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Director of the Charitable Fund «Downside Up» was among the 75 most distinguished people of the country

«Russian reporter» magazine presented a list of «75 most distinguished people of the country»— a study of positive reputation in public activities among benefactors, urban activists, human rights defenders, ecologists, educators and animal rights activists. Anna Portugalova — Director of the Charitable Fund «Downside Up» was noted with appreciation in the category of «Benefactors — assistance to elderly people, children, people with disabilities, and socially unprotected groups».

In the preface of the publication on behalf of the editorial staff, they wrote: «This is not a rating, we don't categorize places. It is a way to get to know the country better. We initially thought of compiling a list of 50 respected people in five categories, given our limitations, as well as the number of interviews and expert surveys, that we could have accumulated. But it turned out that in one of the categories — among the benefactors — still cannot meet the top ten because of the large number of recommendations. We did not dare to make our choice arbitrarily without taking into account the views of experts. Then it turned into 75».

Anna Portugalova, Director of the Charitable Found «Downside Up» told: «The fact that I was among the number of 75 the most respected people in the country is a complete surprise to me. This is not only a great honor for me. This is primarily the foremost recognition of services and activities of the Fund, the work of our entire team, I am happy to be part of. This year our Fund celebrates its twentieth anniversary, so recognition of merits of «Downside Up» just now is very symbolic. It is doubly pleasant and honorable to be in such a nice and reputable company. The fact itself is noteworthy that a known Publication noted different people of charity and public organizations, human rights activists, environmentalists, educators, and others. All those people who engage in good deeds really change the situation in our country and most important that these are not slogans, not words, but deeds and actions. Proactive people, who are caught with the idea, can energize others by their energy. The society had already appreciated those activities by the changes taking place in Russia. I’m grateful to «Russian reporter» magazine which brought up and voiced so important subject».

Downside Up Charitable Fund celebrates its 20th anniversary!

This year the Downside Up Charitable Fund in Moscow celebrated its 20th anniversary. Downside Up is the first Charitable Fund in Russia aiming to improve the quality of life for children with Down syndrome and to dispel stereotypes about them. The Fund has already started to receive congratulations and presents - contributions to support programmes for children and teenagers with Down syndrome. You can help children by making a donation yourself or on behalf of your company at the Downside Up’s jubilee page.

During this time, we have come a long way from a small organization that has helped several dozen families, to the Recourse Center that distantly supports thousands of people with Down syndrome in Russia and beyond. Currently the Fund processes, systematizes and transfers to other organisations gained experience, innovative in pedagogical and educational spheres.

Thank to the great efforts of professional Fund's team, support of their friends and partners every family can get any information on Down syndrome and participate in Downside Up's programmes. During these 20 years significant efforts have been made. Those are some of the achievements, of which the Fund can be justly proud:

We created many forms of face-to-face and distance learning support for 8 350 families;

- A unique well-structured library has been established for families and specialists consisted of our own author's developments, periodicals and translated literature, 241 600 copies of books and journals were produced;

- Courses of enhanced qualifications for specialists have been developed, about 21 150 specialists, parents and NGO members were trained.

- Thanks to awareness raising activities and «CHARITY SPORTS» events, which involved more than 19 000 people, the Fund made positive changes for families, raising children with Down syndrome.

All these years the Fund was responsive to the changing situation in the social sphere and responded to the emerging needs of families. Therefore, Downside Up's teachers with 20 years of pedagogical experience, created a variety of family support forms: social support, studios of creative and social development for children, parents' club, electronic newsletters «VyrastayKA», training videos for parents, programmes for families with children older than 7 years, career counselling programmes for teenagers. They create and expanded opportunities for participation in sports for people with Down syndrome in Russia with the help of «CHARITY SPORTS. KIDS» programme and many others.

There are many changes in educational sphere. Downside Up has already been working for several years as the Education Center, which provides trainings and methodological support for professionals (teachers, psychologists, educators, etc.), who are working with children with Down syndrome and their families. After the course, each specialist receives a certificate of enhanced qualification of the state standard. There are also educational activities for parents. Published and distributed new speech development methodological guide for Children with Down syndrome «Let’s Start to Talk!» designed at Downside Up and followed by workshops.

One of the most exciting and important events was establishment in 2016 charitable fund «Syndrome of Love». The new Fund has an important role – fundraising for ongoing and new programmes of Family Support Center «Downside Up» supporting people with Down syndrome.

