history

“Bridge of Hope” (BoH) is an NGO that defends the rights of children and youth with disabilities.

Our mission is to protect their rights and dignity and to support their social inclusion in the Republic of Armenia. This inclusion is promoted by means of advocating for access to basic education, community-based services and equal opportunities for independent living.

“Bridge of Hope” was established in 1996. Now we operate in Yerevan and 4 regional centers.

In our society, people with disabilities face a number of hardships, starting from the very early age. Their parents and other family members face different problems as well, and some devote their whole lives to the defense of the children’s rights and dignity.

In July of 1996, at a meeting of different specialists and parents of children with disabilities, an idea was suggested: to start an organization that seeks to defend the rights of children with disabilities.

Thus, on December 2, 1996, “Bridge of Hope” was founded.

Our education center was then located in small premises, where we were working with 45 children. That unsightly and tiny center, however, became the warmest corner for children and their parents.

Now we have expanded our activities, and many of the children who have been visiting us during these 20 years have grown up to play their role in the development of our society.

20 Years towards Inclusion

The history of ʺBridge of Hopeʺ is very eventful, and each of these 20 years was marked with significant achievements which are now sustainable values:

1996

December 2, 1996: ʺBridge of Hopeʺ was established by a group of devoted parents and friends. ʺChildren who study together learn to live togetherʺ – with this motto, ʺBridge of Hopeʺ has spread the belief that children with disabilities don’t need others’ pity, but they need equal opportunities and conditions to live in their families, getting quality education and to plan their futures by themselves.

1997

Our theater troupe was established. Many generations of ʺBridge of Hope’sʺ little actors have been spreading the belief that every child can succeed – they just need us to trust them and to believe in them.

1998

ʺBridge of Hopeʺ helped to form Parents’ mutual support groups where they could help each other to defend the rights of their children. Today, many schools have their support groups which help parents succeed in their struggle for social inclusion.

1999

The ʺSunflowerʺ magazine was established. Sunflower is a big flower with many seeds – big and small, full and empty. And they are grouped together to form this beautiful big flower head. And despite their differences, they are all together as one beautiful flower that always strives towards the sun. This is the message of our young authors. Many journalists in Armenia have made their first steps towards professional success here at ʺSunflowerʺ.

2000

Together with the Ministry of Education and Science, ʺBridge of Hopeʺ made the first attempt of practicing inclusive education at one school. This was an unprecedented step towards uniting children from ʺspecialʺ and ʺcommonʺ schools in the same institutions. This attempt (along with all the mistakes from which we learned a lot) became a turning point and later resulted in a whole new state policy of switching to inclusive education.

2001-2003-2004-2005

Child development centers opened in the towns of Dilijan, Ijevan, Berd and Noyemberyan. The centers provide various services to 650 children with disabilities and special education needs.

2002

Inclusive education: education for all.

Together with the Ministry of Education and Science the successful experience of making a school inclusive was implemented in 5 more schools in Yerevan.

2006

ʺBridge of Hopeʺ is 10 years old.

The best gift for our 10th anniversary was adopting inclusive education as state policy. Armenia became the first CIS country to make inclusive education a priority and is a regional leader by now.

ʺBridge of Hopeʺ will go down in history as the initiator of inclusive education in the Republic of Armenia. This is why Susanna Tadevosyan, the founder and the head of the organization, was granted a gold medal of the Ministry of Education and Science.

2007

Family and child support community centers were founded in 10 villages in Tavush region.

The villages of Berkaber, Gandzakar, Azatamut, Aygehovit, Vevkar, Achajur, Khashtarak, Getahovit, Tsaghkavan, Vazashen, Sari Gyugh, Norashen, and Chinari had their community centers, funded by the community budget.

2008

This is one of the most memorable years of our history when we started our project with the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs which allowed 4 centers provide all the necessary services to vulnerable children and their families in Tavush region. More than a thousand children and families have benefited from our centers. We are proud to be a reason of the fact that Tavush has the lowest number of special and boarding institutions in Armenia.

2009

Our first attempt in vocational education.

ʺEducation, Employment, Dignified Lifeʺ: this was the message of the year. Bridge of Hope NGO invested vocational educational professions such as “Gardening” and “Carpet Weaving” based on the needs and strengths of people with learning difficulties. The Project was implemented and piloted in Yerevan State Humanitarian College and in Republican Special School N2.

Bridge of Hope NGO pursues the inclusion of people with disabilities into the Sociality by promoting their education in schools as well as in vocational educational centers by defending their rights of employment and dignified life.

2010

Building an inclusive country through inclusive education

Together with the Ministry of Education and Science and Tavush municipality, inclusive education was invested in all 77 basic schools in Tavush. This model became exemplary and lead to a number of legal amendments.

2011

ʺBridge of Hopeʺ was the first to start discussions about new approaches to recognition of a disability according to World Health Organization. This new approach was experiment was made among 28000 people in Tavush. The analysis of the study then led to amendments in the field of disabilities according to the principles and approaches of the World Health Organization.

2012

4 new subjects concerning the inclusive education were added to the curriculum in all the faculties of Armenian State Pedagogical University.

Now the future pedagogues learn how to help every child to study as much as they can and be able to build their independent lives in the future.

2013

With the great support and direct involvement of ʺBridge of Hopeʺ, 4 NGOs were created: ʺWe Canʺ and ʺthe Sound of Silenceʺ in Yerevan, ʺWhite Falconʺ in the town of Spitak and ʺEqual Opportunities and Equal Rightsʺ in the town of Vanadzor. These organizations are the most active ones in our field.

Today Bridge of Hope is recognized not only in Armenia, but also abroad. Bridge of Hope was rewarded with the UNESCO/Emir Jaber al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah International Prize in 2014 for promoting inclusive education and won the Zero Project international award in 2016 for being an international exemplary project for inclusive education.

Education, employment, dignified life

“Due to my experience in a disability program, I was aware of the issues faced by children with disabilities and their parents. During discussions with them, the idea of creating an organization to defend their substantive human rights and freedoms arose. That is how the organization was established, and we called it “Bridge of Hope”.

We started our work with small steps, learning from each other, making mistakes and learning from them, and we became more confident of our capabilities and sure of the mission we had chosen. The symbolic name of “Bridge of Hope” turned into a genuine bridge of hope for thousands of children and their families.

Many of them stood up for their rights and now keep fighting for those rights and a dignified life, not only for themselves but also for their peers.

“Bridge of Hope” broke through numerous barriers in people’s minds and convictions, and opened the doors to high-quality inclusive education, employment and a dignified life.

“Bridge of Hope” became the vanguard for the spread of inclusion ideas and inclusive education. Today, inclusive education is already state policy in our country. “Bridge of Hope” carries on its path towards a universal system of inclusive education and an inclusive society in the Republic of Armenia, led by hundreds of children and youth with disabilities, their parents, as well as its numerous partners.

Today Bridge of Hope is recognized not only in Armenia, but also abroad. Bridge of Hope was rewarded with the UNESCO/Emir Jaber al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah International Prize in 2014 for promoting inclusive education and won the Zero Project international award in 2016 for being an international exemplary project for inclusive education.

However, the greatest prize for us is the trust and faith that the children, youth, and society have in us, which we have gained due to the devotion and absolute faith we have in our mission. This is both encouraging and obligating. We are grateful to all those who believe and trust in us and are building bridges towards an inclusive society.  Together towards Education, employment and a dignified life for all.”

Susanna Tadevosyan
Founder and President of NGO “Bridge of Hope”