December 10, 2006

EVENTS: Armenian children's photos put spotlight on disability - "All of us are special, everyone is unique" photo exhibition at Yerevan Municipality

Armenian children's photos put spotlight on disability
08 Dec 2006 10:23:09 GMT
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Children Photo Exhibition entitled 'All of us are special, everyone is unique' has opened in Armenia's capital Yerevan. The exhibition is another opportunity to put the spotlight on disability - related issues to the general public through the eyes of Armenian children.

The photographs by children from Yerevan, Gyumri and other regions of Armenia illustrate the problems of people with disabilities to promote the idea of their integration in every aspect of economic and social life. The exhibition is part of series of events dedicated to the International Day of Disabled People organised by World Vision Armenia Child Protection Program in cooperation with UNICEF and Yerevan Municipality.

'These children need our friendly attitude more than assistance. Who says that having two hands and legs is a norm!' said Hrach Melkonyan, 15, the author of a couple of photos at the exhibition. 'My concern is that the people with disabilities should be under the shelter of our government, and I tried to reflect this idea in one of my photos depicting a disabled boy under the National Flag.'

In Armenia fear of being discriminated keeps children with disabilities away from social interactions, educational and development opportunities open to other children. Many end up in special institutions, which are often unable to work with them effectively for the lack of essential technical and methodological resources.

'I met a lot of children with disabilities, and I know how they feel. Many of them don't have friends; they are ashamed of interactions, and prefer living apart,' said Noushig Hovhannissyan, 16, a member of World Vision Armenia Gyumri Photo Club.

'Via the photos the children tried to bring into focus individuals who seek for integration in the society despite their abilities,' said Artashes Hakobyan, the head of World Vision Armenia Gyumri Photo Club.

In spite of some positive changes and efforts by the Government and NGOs to develop a legal basis and create more favorable economic and social conditions for persons with disabilities, there is still much to be done on the issue of people with disabilities in Armenia. Challenges range from lack of access to public buildings and transport to economic and social discrimination.
Chris Schuepp
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