The creation of the Centre Parasolka, from the idea and construction process to support of the existing institution and its development, is a joint project of two organizations – the Charitable Organization "Medical Aid Committee in Zakarpattia" and Parasolka Association from Switzerland. Although it is currently a communal institution "Social Abilitation and Rehabilitation Centre "Parasolka" of the Transcarpathian Regional Council, the center's premises and land plot belong to our organization.
About the centre
October 16, 2009, the Parasolka Centre in Tyachiv, Zakarpattia, has become a home for 25 young people with mental and/or physical disabilities. This institution is a pilot project, an alternative to a psychoneurological dispensary, where orphanages’ graduates are transferred after reaching a certain age. This is the example of reforming services for people with disabilities in Ukraine according to the action plan for the reorganization of orphanages. The Centre carries out its main activity at the expense of state funding. And for the development of new services, partners are trying to attract sponsorship and seek the support of international organizations.
In the summer of 2017, representatives of the Department for the Implementation of the National Preventive Mechanism of the Secretariat of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights paid an unannounced monitoring visit to the Centre Parasolka. “We are incredibly pleased with what we saw. This is the only institution in Zakarpattia where people who are not able to take care of themselves, adapt to life and stimulate their own development and self-realization. This, in turn, will partially solve the problem of stigmatization of people with disabilities and taking an active part in society,” - Oleh Hrihoriev, one of the monitors, said. In their opinion, this institution is a great example of what boarding schools should look like.
All inhabitants are assisted by employees of the institution, including nurses, social workers, instructors in labor rehabilitation, and employees of the household unit. They work according to the socio-agogic concept, support and develop the individual capabilities of the inhabitants of the Centre, facilitate their maximum independence.
The first years of the Centre's work showed that most of the inhabitants, due to professional assistance and support, make significant progress in their development. Some of them have artistic or musical talent; others are indispensable in housework and skillfully take care of pets. It became clear that these young people have significant potential. What an admiration and approval of the audience is caused by concerts with the participation of "Parasolka" music band! In addition, their performances are an example of socialization and integration of people with disabilities into the community: the youth of the Centre is known in the city and district, they are invited to participate in local and regional events, and audience applauds them at festivals abroad.
Various opportunities to find yourself at work
Life at the Centre Parasolka focuses on a sustainable daily routine, taking into account the season, skills, and needs of the Centre's inhabitants. The day at the institution begins with a joint short morning workout accompanied by one of the nurses. Before and after breakfast, young people carry out their duties: they set the table for breakfast, wash dishes, clean their rooms and corridors, and feed pets. The inhabitants help with the housework: they wash vegetables and fruits, wash clothes, iron, and clean. Labor rehabilitation is carried out by the inhabitants on the farm. There are two cows, three piglets, chickens, rabbits, and ducks. Thus, dairy and meat products are produced by the Centre, they are nutritious and healthy. Vegetables and greens are grown in our own greenhouse in spring and summer. Daily employment also provides an opportunity for positive communication with animals.
Young people, according to their abilities, learn literacy and the basics of mathematics, they have the opportunity to do their favorite things. In their workshops, they produce a variety of products, both to order and for exhibitions and fairs. They make greeting cards, crochet and paint pictures in the creative workshop. Slippers and decorative products are made of wool in the felting workshop.
Colorful carpets, towels, and napkins are made in the weaving workshop. The young people love to work in a carpentry workshop, they make original wooden products – boxes for flower pots, multifunctional chairs, and much more.
Having job offers, the inhabitants of the center can develop themselves, while their work in different workshops helps to create such a necessary structure of the working week and gives them a sense of personal importance and significance. They have a strong spirit and endurance, overcome life difficulties, and strive to self-realization, independence and equality with all people.
Musical art and choreography
The youth of the institution has the opportunity to develop their natural abilities – vocal and dance. Now the repertoire of the music group has a large program: modern songs, religious songs, and folklore, both folk and modern dances.
The music band has twice represented Ukraine at international festivals for people with disabilities, which took place at a high level in Fribourg, Switzerland, and in Budapest, Hungary.
Establishment of an early intervention unit
The Centre Parasolka, due to certain legal norms, has been working during the early years as a youth department of the Vilshany Orphanage. However, caused by the reform of social services, the Centre became a separate legal unit in 2018, this created new opportunities for development. In March 2019, an early intervention unit was opened in the former apartment for volunteers as part of a state pilot project. During the first two months, about thirty families with children with certain developmental disabilities have sought counseling at the Centre. They are accompanied and consulted in the unit by a speech therapist, a psychologist, and a pediatrician.
Support for families raising children with disabilities
The support of parents, who take care of their children with disabilities at home and are mostly in very difficult conditions, has been an important moment for both partners from the very beginning of the project. Monitoring of social needs of persons with disabilities in Tyachiv rayon by CAMZ showed that officially certain support services are provided for such children by law. However, due to insufficient funding and lack of local specialists, in practice, these families receive only a meager portion of the support. Families with 18-year-old children are almost abandoned.
Despite this lack of support from the state, almost all families continue to care for their children and are unwilling to send them to specialized institutions, such as Vilshany Orphanage. They seek to create employment opportunities and supported jobs, development and employment, opportunities for their children to communicate and keep in contact with their peers.
After the preparatory work carried out by the Committee and the director of the Centre Parasolka, Oksana Lukach, in April 2016, the Parent Organization “Oberih”, was established in Tyachiv.
Since then, young people with disabilities living in Tyachiv and the district regularly come to classes at the Centre Parasolka within the preparation for the establishment of a daycare centre.
Given this, for the further development of the Centre Parasolka, Oksana Lukach, CO “CAMZ”, and the Presidium of the Parasolka Association have developed a concept for its gradual development. The Centre Parasolka should further be an example for the development of the Ukrainian sector of providing services to people with disabilities. The main areas of further work in the centre are training and education of staff and the establishment of a daycare unit. The next stages will include creation of jobs for people with disabilities within the social enterprise and the development of a week-long unit.