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Bridge of Hope

“Bridge of Hope” (BoH) is an NGO that defends the rights of children and youth with disabilities. Our mission is to protect their rights and dignity and to support their social inclusion in the Republic of Armenia. This inclusion is promoted by means of advocating for access to basic education, community-based services and equal opportunities for independent living. “Bridge of Hope” was established in 1996. Now we operate in Yerevan and 4 regional centers. In our society, people with disabilities face a number of hardships, starting from the very early age. Their parents and other family members face different problems as well, and some devote their whole lives to the defense of the children’s rights and dignity. In July of 1996, at a meeting of different specialists and parents of children with disabilities, an idea was suggested: to start an organization that seeks to defend the rights of children with disabilities. Thus, on December 2, 1996, “Bridge of Hope” was founded. Our education center was then located in small premises, where we were working with 45 children. That unsightly and tiny center, however, became the warmest corner for children and their parents. Now we have expanded our activities, and many of the children who have been visiting us during these 20 years have grown up to play their role in the development of our society. 20 Years towards Inclusion The history of ʺBridge of Hopeʺ is very eventful, and each of these 20 years was marked with significant achievements which are now sustainable values: 1996 December 2, 1996: ʺBridge of Hopeʺ was established by a group of devoted parents and friends. ʺChildren who study together learn to live togetherʺ – with this motto, ʺBridge of Hopeʺ has spread the belief that children with disabilities don’t need others’ pity, but they need equal opportunities and conditions to live in their families, getting quality education and to plan their futures by themselves. 1997 Our theater troupe was established. Many generations of ʺBridge of Hope’sʺ little actors have been spreading the belief that every child can succeed – they just need us to trust them and to believe in them. 1998 ʺBridge of Hopeʺ helped to form Parents’ mutual support groups where they could help each other to defend the rights of their children. Today, many schools have their support groups which help parents succeed in their struggle for social inclusion. 1999 The ʺSunflowerʺ magazine was established. Sunflower is a big flower with many seeds – big and small, full and empty. And they are grouped together to form this beautiful big flower head. And despite their differences, they are all together as one beautiful flower that always strives towards the sun. This is the message of our young authors. Many journalists in Armenia have made their first steps towards professional success here at ʺSunflowerʺ. 2000 Together with the Ministry of Education and Science, ʺBridge of Hopeʺ made the first attempt of practicing inclusive education at one school. This was an unprecedented step towards uniting children from ʺspecialʺ and ʺcommonʺ schools in the same institutions. This attempt (along with all the mistakes from which we learned a lot) became a turning point and later resulted in a whole new state policy of switching to inclusive education. 2001-2003-2004-2005 Child development centers opened in the towns of Dilijan, Ijevan, Berd and Noyemberyan. The centers provide various services to 650 children with disabilities and special education needs. 2002 Inclusive education: education for all. Together with the Ministry of Education and Science the successful experience of making a school inclusive was implemented in 5 more schools in Yerevan. 2006 ʺBridge of Hopeʺ is 10 years old. The best gift for our 10th anniversary was adopting inclusive education as state policy. Armenia became the first CIS country to make inclusive education a priority and is a regional leader by now. ʺBridge of Hopeʺ will go down in history as the initiator of inclusive education in the Republic of Armenia. This is why Susanna Tadevosyan, the founder and the head of the organization, was granted a gold medal of the Ministry of Education and Science. 2007 Family and child support community centers were founded in 10 villages in Tavush region. The villages of Berkaber, Gandzakar, Azatamut, Aygehovit, Vevkar, Achajur, Khashtarak, Getahovit, Tsaghkavan, Vazashen, Sari Gyugh, Norashen, and Chinari had their community centers, funded by the community budget. 2008 This is one of the most memorable years of our history when we started our project with the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs which allowed 4 centers provide all the necessary services to vulnerable children and their families in Tavush region. More than a thousand children and families have benefited from our centers. We are proud to be a reason of the fact that Tavush has the lowest number of special and boarding institutions in Armenia. 2009 Our first attempt in vocational education. ʺEducation, Employment, Dignified Lifeʺ: this was the message of the year. Bridge of Hope NGO invested vocational educational professions such as “Gardening” and “Carpet Weaving” based on the needs and strengths of people with learning difficulties. The Project was implemented and piloted in Yerevan State Humanitarian College and in Republican Special School N2. Bridge of Hope NGO pursues the inclusion of people with disabilities into the Sociality by promoting their education in schools as well as in vocational educational centers by defending their rights of employment and dignified life. 2010 Building an inclusive country through inclusive education Together with the Ministry of Education and Science and Tavush municipality, inclusive education was invested in all 77 basic schools in Tavush. This model became exemplary and lead to a number of legal amendments. 2011 ʺBridge of Hopeʺ was the first to start discussions about new approaches to recognition of a disability according to World Health Organization. This new approach was experiment was made among 28000 people in Tavush. The analysis of the study then led to amendments in the field of disabilities according to the principles and approaches of the World Health Organization. 2012 4 new subjects concerning the inclusive education were added to the curriculum in all the faculties of Armenian State Pedagogical University. Now the future pedagogues learn how to help every child to study as much as they can and be able to build their independent lives in the future. 2013 With the great support and direct involvement of ʺBridge of Hopeʺ, 4 NGOs were created: ʺWe Canʺ and ʺthe Sound of Silenceʺ in Yerevan, ʺWhite Falconʺ in the town of Spitak and ʺEqual Opportunities and Equal Rightsʺ in the town of Vanadzor. These organizations are the most active ones in our field.




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