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News letter Novem ber 2 0 0 6

Music Therapy for Children

The First Step Foundation

Music therapy has been proven to successfully mitigate issues related to physical, intellectual and social disability, especially in cases where normal cognitive therapy has proved insufficient or ineffective. Music therapy is used to: • • • • •

The First Step (TFS) was founded in 1998 in response to the horrendous living conditions of disabled orphans living in the state-run Kaspi Institution in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. Seven years later, we are proud to have grown and accomplished so much to help these children lead meaningful lives through better living conditions and proper care. Their lives are enriched thanks to our charitable work and the selfless donations of our worldwide donors. Today, these children’s eyes are filled with hope instead of despair as they reach for their personal potential as constructive members of society.

Regulate emotional problems; Develop social skills; Correct behavior; Revive and activate intellectual functions; Rehabilitate physical traumas.

Music is the process in time. This peculiarity of music and the pleasure given during parGiorgi Kirtadze and Niniko Arakheliani ticipation in the séance of musical therapy creates the ideal stimulus, which attracts attenwith their Music teacher Magda Dvali tion of the individual and motivates him to the cooperation. This process helps a person in coordinated movement. All movements are controlled by central nervous system, which coordinates muscle activity. This complex system is formed at birth. In those who have problems of intellectual development, the central nervous system is developed slowly and not perfectly. Control of movement might be exercised with difficulty or not exercised at all. Development of motor capacities is favoring the ability to assimilate material. Latest clinical studies prove that musical rhythm might be used effectively in rehabilitation of motor control and impairment of motion. In general, rhythmic motions are very important for feeling one’s own success, for strengthening of one’s own capacities, feeling of comfort and increase of self-confidence. Playing on a simple musical instrument develops and improves motor control and this contributes to the development of writing and painting skills. Music therapy for intellectually and physically retarded children consists of two parts: 1. Movement accompanied by motor rhythm dance songs for children and simultaneous vocalizing, which is directed for emotional discharge, activation of loco-motor system and development of communication skills and habits. 2. Listening to lyrical character classical music, soothing for relaxation. Active musical therapy, which unites movement, singing, and playing on simple musical instruments provides discharge, harmonization of emotions, assimilation of social behavior, and the creation of favorable terms for development of cooperation skills for joint activity. In the process of musical therapy melody of a song, harmony, meter, rhythm, timbre and dynamics are efficiently used for the improvement of communication skills and for the development of self-expression skills. Musical activity is able to improve vocal diapason, articulation, and speech skills. Under the influence of music the auditory and tactile stimulation of a person is a powerful therapeutic instrument. Multi year practical experience proved that children and adults suffering from intellectual problems react more positively to music therapy than all other educational and therapeutic strategies.

Can you help? Help us to give more children a better life......... We would be most grateful for any assistance you can give towards our work. Don’t forget a little money goes a long way in Georgia. Whatever you can spare, we can use. Do contact us and help a child. Are you an Irish Tax payer? If you are a PAYE taxpayer we can reclaim tax on your donation. If you do not pay PAYE but pay other personal taxes you can reclaim tax on your donation. Please contact

Are you a UK Tax payer? We can benefit from UK Gift Aid on any donation you make to TNS, if you are a UK tax payer. Please contact Edith Deacy for details

Are you a Georgian Tax payer? If so, you can reclaim a tax rebate on your donation to TFS. Please contact Theona at the TFS offices Tel.: (995) 32 252519 / 230140

The Next Step - Children of the Caucasus Reg Charity No in Ireland: CHY 13956

The Next Step - Children of the Caucasus Reg Charity in England and Wales: No 1109500

5 Clanwilliam Square Dublin 2, Ireland Email: Tel.: (353) 1 6619911

40 Uverdale Road London SW10 OSR, United Kingdom Email: Tel.: (44) (0)207 352 7071

The First Step ( TFS) mail: w w w. t fs. g e

Room 504, 74a Chavchavadze ave. Tb i l i s i , 0 1 6 2 , G e o rgi a

Te l. : ( 9 9 5 3 2 ) 2 5 2 5 1 9 ; 23 01 40 Fa x : ( 9 9 5 3 2 ) 2 5 2 5 1 9

The First Step Our vision: A Georgian society that provides equal opportunity to all to fully realize individual potential; to increase personal well-being; to contribute to common welfare; and, to ensure that children with intellectual and physical disabilities are a fully empowered part of society.

Au c ti on The hit American TV show “The Apprentice” debuted in Georgia and The First Step was the beneficiary of its popularity! One of the many projects assigned to the contestants was to plan and carry out an auction. On June 16, 2006 in an extraordinary sign of goodwill, the Bank of Georgia generously granted the proceeds of the auction (39,942 USD) to The First Step. Thank you Bank of Georgia and all auction participants!

The Next Step Children of the Caucasus Patron Mary Robinson The Next Step was registered as a charity in Ireland in 2001 and in the United Kingdom in 2005. These charitable foundations support the work of their sister NGO, The First Step. They do this by running fundraising events and they receive significant funding from private individuals and charitable private foundations.

President Mary Robinson with children in the TFS school Our mission: To promote social inclusion of intellectually and physically disabled children, to improve their level of care and living conditions, to remove the stigma which society continues to harbor against physical and intellectual imperfections in children, and to raise awareness and tolerance of their special needs through provision of services to the children and their families.

The Patron of TFS/TNS former Irish President Mrs. Mary Robinson visited the TFS village on Wednesday 4th October 2006. At the TFS School she was delighted to meet children, parents and teachers. She also spent time with the children in residential care who had organised a wonderful Autumn fair and also gave a small concert.

President Robinson with children in the TFS school

Former Irish President Mrs. Mary Robinson and Georgian Minis-ter for Education and Science Mr. Aleksander Lomaia took part in a Roundtable Discussion on Child Welfare and Deinstitutionalization organized by TFS/TNS. The meeting was also attended by representatives of the Ministries of Health, Education and Finance, Parliament of Georgia, UNICEF, Irish Aid, USAID, Save the Children, DFID, EveryChild, Public Defender Office, International Legal Expert on Child’s Right; President Mary Robinson with Minister of Education A. Lomaia

M o v i n g C h i l d r e n f r o m t h e K a s p i C h i l d r e n ’s H o m e t o an Alternate Living Environment The First Step is a non-governmental organization working on children’s welfare issues in Georgia, most notably with children who lack biological parental care. We work on a broad range of child welfare issues, although one of our priority directions focuses on Kaspi Children’s Home, an orphanage in Georgia where children are institutionalized in often appalling conditions with no access to adequate education or life skills for independence. The First Step has been working to move these children to alternative living arrangements where their personal and social development is a priority. Thus far, we helped to set up two adult (18+) homes in the eastern Georgian region of Kakheti. At the same time, we continue to work with Kaspi and similar places to assist them in offering modern child welfare services based on a human developmental approach. In our efforts to move children out of Kaspi, we work closely with the Georgian Ministry of Education, which holds overall responsibility for the process and acts as facilitator between our organization and the Kaspi administrators. The process of moving the children to new living places was initially planned in three stages with no more than 10 children being moved in each stage to three separate living arrangements. Due to conflicting interests, the process of moving the children to alternative living conditions has proved to be very tense and protracted. Despite the obstacles The First Step faced, we are happy to finally report that this project was successfully completed and we have moved a total of 20 children from Kaspi. Today, children who once faced abhorrent conditions at Kaspi are now happily adjusted to their new alternative homes where their personal and social needs are met by a trained and professional staff. Seeing the children flourishing in their new environments makes our work and all those who support our efforts the more worthwhile and important while giving us renewed vigor to continue our mission on behalf of venerable Georgian children.

Social Integration Programme for Residents of the TFS Village Social integration is the cornerstone of the Children’s Village: we strive for the inclusion of children in every aspect of social life, acquiring socialization skills, and using these skills and habits independently. Socializations skills are acquired through individual and group excursions to public places such as shops and restaurants, museums, theatre, and travel by public transport. In addition, the children learn skills through organized festivals, sport competitions, and participation in various educational groups. These combined activities contribute to skills in communication, social behavioral norms, independent decision-making, and self-control of emotions and critical situations. A multi- disciplinary team of tutors, a psychologist, an occupational therapist, a special-education teacher, and a social worker manages the Social Integration Programme. The children have planned and enjoyed picnics where they bought the food themselves, prepared dishes, and made a small concert for the audience. They have also organized sport competitions where they prepared the football pitch by painting and setting up team sides. Of course, the most fun was had when two of the village’s cottages played opposing sides in a competitive football match!

Gremi Gremi is a large property in eastern Georgia that serves as a home for those in state care who have reached the age of 18. On July 13, 2006, Gremi received 10 new adults aged 18-25, who joined 10 existing adults already living there. One of those transferred was Juna, a 16-year-old girl with mental desability who was transferred, despite her young age, because of the danger she faced in state care. With every transfer, the First Step staff takes great care to ensure a smooth transition for the adults to minimize the stress of transition, but this change was especially difficult for two of the adults, Elena Lopatina and Eduard Akhoyan. They wept and demanded to be returned to their old home. The other members of the community and the staff worked diligently to make them comfortable in their new surroundings. Elena started to shine after a few months of field trips, birthday parties, and a holiday on the shores of the Black Sea. Today, she is curious about the world around her, and actively pursues learning. Eduard requires a bit more support for his adaptation but is progressing satisfactorily. The other community members at Gremi are doing excellent; especially industrious and diligent is Zaal Khetaguri. The First Step staff tries to have frequent contact with those recently transitioned to new living places.

Joint Exhibition & Concert by Students On June 23, 2006 pupils of the integrated class, together with students from the 10th form of Public School #10, performed an exhibition of joint works and a concert. The integrated class is the first of its kind in Georgia where disabled students attend school together with able-bodied children. Nearly 300 works of art were displayed and the children sang a variety of songs with the accompaniment of national musical instruments. Preparation for the exhibition continued throughout the 2005-2006 academic year under the supervision of their teachers. Volunteers, a music teacher and a folklore specialist took active roles in preparing for the concert. The concert exhibition culminates a year long effort that brought closer ties between the children of the integrated class and the students of the 10th form. Friendships were formed as they practiced together and played in the schoolyard, thus contributing to the children’s social inclusion. In addition, the parents of these students became familiar with one another, thereby increasing the sense of community within the school. For an entire year, the children practiced daily and handicrafts were made during lessons with the help of teachers including handmade and sewn samples, embroideries, paintings, still lives, landscapes and models. These works show the children’s progression throughout the year and highlight their technical capabilities. On the musical side, songs were practiced together, phonograms were recorded, and rehearsals organized. The children were trained culminating in an orchestra of Georgian folk instruments. Other students of the school, invited guests from the non-governmental sector, officers from the local board, parents, media, and other concerned persons enjoyed the joint exhibition concert.

F i r s t Ye a r i n t h e F i r s t S t e p s c h o o l The “First Step”, a non-governmental organization working on child welfare issues in Georgia, started a day care center in October 2005. With five classrooms, it accommodates 30 children from ages 4 to 18 who suffer from severe intellectual and physical disabilities and is modeled after schools for able children. On June 28, 2006 the day center held its first annual “summing up” presentation where all 11 teachers publicly presented a child’s progress report for the year to parents, representatives of the governmental and non-governmental sector, the media, and two child development professors from New Zealand working on children’s welfare issues in Georgia, Dr. Jane Mary Rawls and Dr. Barry Sinclair Parsonson. The presentation highlighted each child’s assessment at the beginning of the school year, how goals for study were selected, how the activities for these goals were implemented, and the year-end progress toward these goals. The Center’s methods are based on behavioral analysis, which is proven to be the most efficient method for working with children.

Profile of Giorgi Gurieli Giorgi is a nine-year old boy suffering from tetriplegia: the effects of encephalitis and severe mental retardation. His eyesight is poor, he can move only his hands and is confined to his bed. Giorgi is only able to react to sounds and he can mock a piglet and a crow. He smiles and sometimes utters the word “mo-ther” by syllables. He is very close to his mother and if she is not nearby, Giorgi suffers tremendously. In October 2005, the First Step received information that Giorgi might be sent to an institution and quickly went into action to prevent this from happening. Due to the difficult financial and emotional toll his family endured caring for Giorgi (in Georgia, little to no social assistance exists for families with disabled children), they were going to place him in a children’s home, also known as an “institution”. Our social workers intervened immediately and Giorgi was able to stay with his family. With his mother’s pregnancy, attention focused on the possible negative effects on Giorgi’s physical and mental state due to the increased burden on his mother. The First Step social workers decided that the best way to preserve the family environment was to bring in a nurse to help care for Giorgi. One of the leading private banks in Georgia, “Bank Republic” runs a “Charity Fund” so the social workers approached it with Giorgi’s case to help fund the nursing care. In May 2006, the bank received detailed information about Giorgi and his family, and shortly thereafter, agreed to pay for nursing care of nearly USD100 per month for 5 years. This tremendous support by the Bank will preserve Giorgi’s family environment so critical to his health and happiness. Of course, Giorgi’s mother is extremely happy knowing that he can stay in the home he knows with his family’s love.

news2006-engl Nov  
news2006-engl Nov  

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