«I want to thank everyone who is involved in the Fund's activities - all those who were alongside Downside Up for 20 years, support our children, participate in our events «CHARITY SPORTS», those who joined recently! Thanks to our common efforts in Russia, there have been many positive changes in the lives of people with Down syndrome and their environment! Thank you for being with us!» - Anna Portugalova, Downside Up Director.

The effectiveness of the Fund's programs is recognized at Russian and international levels by such organisations as the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, the Institute of Correctional Pedagogics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University, the Russian State Social University, Down Syndrome International, European Down Syndrome Association, the International Society on Early Intervention, FIFA, Oxford University Press and others.

Conference on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Downside Up Charitable Fund

This year the Downside Up Charitable Fund in Moscow celebrated its 20th anniversary with a national conference, themed: «People with Down Syndrome and other special mental needs: Right for the future». Downside Up Charitable Fund is an EDSA member since many years. Over 300 participants from 60 Russian cities came to inform themselves in numerous lectures and workshops and to exchange experiences and good practices.

On Friday 1st December the conference was opened by Anna Portugalova, director of Downside Up and Florence Garrett, a young woman with DS (see picture at the top). Aleksander Borovykh, the strategy director of the Charitable Fund give an overview of the situation of people with DS in Russia.

In the following panel ten different short lectures were given in plenum. These topics were then presented more in detail in the afternoon and discussed with the audience in round table sessions.The evening was dedicated to the Award ceremony. Lot of individuals and groups were allocated for their outstanding work.

On Saturday, 2nd December 16 workshop-sessions «Effective practices» were offered and the issues discussed in smaller groups. After lunch families with their children were invited to a festival with theater- and dance performances, different sport and fun activities for the children, like a mini-football training.

DS EXPERTS FROM DIFFERENT COUNTRIES INVITED TO MOSCOW

Downside Up invited a few DS experts from abroad to enrich the conference with their contributions.

Gert de Graaf from the Stichting Down Syndroom in the Netherlands presented his research work, which provided the basis for an overview of birth and population prevalence for Down Syndrome in Russia.

Amy Allison, a therapist from DS Guild of Greater Kansas City, USA presented a model on how to build a support network for individuals with DS.

Veronique Garrett, who with her daughter Florence were the instigators of the Downside Up Charitable Fund had a talk about how an active social life for people with special mental needs can be organized.

Cora Halder, German Down Syndrom InfoCenter, presented topic «Education in mainstream and special schools under the aspect of preparing for a job».

One of the workshops on the saturday was given by Christel Manske, from Hamburg, Germany.

Every foreign speaker had its own personal interpreter, so was able to follow the lectures. In the weeks before the conference these interpreters had translated the presentations in Russian language. They also translated our talks for this very interested audience. Besides that they were always on our side and also helped us through the very challenging subway system in Moscow, so that we could not get lost.

The conference was very well organized. Lectures were short and to the point. Experts from different parts of Russia talked about: the situation of people with DS in Russia; perinatal support, effective models of Early Intervention; career guidance and employment; supported living, social orphanhood and other topics.

Downside Up won the grant!

Moscow`s government Public Relations Committee informed public of «The Grant Competition – 2017» results. Downside Up Charity Fund was among the winners, and received a grant in nomination «Clemency and care: assistance physically challenged, and people with serious and desperate diseases ». The victory ensures that Downside Up Charity Fund can help to raise qualification of Moscow specialists, working with children suffering from Down syndrome and their families.

The Committee`s Chairman Alexandra Alexandrova noticed that this year`s applications were well-thought-out. It was a step up in comparison with the last year. The number of NPO (non-profit organisations ) which took part in the Competition has also increased. «181 organisations were considered as the best. We are sure that Moscow government`s investment of 273 million rubles in the best projects will be helpful for the good of society», - Alexandra Alexandrova said.

Children with Down syndrome have got acquainted with the work of the Fire Service

Children with Down syndrome visited Fire Station No. 4 in Moscow. The guys and their parents were shown the firefighters on duty, where they live while on standby duty, how they receive fire-alarm calls and what tools and equipment they have.

Young visitors also were told how to put out a fire properly and how to behave upon detection of fire. The biggest excitement and emotions were from a photo session in a real fire truck and splashing around under water jet spray on a hot summer day.

