and now operates in the Armenian capital Yerevan and through four regional centers in the most remote rural areas of Tavush province. In 2014, the organization won an award from UNESCO for promoting inclusive education for people with disabilities.
Mission East began relief work in Armenia back in 1992, distributing emergency aid and establishing a hospital for people hard hit by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the economic crisis, and the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan.