Sir Roger travelled to Kazakhstan in his first visit to the Central Asian country to help raise awareness and support for vulnerable children, particularly those with disabilities.
Accompanied by his wife, Lady Kristina, Sir Roger’sfive-day visit includes an event organized by Special Olympics and UNICEF to highlight the importance of sports and healthy living in developing children’s cognitive skills and providing a sense of social inclusion.
UNICEF and Special Olympics work in partnership throughout the world to champion the rights of children with disabilities and to encourage national action to ratify and implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted in December 2006. The Convention has increased the status and visibility of disability as a human rights issue.
Sir Roger and Lady Kristina will also see a school near Almaty where children are taught how to better protect themselves in the event of disaster such as flooding, fires or earthquakes. In addition, they will visit a home that provides care for abandoned children, including those with disabilities, along with a Youth Friendly Services Centre, which promotes healthy life styles for adolescents and young people by offering free medical, social, psychological and legal assistance.
Throughout their trip, Sir Roger and Lady Kristina met with high-level officials, members of the business community and civil society to stress the importance of working together to help ensure that children with disabilities have access to proper health facilities, education, supportive care and protection against abuse and neglect.
At the end of their stay, the famous couple attended a special Charity Ball on 20 November in support of UNICEF’s work on behalf of Kazakhstan’s more than 150,000 children with disabilities. These boys and girls are among some of the country’s most vulnerable and marginalized children. Only about one-third of the children with disabilities have access to educational and developmental programmes, and thousands continue to live isolated lives in state-run institutions.