Downside Up took part in the round table discussions on the occasion of world down syndrome day

Charitable Fund “Downside Up” took part in the special event dedicated to World Down Syndrome Day and organized by inclusive theater project “Interaction” in cooperation with New Space Theater of Nations.

Downside Up’s pupils participated in inclusive training for actors led by Boris Pavlovich, art director of socially educative department of Tovstonogov State Academic Bolshoi Drama Theater of Russia. A round table “Interaction Between a Painter and a Disabled Person” was held in the evening. Participants discussed the following questions: what do we mean by inclusion in the arts and how can it help our society to learn to recognize other people? Can this kind of special theater catch the interest of a viewer, not related to the “problem”? What can help this social project to become commercially viable, and special artists to get paid?

Nikolay Ilnitskiy, director at Downside Up’s Drama Studio was the speaker of this round table and shared how shadow play help children with Down syndrome to express their feelings, to increase their self-esteem and confidence and to socialize.

Downside Up and RSSU have signed a Memorandum of Understanding

Charitable Fund Downside Up and Russian State Social University have signed a Cooperation Agreement in the sphere of inclusive education and inclusive adapted physical education. Anna Portugalova, Downside Up CEO, and Natalya Pochinok, the RSSU Rector, subscribed their names to the Memorandum.

The participants of the ceremony pointed out the importance of understanding and gave high marks to the perspectives of the future cooperation in scientific research, education and consultations.The aim of the collaboration is to establish the infrastructure of social adaptation, integration, rehabilitation and assistance in improving the quality of life on basis of collaborative projects and events.

Anna Portugalova told about the meeting afterwards: “Together with the RSSU Rector Natalya Pochinok we discussed the plans for our closest cooperation. They concern football training lessons for the children with Down syndrome who attend Downside Up within the framework of “Charity sport” project and developing a technology to be transferred to trainers. We also touched the theme of joint educational programmes for social workers and psychologists. I may say that the agreement between us is both a high honor and invaluable help in our work. The resources of the largest social university in our country will help our fund to transfer our many years` experience to professionals and students. The cooperation with RSSU is the recognition of our achievements as well. I`m sure that our collaboration will help to fulfil our mission which is improving the quality of life for people with Down syndrome. We may try to make our long-cherished dream come true by combining our efforts”.

“A Memorandum of Understanding is very essential to us, - Irina Menshenina, DSU development director, emphasizes. “It gives us support from the scientific society in the sphere of transferring our long-term experience which we share now as practicians. To help this experience become significant for professionals, it should be supported with methodologies based on research which is a key moment for higher education”.

Downside Up was recognized as the best company of the year 2015

The business awards gala ceremony for the winners of the prize for “Best.ru / Company of the year-2015” took place in Moscow. Charitable fund Downside Up was recognized as the best company of the year in “Social projects” nomination for “Charity Sport” project. Evelina Blyodans, a famous TV presenter and DSU friend and honorary ambassador represented the fund and got the prize.

As Irina Menshenina, DSU development director says: “We`re so glad and proud to get this prestigious award. Our project “Charity Sport” celebrates its 20th anniversary. We gathered a real family of companies, participants of sport events and those getting aid from our organization around it. We are grateful to our partners, friends and all those companies that were and are supporting us with their active participation in the events of the project.”

The hall where the ceremony took place was decorated in a spacecraft style with the space robot Boris as the presenter who called the names of the winners. The prizes were given in three spheres: “Companies of the year”, “People of the year”, “Events and Projects of the year.” As in previous years, the guests included top executives, leading experts in different fields, social and political figures of our country and businessmen.

The aim of the project is to attract attention to the companies and individuals, whose energy, feeling and talent managed to create leading brands, projects and companies which became Russian market leaders.

Downside Up specialists from Russia learn british experience

A group of Downside Up specialists from Russia (Moscow) together with their colleagues from Yekaterinburg have recently made study tour to the UK. Russian teachers have already made several visits to the UK, enjoyed fruitful meetings with British colleagues for sharing new ideas and experiences, for analyzing different educational programs and approaches. This time their main task was to learn more about speech and language development programs for early age, which British specialists use in their work. In the light of the changes in the educational system taking place in Russia today it is very important to analyze British experience: how different types of organisations (state, municipal, non-profit) support families and how they coexist and cooperate. And to look closely at the way the system of family support for children with special needs is implemented in the UK.

