16:32 | 09.06.15 | News | 6141

Inclusive playground opened at Yerevan Zoo with VivaCell-MTS support

Starting from 2013, Yerevan Municipality began implementing Yerevan Zoo reconstruction program, which was meant to fundamentally transform the whole environment of the Zoo, as well as keeping and care conditions for the animals. Around 1 billion AMD was invested for construction and landscape design works at the first stage of the program, and Yerevan Zoo celebrated its season opening on June 1 completely transformed.

Parallel to the start of this program, different structure, including environmental non-profit organizations, came up with proposals to participate in it. Namely the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets proposed to embed an inclusive component to the playground being built in frames of the program. Upon Yerevan Mayor’s approval the inclusive playground project was integrated into the Zoo reconstruction program. 

Starting from December 2014, a public fundraising campaign organized by the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets has raised funds from both citizens and partner organizations.

The peak point of the campaign was the Fundraising Soiree held on April 9, 2014 at Armenia Marriott Hotel. Representatives of private and public sectors, diplomatic missions and international organizations participated in the event.  The live and silent auctions, as well as voluntary donations totaled in 10 million AMD; the sum was matched by the FPWC’s General Partner VivaCell-MTS.

“Building an inclusive playground is important in terms of giving a possibility to children with various types of disabilities to have equal access to physical activities. This will have the most positive impact on them both physically and emotionally, will give them the opportunity to communicate and learn from each other, explore and develop their abilities and overcome psychological difficulties. Having all this in mind, VivaCell-MTS couldn’t be indifferent to this initiative.” VivaCell-MTS General Manager Ralph Yirikian remarked.

The project was also supported by Coca-Cola Hellenic Armenia, HSBC Bank Armenia, the staff of the EU Delegation to Armenia, the staff of the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, Armenian British Business Chamber, individuals and organizations.

The professional support and consulting was received by NGOs assisting persons with disabilities, such as Unison, Bridge of Hope, Armenian Mothers, Prkutyun, Child Development Foundation, Autism National Foundation.

A recent UNICEF study reveals that the segregation of disabled children in Armenia is in many ways linked to the problem that the general public still perceives it as impossible to integrate mentally as well as physically handicapped persons in a normal life. In many cases families with disabled children are marginalized due to prevailing prejudices and a lack of awareness for their special needs.

The inclusive playground will become a model space for social integration aimed at changing these stereotypes. It will be a fundamental platform for healthy development for children of different abilities, where they can have equal opportunities for education and play.