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This platform has been created under the Regional Programme on Local Democracy in the Western Balkans,which is funded by the European Union and implemented by the UNDP

Embracing the Extraordinary: Celebrating the International Day of Care and Support With Special Needs Individuals

Empowering Lives Through ReLOaD2

The Regional Programme on Local Democracy in the Western Balkans 2 (ReLOaD 2) aims to help vulnerable groups to achieve a more inclusive community. It attempts to improve the lives of people with Down Syndrome through strong partnerships between local governments and community organizations that support such vulnerable groups. These efforts to date have proven effective in bringing positive changes to the communities.

In a world that often measures our worth by conformity and commonness, it’s crucial to take a moment to appreciate the beauty found in the diversity of our human community. On this International Day of Support and Care, we strive to continue to show empathy, understanding, and support for those affected by this disability.

Down Syndrome, a chromosomal variation that occurs in approximately one in every 700 births, has often been stigmatized by society. On this day, we must again reinforce the need to embrace the brilliance that individuals with Down Syndrome bring to our society.

‘Down Syndrome Kosova’ is an Association based in Mitrovicë/a South, on a journey together with ReLOaD2 and the municipality of Mitrovicë/a South that touches and impacts many lives. 

Xhenis Beqiri, the Dedication of the Down Syndrome Kosova and ReLOaD 2 Project

Xhenis Beqiri is the manager of ‘Down Syndrome Kosova’. Xhenis shared with us the impact that the ReLOaD 2 project has had on their organization. Having been selected as a beneficiary for the second time, the CSO is eagerly looking forward to another successful implementation and maximising its impact on communities.

In their initial call, the association focused on understanding and addressing the various difficulties faced by children and adults with Down Syndrome. Additionally, they offered services to support them in overcoming challenges related to social interaction, cognitive development, and physical well-being. One area that the association has taken commendable strides in is promoting a healthy lifestyle for individuals with Down Syndrome. By incorporating them into professional physical activities and encouraging healthy diets, they have witnessed remarkable success. There are inspiring examples where individuals with Down Syndrome have achieved weight loss, proving that with the right support and guidance, anything is possible.

A pivotal aspect of their progress lies in the implementation of ergotherapy. Through this approach, children have become more independent, gaining the skills and confidence to navigate their daily lives more easily. Moreover, the association has actively collaborated with schools to ensure that children are included in activities, fostering a sense of belonging and participation. They have also conducted training and informative sessions for teachers, equipping them with the knowledge and tools to integrate children with Down Syndrome into the educational environment effectively.

Climbing the Stairs: Success Story

The 7-year-old girl, S.M., had many challenges before engaging in ergo therapeutic exercises. She faced the inability to climb stairs. However, thanks to the dedication and expertise of experts and their implementation of ergo therapeutic exercises, a transformative change took place in S.M.’s life. Through the tailored exercises and support provided by the association, S.M. gradually developed the strength, coordination, and confidence necessary to conquer stairs. Step by step, both figuratively and literally, she overcame the obstacles that once seemed insurmountable. This example serves as a powerful testimonial to the incredible impact the association and project have had on the lives of individuals with Down Syndrome.

S.M.’s journey is an inspiration not only to other children with Down Syndrome but to all of us. It reminds us of the incredible resilience and potential that lies within everyone, regardless of our abilities. It reinforces the importance of creating inclusive environments and providing the necessary resources and therapies to empower individuals with Down Syndrome to reach their full potential.

Samra’s Journey with CSO Hareja through ReLOaD

Samra’s journey is an example of the power of seizing opportunities and never underestimating the impact they can have on our lives. Born in Prizren and now residing in Rahovec/Orahovac, she embarked on an internship through the ReLOaD project in CSO ‘’Hareja’’, which shaped her future in unimaginable ways.

As a recent Psychology graduate, Samra found herself in need of support and guidance for her professional growth. Working with children during her internship, she discovered a profound truth: every child has unique needs. The internship opened her eyes to the immense power of empathy and the individual requirements of each child. It was through this experience that she learned to see beyond the surface, to understand the complexities that lie within every young mind.

The internship helped her develop the ability to tackle spontaneous problems head-on, with an opportunity to embrace technological advancements; she honed her abilities to create presentations, develop daily and monthly planning skills, and embrace the digital tools that would enhance her professional prowess.

Perhaps the most profound lesson Samra learned during her internship in CSO ‘’Hareja’’ was the power of self-motivation. Through the challenges she faced and the triumphs she achieved, she discovered an inner drive that would fuel her ambitions and push her to new heights.

‘I would highly recommend it to all recent graduates because it is a great opportunity to safely take the first steps forward. I have had excellent cooperation with all project leaders, and we received prompt responses to any concerns or questions. The benefits are that you advance professionally and progress in your career’ Samra told us.

Nurturing a Culture of Care

Its stories such as the above highlight the significance of inclusivity and engagement with organizations and initiatives that promote transformative endeavours. There are numerous avenues through which we can drive progress and make significant contributions. We should persist in nurturing a collective ethos that supports the cultivation of care as a pillar of our existence, recognizing that the well-being of others serves as the cornerstone for fostering a supportive society and world.

Happy International Day of Care and Support!

Resource: Embracing the Extraordinary: Celebrating the International Day of Care and Support with Special Needs Individuals by UNDP Kosovo – Exposure

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