ERC History

ERC History

The ERC began in 1998 as part of the Kehillah Project, a collaboration with Boston’s Jewish Community, through CJP. The ERC provides services to children and young adults with disabilities, many not served by community, education and social services programs. Through its steadfast efforts, Maale/ERC is regarded by the education and medical communities as a passionate advocate for inclusion.

Activity Framework

Ukrainian social policy related to people with disabilities is built on a medical view of disability, which refers to special needs of a child as disease or pathology. This approach diminishes a child’s social position and separates them from “normal”, “healthy” infant society forcing them to recognize their social inequality. All this significantly limits a child’s personality and turns their full-fledged life into a mere survival process. State-level adherence to this approach leads to an isolation of a child with limited abilities from the society and enhances child’s life passivity.  

The ERC questions this approach, as it strongly believes that the phenomenon of disability is not limited to its medical definition, but rather represents a social issue related to unequal opportunities.

The ERC’s initial program was called “Equal Opportunities”

Core principles of the “Equal Opportunities” program:

  • A new social and rehabilitation environment, which enhances socialization of a child with special needs and enables them to fully participate in social life.
  • Creating conditions for skillful integration into regular classrooms.
  • Educating and inviting families to participate in raising and rehabilitating children with special needs.
  • Family support
  • Using the ERC as a lab school for student teachers and student psychologists;
  • Creating professional environment for experience exchange, consultations, studying diagnostic tools and expert estimation techniques.  

Main ideas of the program:

  • A humanistic approach promoting respect and following an opinion that children with special needs are able to and should be full-fledged, interesting and useful members of the society.
  • An activity-based approach to education: a child is viewed as a subject/target of education, who benefits from teacher-parent involvement and interaction.
  • Innovative teaching techniques, which introduce a brand new scheme of integration as opposed to the existing Ukrainian scheme of disability.