Giorgi is a 10-year-old boy who was born with Down syndrome. He uses wheelchair and has a speech disorder. Until now, Giorgi was unable to learn and fulfil all his potential because no school was prepared to meet his needs.
He is not the only one facing this situation in Georgia. Recent statistics show that 9,000 children are registered as disabled with the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs. That amounts to less than 1% of the estimated 930,000 children in the country that indicates that a large number of children with disabilities remain unidentified, and are not receiving the social, educational, medical and material support that they and their families are entitled to.
Now, Girogi’s story and future could change. He is attending a daycare center for children with disabilities that Save the Children recently opened in his town. While receiving a multi-disciplinary rehabilitation service, he is developing skills that will help him feel more inclusive in school and the wider community. The team at the center works actively on Georgi`s and his peers’ learning abilities and prepare them so they can start attending formal education. Giorgi is looking forward to progressing. “I want to attend classes at school as my friend Nikola does”, he said.
Save the Children in Georgia has been working hard and doing whatever it takes to support and protect children with disabilities. Through various projects and advocacy efforts, we are calling on the government to improve their policies and regulations and work towards removing the stigma surrounding children with disabilities as well as their families. Increased awareness and change in public attitudes towards children with disabilities is also key to assure that discrimination does not prevent them from learning and progressing.
The goal is to empower these boys and girls and give them the opportunity to learn and fulfil their potential.
This work continues now with the Every Last Child campaign, recently launched in Georgia. We will lobby and campaign to create an environment where children with disabilities have an increased access to quality services – specifically to inclusive education.