Special Olympics in Uzbekistan

This current event post is contributed by Jenna. What is the media saying about children with special needs? Preview this new article and then contribute to the discussion questions posed. Thank you and enjoy!

http://www.unicef.org/protection/uzbekistan_33269.html

Uzbekistan’s first Special Olympics challenges stigma against children with disabilities

This article discusses the first-ever National Special Olympics held in Uzbekistan in 2012. It was a very exciting step for the nation in moving towards eliminating the stigma associated with disabilities. It is also a demonstration of the Uzbekistan government’s commitment to supporting and protecting children with disabilities.

The article mentions that the number of registered children with disabilities in Uzbekistan has been increasing, with worsening economic conditions cited as a possible factor in the increase. The major infrastructure in place for children with special needs in Uzbekistan is institutionalization. However, a study showed that many of the children who are currently institutionalized could live with their families if the proper support systems existed. In 2005, the Ministry of Public Education issued a decree encouraging all education departments to mainstream children with disabilities.

I chose this article because it is a mini-success story that inspires optimism about a subject that can sometimes be upsetting. I am not surprised that Uzbekistan was so late to hold its own Special Olympics. Given the economic situation, that is not necessarily a priority for them. But I think the fact that they did take this step is indicative of a bigger movement within the country to increase support for children with special needs.

I also think that the current system of institutionalization in Uzbekistan poses some challenges for the future of this movement. The goal of improving the lives of children with special needs is theoretically consistent with the system of institutionalization, but there are some better alternatives that could accomplish this. I am particularly interested in hearing your thoughts on this controversial subject, as we have to be realistic in terms of what is feasible for this nation.

1.  The first-ever International Special Olympics was held in the United States in 1968. Why do you think it took so long for Uzbekistan to hold its own National Special Olympics?

2.  What are some ways you think the Uzbekistan government could continue to support children with special needs?

3.  What are some other reasons why the number of registered children with disabilities in Uzbekistan may be increasing?

4.  What are your thoughts on mainstreaming children with special needs into the public education system? When is it most effective? What are some of the risks?

 

2 thoughts on “Special Olympics in Uzbekistan

  1. I think one of the main ways the government could help to support those with special needs would be promoting things like this, and making sure there is plenty of media coverage of the ongoing games. It seems like they are taking positive steps to provide for the children in their country, and with someone as high up in the government as the deputy prime minister saying this is something that is something they support and giving their full commitment to helping all children it seems like they actually mean it. Maybe we can slip the prime minister a copy of Natalie’s article so they can have a model of how to do this in a really positive way.

  2. I agree with Anthony, that one of the main ways to help is through reducing the stigma and supporting resources that do exist. I think on top of this though that some of the programs they are instituting such as the Sunday School which provides social skills therapies and daily life skills could be expanded. Though it is good to have this resource once a week, to really be making improvements these children are going to need support more than just once a week.
    In terms of mainstreaming, it can be dangerous if it overlooks the child’s needs or keeps them from getting as much as they could out of the program. It is important that children are not just mainstreamed because of parents’ fears of the stigma associated with separated programs. From the sounds of this article though it seems as if the children are not having all of their needs met in the institutionalized setting. Deinstitutionalizing the support for children with special needs would not only help the children then, but it would also help reduce the stigma as children would be able to live with their families and hopefully attend a more typical school set up.

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