Society 17:10 19/09/2022 Armenia

Targeted support through personal assistants – Viva-MTS

The lives of kids with special needs have improved as a result of the collaboration between Viva-MTS and the SOURCE Foundation. Their quality of life is increased, and the caregiver parent's stressful daily schedule is made easier. Some children exhibit amazing dynamics of mental and physical growth; with the help of a personal assistant, their incorporation into the process of inclusive education and socializing is made possible. The family is able to meet some necessities, including those related to health, education, and employment, as well as spend time with other family members and rest a little, thanks to the services of personal assistants, Viva-MTS said in a press release on Monday.

Since its implementation in 2016, the "Personal assistants for children with disabilities" program has extended geographically and now includes beneficiaries from various parts of Armenia.

Hayk, a 12-year-old boy from Vanadzor, has cerebral palsy and struggles with locomotion issues. Continuous rehabilitation therapy and everyday skill-building activities are required for Hayk's care. The care and development work is now organized in the provinces with the aid of personal assistants, whereas years ago similar services were only available in Yerevan. The program is still in demand for supporting families as well as providing care, development, and socialization for children with moderate to severe disabilities.

Within the framework of cooperation between Viva-MTS and SOURCE Foundation, Hayk welcomed the new academic year without tension and anxiety. His mother who just underwent a surgery has already recovered and can support her son. During a difficult period for the family, Hayk’s personal assistant Argam helped him to overcome the challenges. Personal assistant project sets up an environment where values are more imperative than work. Thanks to this, Hayk gained not only a supportive specialist, but also a friend.

"I am glad that during the past months we were able to create workplaces in the regions as well. For the first time, we had a male tutor-specialist who did an excellent job. This is a wonderful example for us all. The role of our main partner Viva-MTS was important for the successful process, not only in terms of project implementation, but also in terms of providing technical support. The development and monitoring of individual work plans in regions is carried out in an online format with the support of experts from Yerevan. It gives an opportunity to get involved in the work being carried out in the capital and to receive a lot of professional support, even in remote settlements. We took advantage of the opportunity provided by modern technologies: video calls, zoom conferences, remote discussions, etc.," said Marina Parazyan, the Founding Director of Source Foundation.

Hayk followed a personalized plan that the program specialists had created for him as he completed the skill-development tasks. The specialist worked under clear guidance that emphasized independence, sociability, self-awareness, and fine motor abilities. The youngster enjoys engaging in exciting activities, playing chess, and favoring mathematics over other topics. In addition to his home-school-home program, Hayk went to a sports facility with his personal assistant.

His mother, Lilit Mkhitaryan, assesses the efficacy of the program run in Vanadzor as well as the courses offered in Yerevan.

"We have made significant progress. Positive dynamics are evident. Speech, behavior, and physical activity are all affected. Hayk begins to move on his own as we almost start to walk. Hayk attended development and rehabilitation trainings at the SOURCE HOUSE development center as we actively participated in many foundation projects in recent years. Additionally, I learned practical skills and information in the SOURCE Foundation's sewing program. This year, I want to launch a social enterprise. A personal assistant can be really helpful in this situation. For our kids, they turn into an elder friend," added Lilit.

Hayk was enrolled in the program this year, too, but he will be assisted by a different personal assistant. Argam said goodbye to Hayk, but only within the framework of the program.

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