Natalia Vodianova, founder of the Naked Heart Foundation and Dima Bilan, a famous Russian singer and a good friend of the Foundation, have just participated in the VIP opening ceremony for H&M’s flagship store on Tverskaya Street in Moscow. A generous 50% of the profits generated throughout the opening weekend (27 – 28 May) will be transferred to the Naked Heart Foundation.
Natalia Vodianova: “I am thrilled that such a well-known and socially responsible brand like H&M has decided to support the development of our inclusive education projects. For four years now we have been training teachers from special schools to work with children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). However, inclusion in the Russian education system cannot be achieved if kids with special needs are only being accepted to special schools. A crucial step in achieving inclusion is the creation of resource classes in mainstream schools. We are already prepared to begin this work in various regions of Russia and I am grateful to H&M for supporting this important initiative.”
This new collaboration is also supported by Eurovision-winning singer, actor, and friend of the Foundation Dima Bilan, who performed at the opening party. Among others, he sang his hit “Don’t be silent”, the song that two years ago marked the beginning of a large-scale collaborative project with the Naked Heart Foundation that aimed to build an inclusive society and inspire confidence in parents of children with special needs.
Dima Bilan: “It is a great honour to be part of the important work that the Naked Heart Foundation is doing.”
The funds will be used to support projects aimed at developing inclusive education. Since 2013, the Foundation has been implementing a large-scale training programme for teachers working with children with ASD in special schools in Nizhny Novgorod, Tver and St Petersburg.
Children with autism will not be fully included in the education system if they are only accepted to special schools. Therefore, an essential step towards truly inclusive education is the creation of resource classes in mainstream schools.
Extensive international research over the past 40 years has consistently demonstrated the positive effects of inclusion both for children with special needs and their typically developing peers. The Naked Heart Foundation is planning to make a number of resource classes available in several mainstream schools in Nizhny Novgorod from September 2018.
During the 2017-2018 academic year, specialists from a number of carefully selected mainstream schools will be trained by the Naked Heart experts to use evidence-based methods of working with kids with special needs.
The Naked Heart experts and their renowned international colleagues will teach schoolteachers and school heads how to: (1) use evidence-based behavioural methods; (2) maintain positive behaviour in a class; (3) understand and meet students’ communication needs; and (4) adapt classrooms and the curriculum.
The schools participating in the project entitled “Introduction of modern technologies for teaching children with autism spectrum disorders in Nizhny Novgorod’s special schools” will become training centres for the teachers of resource classes.
For the last four years, the Naked Heart Foundation has been creating productive models of preschool and school education for children with ASD and supporting the parents of these children through the Every Child Deserves a Family programme. The programme is based on internationally proven methods.
The work is being carried out with the support of the Nizhny Novgorod Department of Education. Successful cooperation experience has already significantly increased the accessibility and quality of education for children with special needs in the city.
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