IX International Forum 2021


25 November 2021

The event was held in Moscow on 22-24 November 2021 and brought together more than 400 participants from almost 90 cities of Russia. The opening ceremony was hosted by Vera Kurbatova, Head of Naked Heart online platform, and Dmitry Ignatov, journalist and Paralympic athlete.

One of the Forum’s main topics was the pandemic’s impact on support programmes and lives of people with disabilities. "In the new, unfamiliar situation for all of us, people with developmental disabilities needed even more support. The Foundation had to move its family support services online. This has been a positive experience, but even a successful use of digital resources is no substitute for face-to-face communication and offline work”, Asya Zalogina, President of the Naked Heart Foundation Russia said.

This time, most of the speakers at the Forum were Russian specialists from our projects that work with children with special needs and their families. During the last 10 years, the Foundation and its partner organisations were gathering their experience in adapting and implementing evidence-based programmes and were able to present it at the Forum. This year, there were over 100 speakers, which makes it a record, and for the first time as many as 14 parents were among them.

Several sessions were dedicated to supported employment. Antonina Steinberg, a self-advocate and a manager of Autistic City (a support project for adults on the autism spectrum): "People with autism have difficulty with not only getting jobs, but also keeping them. According to surveys in profile groups, about 60% of people with ASD have changed jobs 3 or more times in 5 years." To address this problem, Naked Heart launched a project on supported employment for adults with autism and/or intellectual disabilities. The first part of the project was a review of international and Russian experience in the field, and the second part now is the training of NGO professionals in evidence-based practices to train both jobseekers and employers.

Also, during the Forum, Foundation presented a newly published book called “How to Organise Leisure Time for Children and Teenagers with Developmental Disabilities". Inna Monova, Naked Heart’s programme director: "We believe it is important to provide a practical guide on how we can create conditions for children and young people with special needs to participate in leisure activities in any organisation dealing with leisure, sport and/or recreation. This book will be useful not only to specialists involved in rehabilitation and/or education of children or teenagers with ASD, but also to any professionals working in the areas of leisure, sport, and culture.

Topics like support programmes for children with motor disorders, support programmes for parents of children with ASD, challenges of implementing inclusion, adaptive sports, Special Olympics in Russia, and legal aspects of assisted living were among many others. Parents of children with special needs shared their experiences.

"When I think about the last ten years of our work, I think about the thousands of children with special needs who received professional help, and it absolutely changed the quality of their lives. I cry with joy for them, and I am sad that such programmes were not available to my family when my sister needed them so much",

said Natalia Vodianova, the founder of Naked Heart Foundation, at the closing ceremony of the Forum.

Due to the complicated epidemiological situation, the Forum was held in a COVID-FREE format.

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