Thanks to the efforts of FAR’s Ayo! fundraising platform and generous support from the Sunday School of Holy Martyrs Church of New York, 15 new heating units were recently purchased and installed at a Yerevan-based center for autistic children.
Tatevik Stepanyan started the local NGO Step Forward five years ago after observing that other local rehabilitation centers were stretched well beyond their capacities. As the mother of an autistic son, Tatevik believes strongly in access to daily assistance for this population.
“It’s a must for a child with autism to undergo specific rehabilitation services, otherwise every single day, every single year will cost him/her irreversible consequences,” she said.
Step Forward, which operates through private donations, has always had an issue with its heating system, which it wasn’t able to ameliorate until connecting with Ayo!. After collaborating on a fundraiser, Holy Martyrs and Ayo! were able to help by purchasing the new heating units.
“We used to have to close in winter because it was too cold. If not for the heating units, we would have had to close this winter as well. But it’s very warm now. A very big thank you to Ayo! and Holy Martyr’s for the timely support,” said Tatevik.
Step Forward currently serves 60 children with autism. Besides offering speech, music and mental health therapies, the center has created the first inclusive gym for both individual and group training. The center has also become an inclusive platform where autistic children do various exercises with peers without disabilities, many of whom become their mentors.