“Kvartal Louie” lodging, education, job center for wheelchair persons opened in Penza
Penza, 3 November 2014. PenzaNews. The special needs center “Kvartal Louie,” organized by the civil organization “Blagovest,” has opened in Penza on Berezovsky court. In this center, the orphaned young wheelchair persons will receive lodging, education and jobs. As the director of the center Maria Lvova-Belova told PenzaNews agency, Penza-hosted “Kvartal Louie” is the first institution of its kind in Russia.
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“We have had this idea for several years. When we worked with physically disabled children in a Nizhny Lomov residential care home, we saw all our effort end up in nothing, because the children have absolutely no future perspectives when they reach 18,” the agency interlocutor explained.
She added that while approximately 3% of children’s home residents manage to successfully adjust to the society, the rate for disabled orphans is even lower: the accessible climate in the country is all but existing, and education and employment opportunities for the physically disabled are scarce.
According to Maria Lvova-Belova, their center was built with heavy reliance on foreign experience.
“For example, we used the blueprints from Austria for shower rooms and kitchens,” the “Blagovest” director said. She also added that it took some time for Penza furniture makers to understand the intricacies of an unusual task they were given.
The inspirers, authorities and volunteers who helped make the project come real were invited to the official opening ceremony of “Kvartal Louie.”
As Yury Kuznetsov, president of union of people with disabilities “We are together” and journalist of “Sankt-Peterburg” TV channel, noted, this is the first attempt to create such a center for wheelchair persons.
“It’s worth pointing out that there is a permanently residing staff member that has been always present the project participants during their first day and later on helps them when he’s needed. The guys lived their first day here, and were alone – made meals for themselves, decided on who’ll go shower first, and so on,” Yuri Kuznetsov said, stressing that the project participants, who now make their own future, have begun their own independent life.
He presented the wheelchair persons with a doorbell as a token of home comfort.
Tatyana Peremyshlina, the director of the Nizhny Lomov residential care home, also addressed the “Kvartal Louie” makers with the words of gratitude.
She explained that her institution and “Blagovest” have been cooperating for many years, and thus the positive experience of their mutual work makes her confident in the new intiative.
“I worry for the fates of our children very much. But here they can study and learn necessary skills of the trade. Since I know those who built ‘Kvartal Louie,’ I believe the children will be surrounded by warmth, kindness and care. We gave them away into good hands, no doubt,” she said.
In her turn, Elena Stolyarova, the Minister of Labor, Social Protection and Demography of the region, expressed her belief that other social NGOs will follow the example of “Blagovest” and create similar projects with the aim to help special needs children adjust to the society.
“This is one of the few projects in RF that became a result of joined efforts by a civil organization and the Ministries of Labor of regional and national levels. 400,000 rubles were fed into the project from the regional budget to create the infrastructure necessary for habitation,” she added.
“Kvartal Louie” will open its doors for four wheelchair persons during its pilot period. The overall space has been designed for housing 6 people and includes four separate rooms, a living room, a study, a kitchen and a garage.
The Penza-based social and education center for special needs people “Kvartal Louie” aims to provide lodging, education and jobs to its participants.
Each member of the commune will be able to continue his or her education through an individual program. For some, it will be an evening school with the aim to pass USE and apply for a university or college course; for some, it will be a series of special professional courses. The habitation cycle will also involve social adaptation training. The program aims to ensure the continuity of education with integration with outside life.
“Kvartal Louie” inhabitants will be able to plan for their own everyday and personal lives on their own and with the help of each other.
Jobs will be an integral part of the commune’s life. The special needs people will be able to work in their own typography, creative workshop and charity projects, with the plans to expand their range of jobs in the future.
According to the project plans, 3-4 years in the commune will be sufficient to allow every project participant a chance to build his or her own plans for career path. The best success for a participant, according to the project creators, would be obtaining and living in a personal flat, or finding a foster family, as well as getting married.
The overall 2014-2015 budget for the project amounts to 3.5 mln rubles.