I just wrapped up my beautiful stay in Kiev where I had an amazing couple of days in Ukraine’s capital city helping to spread awareness about Down syndrome!
We are honored to take part in this incredible program through our U.S. State Department and American Councils that brings leaders from around the world together to make a difference in the world. Last fall, our team at the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) hosted an American Councils fellow from L’viv, Ukraine – Mariana Matys in Washington, DC. Mariana is also a mother to a beautiful daughter with Down syndrome and a phenomenal advocate. Earlier this year, Mariana applied to reciprocate the partnership, and we were accepted to take part in a week long visit to Ukraine to raise awareness about Down syndrome, provide our NDSS resources to the Down syndrome community throughout the country and help support the leadership of UDSO, led by the inspiring Sergey Kuryanov, to expand their existing efforts and mission.
Yesterday, we met with Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for Children’s Rights KULEBA Mykola Mykolayovych (a huge advocate for early intervention services in Ukraine), I also conducted a lecture for students, teachers and faculty from Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University about NDSS and Down syndrome in the US and wrapped up the day speaking with parents from ВБО «Даун Синдром» at their Down syndrome clinic.
This morning, I had the chance to see UDSO in action during a social therapy class, discuss opportunities for collaboration between NDSS and UDSO, toured two schools for students with Down syndrome and other disabilities, appeared on a local TV station -Соціальна країна – Social Country with Mariana and met with the dedicated team at the American Councils – those who helped make this important partnership all possible!
I am off to Zhytomyr now… but wanted to share an image from a historical Ukraine WWII Monument in Kiev- Mother Motherland – a great reminder, we’re all in this together and #advocacymatters!