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Epoch of equal opportunities on Yamal

Epoch of equal opportunities on Yamal

21.12.2011 — Analysis

Russia's gas storehouse - the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District - is willing not only to enjoy steady economic growth, but also to establish decent living standards for all the residents of the region. At the initiative of Governor Dmitry Kobylkin, the year of 2011 was declared as the Year of Equal Opportunities - Support to the Disabled. As the RusBusinessNews reporter has found it out, the Yamal authorities decided not to limit their efforts aimed at creating truly equal opportunities to one year.

Within this year, quite a few projects have been implemented to serve the needs of more than 15 thousand disabled people living on Yamal. The first step was undertaken in solving the issue of affordability of social facilities. Seven municipalities received hospitals, pharmacies, stores, schools and residential buildings arranged in terraced rows with ramps.

Towns and cities welcomed cars equipped with the automatic system of level boarding. Wheelchair accessible vehicles have become popular with the Social Taxi service in the Salekhard, Tazovsky and Purovsky Regions. In 2012, all the handicapped people will receive wheelchairs. More than 60 million rubles have been earmarked in the regional budget for purchasing of 229 wheelchairs.

"The government authorities of the district have done their best to make the life of people limited by their health easier and more comfortable. We will not settle on that, Governor Dmitry Kobylkin stated. - Our top-priority objectives still include establishment of a well-developed social security system, involvement in standard human activities, provision of opportunities to exercise their rights, professional and creative potential for our residents with unlimited abilities".

The Yamal government has launched a program of distance learning for 1,703 disabled children. The first center was opened in Noyabrsk; its example will soon be followed by Novy Urengoy and the Nadym Region. These municipalities have the largest percentage of the Yamal population. In the near future, there will be a district center for distance learning to educate children living in sparsely populated settlements.

While disabled kids are expecting new centers, they have been given iPad tablets at the initiative of Dmitry Kobylkin, the district governor, and Alexei Miller, chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee. "They deserve the most advanced computer equipment. It is so important for them to develop, study and communicate with their peers", Dmitry Kobylkin pointed out.

Gazprom is ready and willing to render further assistance to disabled children. For example, the gas holding company intends to provide assistance to Yamine - the charitable fund for children-residents of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District. Alexei Miller confirmed that the company is going to develop this cooperation. Dmitry Frolov, the director of the Fund, explained that costly surgical operations will be paid through this financial support. Children having infantile cerebral paralysis will receive medical treatment in China and Ukraine; kids suffering from other severe diseases must be sent to clinics in Germany and Israel. The funds are also allocated for purchasing of equipment, including insulin pumps (the price of each pump is about 200 thousand rubles) that are vital for children having diabetes.

Sports activities are essential for social integration of disabled people. Sports clubs of Salekhard and Muravlenko launched departments of adapted physical education. Within this year, Yamal residents have brought home 14 medals of different nominations from the Paralympic Games held in the Tyumen Region and Russia's championships in table tennis, powerlifting, and swimming; the competitions were held among athletes having musculoskeletal system diseases. The Yamal Paraspartakiada that took place in December has crowned the athletic events of the year.

Jobs are still the most burning problem for disabled people. The Yamal authorities have developed a comprehensive program aimed at their full-time and part-time employment. Employment opportunities are backed up by training programs in different professional fields, including such professions as a cook, plumber, accountant, programmer, and Human Resources officer.

According to Nadezhda Mikitukha, the chairperson of the Management Board at the Nadezhda Regional Association of Disabled People, thanks to the above programs, in 2011, 1,600 disabled people were able to get jobs - an 8-time increase as compared to the previous year. Elena Zlenko, the deputy chairperson of the Yamal Legislative Assembly, stated that the near-future plans include revision of the quota-based employment system for handicapped people. In addition, the plans include allocation of funds for equipment of working places for such employees.

The problem of employment of disabled residents living in Yamal is aggravated by challenging climatic conditions typical of the Far North. Besides, the conventional jobs are available at oil and gas producing enterprises, while disabled people are not able to do physically difficult work. One of the solutions is to organize jobs for disabled people at community organizations. In 2011, more than 1.3 million rubles was allocated to create such jobs within the project known as the Affordable Work.

Nadezhda Mikitukha is sure that the problem of employment of disabled people cannot be solved merely through increasing the number of jobs. Most of the physically challenged people got used to living on social allowance and are not interested in work. Therefore, social adaptation is intertwined with psychological issues. In future, the employment issue for the disabled will be addressed starting from their early age. Dmitry Frolov, the director of the Yamine Fund, says that disabled children are going to be taught to be responsible and interested in work that is adequate to their abilities. Professionals of Yamine, together with public organizations for disabled people, intend to provide assistance to physically challenged people in training them in present-day computer-related professions - design, programming, web-site operations.

Dmitry Frolov thinks that development of creative abilities can solve a number of issues. One of the projects is planned to be implemented in cooperation with the Dinaoda Moscow Center - the first Russian and European Activity Center for disabled children. Over a dozen of different studios - spiritual culture and icon painting, computer-aided design, choreography, photo-journalism are aimed to help a physically challenged child to discover his or her abilities, to acquire skills in various activities, to find his or her place in today's society. Each month several young Yamal residents will study at Dinaoda.

Experts think that the year of 2011 has triggered a lot of ideas and initiatives in assistance to people with limited health opportunities, and these ideas will be implemented in the next few years. The Yamal government has developed the Strategy for Social Integration of the Disabled till 2020. The initiative of Governor Dmitry Kobylkin to have the Year of Equal Opportunities can become a pivotal point starting an epoch of creating adequate living conditions for disabled people.

Anastasia Troshkina

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