Tatiana Nechaeva, director of Family Support Center of Downside Up says: “We knew beforehand that we would see a more favourable picture of the situation than the existing one in Russia. Early Intervention System exists in the UK more than 30 years and there are no doubts that family-centered care model is the most appropriate model of early intervention for children with special needs. In England children with special needs are not isolated from society: there are a lot of different institutions of early intervention, classes with specialists at training centers and charitable organisations, special nurseries and schools, inclusive institutions and also special classes at mainstream schools are available. Moreover, a child, his or her parents and teachers get full support of specialists regarding a wide range of matters”.

Downside Up’s team has visited the classes on speech development at two non-governmental organisations. One of them is “21 and Co” which conducts its activities at the Langdon Down Centre in Normansfield, where Dr. John Langdon Down lived and worked. “21 and Co” is a charity offering help and support to children with Down syndrome and their families in South West London, Surrey. Its main activities are: speech and language development for children, social and communication skills, support for parents who have recently received a Down syndrome diagnosis for their child, support for brothers, sisters and other family members, awareness-raising activities in the local community.

Another organization - “Downright excellent” was founded by parents of children with Down syndrome about 8 years ago. This organization is also fundraising and conducts speech and language group therapy and communication and social interaction skills development for children of 0 to 9 years old. All programmes are conducted by experienced specialists. In England programmes, developed by Down Syndrome Educational Trust are extensively used. In particular, See and Learn programme, which is the basis for many speech and language therapists from the UK and is a standard for other approaches to follow, depending on a child’s needs. Unfortunately, there are no standardized programmes for children with Down syndrome in Russia.

“Downright excellent” organizes and delivers classes and meetings with families at Golden Lane Campus, which includes primary school, special educational needs school for children with motor problems and Early Intervention Center “Stay and Play”, where children can come with parents, play and also pass the time. Different children, including those with impairments of support-motor apparatus, are close to each other, move freely and play together. Specialists, volunteers and parents are helping them and for children with impairments of support-motor apparatus there is also a massive park of different technical supplies. And everybody feel comfortable! This space in full conformity with such descriptions as “a completely accessible environment”, “barrier free environment”.

“Bird in Bush Community Nursery” – is a municipal nursery and an excellent example of inclusion of young children with special needs with their typically developing peers. This wonderful nursery is a part of The London Early Years Foundation (LEYF), which began as the Westminster Health Society in 1903. The main task of this foundation is to support and to offer high quality education and healthcare services to families with children of early and pre-school age.

During this study-tour Russian specialists have visited the Early Years Center Wandsworth, which offer support to young children of 0 to 8 years who have significant or complex needs or disabilities (including Down syndrome) and their families living in Wandsworth. This Center not only delivers the classes for children but also offers information and practical support to families in finding family support services and trainings, helps to contact with other parents etc. The Early Years Center Wandsworth also offers support in processing documents for getting special support of a child at education institution.

Inclusion of young children with special needs in mainstream nurseries and schools in London is an accurately regulated process of accompanying, including choosing a tutor, visiting specialists of Early Intervention Centers and getting methodological recommendations from them, and also legal support of family if required. For example, voluntary group of parents Positive Parent Action (PPA) offers information and psychological support for families, raising children with special needs.

Not only Downside Up’s specialists from Moscow participated in this study tour, but also their colleagues from Yekaterinburg: representatives of two pilot enterprises of Downside Up in Sverdlovsk region (in Project “Dissemination of family-centered model, developed at Downside up”): Loginova Nadezhda, director of Center of psychology-pedagogical rehabilitation, Zarechniy and Drobakhina Inna, deputy director for educational work of “Rehabilitation center for children and teenagers with special needs”, Kamensk-Uralskiy. And longstanding partner of Downside Up - Tatiana Cherkasova, the chairperson of “Solnechnyie Deti” (“Sunny Children”) parents organization.

Cooking class with Tupperware Inc.

Today Tupperware Inc. held a cooking class for our children. Under the guidance of the chef, the children learned to cook three summer courses: funny sandwiches, a "dynno-strawberry" drink, and a fruit salad.
All products and utensils for the class were provided by Tupperware. The company also presented gifts to the children. The children in return gave souvenirs, made ​​by the kids at DSU. The class ended with a friendly tasting, during which everyone was treated - children, parents and teachers.

We would like to shout out a huge thank you to Tupperware Inc.! What a great idea, and a wonderful example of active charity!

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