Karen Gishyan ‘14
Project Title: Inclusive Summer Camp
Project Location: Stepanavan, Armenia
$2645 in 2015 FLEX Alumni Grant Program Funding
On August 21-23, Karen Gishyan ‘14 together with eight U.S. Government program alumni organized a summer camp in a northern region of Armenia, which brought together youth with disabilities and their peers to learn about leadership, community service, and healthy lifestyle. The camp, intrinsically focused on inclusive education, allowed youth ranging in levels of physical ability to participate in sports and educational events together. Twenty-one young people attended the inclusive summer camp and the alumni team partnered with the Agate Center for Women with Special Needs.
American Councils Country Director in Armenia Karen Smith visited the camp and gave participants advice on how to develop English language skills and apply to the FLEX program. The alumni trainers also presented volunteer opportunities and shared personal and professional success stories of FLEX alumni with disabilities. ‘Many stereotypes and misconceptions were overcome during the camp. It gave all of the students a chance to interact with each other, plan joint projects, and encouraged them to become active members of their community,’ says Karen.
The camp made a remarkable impact on the participants and the community. A local television company Tsayg produced a ten-minute report about the camp, which was broadcasted on local television channels three times and motivated a number of students, including students with disabilities, to apply to the FLEX program. Of the 21 participants, eight applied for FLEX and three more are currently in the semi-final stage. Moreover, two camp participants were so moved by the experience that they also held interviews about the camp and its impact with the Public Television of Shirak.
Having completed the camp, organizers are planning follow on educational opportunities for the camp participants including English language clubs and volunteer activities in partnership with local NGOs and an American Corner in Gyumri.