Photo, video 14:58 15 Feb 2024

Ukraine advances accessibility and mental health support programs

Photo: Office of the President

Ukraine continues its programs, expanding accessibility in public spaces and providing mental health support to citizens.

First Lady Olena Zelenska visited the western Ternopil region to see firsthand how local communities implement the "Without Barriers" strategy and the All-Ukrainian Mental Health Program, Rubryka reports, referring to the Office of the President.

Zelenska visited the Inclusive Resource Center, which ensures the rights of individuals with special educational needs to receive preschool and secondary education in the Velyka Berezovytsia community. The center provides training for inclusive education professionals and offers psychological and pedagogical support to learners.

Зеленська інклюзивний центр

Photo: Office of the President

The center also addresses the needs of internally displaced children with disabilities and special educational needs and their families who have been affected by Russian aggression.

Зеленська інклюзивний центр

Photo: Office of the President

Since 2020, the center has provided free transportation services for children with disabilities and musculoskeletal disorders who use wheelchairs.

Currently, the center oversees the education of 1,210 children who have undergone comprehensive psychological and pedagogical assessments (an average of 218 children per year).

"The theme of my visit to the Ternopil region is about making accessibility a reality, and providing quality education that is available to all is one of the main goals of the nationwide Strategy of Accessibility," said the Ukrainian first lady. "Each inclusive classroom, each lesson adapted with specialized textbooks, and every achievement thanks to the center's professionals is a step toward a better future not only for special-needs children but for the entire country. Because Ukraine is a country for everyone."

Зеленська інклюзивний центр

Photo: Office of the President

Olena Zelenska also met with the regional administration and the Ternopil City Council. The president's wife praised the region's efforts in promoting accessibility and equal opportunities across various spheres of life, like creating barrier-free spaces.

Ternopil was the first in Ukraine to launch an immersive multifunctional hub to improve the level of digital education, communication, and socialization for various population segments. Digital accessibility centers have also been established in the Lanіvtsі and Khorostkiv communities to provide equal opportunities for all social groups, including the elderly, people with disabilities, and residents of remote rural areas in online environments.

The region also introduced new employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. 354 people benefited from the "My Own Business" microgrant support program in 2023, creating 731 new jobs.  Ten winners will receive state funding to start or develop their own businesses through the "Veteran Business Development" program.

Zelenska stressed that the region actively participates in the All-Ukrainian Mental Health Program, with over 60% of family doctors providing psychological services in their communities. A public awareness campaign is underway to overcome the societal stigma of seeking psychological help.

"We will discuss the experiences gained in Ternopil at the national level at the Barrier-Free Council. Practical experience is important because it considers the region's reality, unique characteristics, and strengths," said the first lady. "Accessibility should not be somewhere else but here, next to us, simplifying life every day. And we need it not for someone else but for each of us — because everyone needs opportunities." 

In related news, Olena Zelenska and the Minister of Health of Denmark, Sophie Løhde, visited the regional children's hospital in Boiarka, Kyiv region.

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