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Reaching Out - A Community Outreach Program

Bringing urgently needed, otherwise unobtainable therapy services to children living with disabilities in isolated,rural Ugandan communities

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What problem does your idea solve?

A staggering 9,349 children (2-17 years of age) in Kabarole District in western Uganda have a disability but we are the only organisation providing a community outreach program. Currently however we are limited in our capacity, meaning we are only offering services for 7% of children, leaving 93% of children living with a disability (or 8,722 children!) in the region with little or no support whatsoever. This is simply unacceptable and as such we propose a dramatic up-scaling of this project!

Explain your idea

Our pilot community outreach programme offers high quality, specialised and affordable therapy and rehabilitation assessment, treatment, education and support to children with disabilities, their families and carers, to enable them to lead more independent lives. The isolated nature of many rural communities means that such care would otherwise be out of reach due to the long distances that would have to be travelled, and the costs incurred,to reach Fort Portal town, the closest large city. By taking our rehabilitation services into these communities we are not only offering essential, otherwise unobtainable, therapy services but we also help to dispel the stigma surrounding disability typically found throughout Uganda, that disability is a curse or the devils work. This community approach also helps to break down the barriers of misunderstanding, discrimination and isolation experienced by the families within their communities. Furthermore, our holistic approach to disability means that we are able to transform the lives of children, not only in terms of their physical abilities, but also by providing training to parents and caregivers which allows for greater integration into normal societal life. This integration also includes education, and we provide training and support to both students and teachers in local government and private primary schools within the district to promote inclusive education.

Who benefits?

We expect the number of children living with a disability who we assess and treat aged between 0-17 years to increase from just over 600 up to more than 2,300. The impact this will have across the region will transform not only the lives of the individuals being treated but also the communities within which they live, cannot be emphasized enough and we hope that if the up-scaling with your support is as successful as we envision it that we can further increase our capacity in the years to come

How is your idea unique?

Kyaninga Child Development Centre is the only organisation in the whole of western Uganda to provide therapy services to the doorsteps of those most in need. Our team of experts includes physiotherapists, occupational therapists, specialist medical staff and speech therapists, which means that we can tackle disability from all sides and provide a truly holistic approach. By bringing our services out into the community and making them freely available we enable family units to remain together and not go through the extremely traumatising and heart-breaking separation that is attached with the typical institutionalisation of children with disabilities. Additionally, our outreach program draws fellow community members and neighbours into the circle of support which promotes a more stable environment for the individual child by creating a balanced and diverse system of assistance consisting of professional support from KCDC and emotional support through community inclusion.

Tell us more about you

Based in Fort Portal, in the Kabarole District of western Uganda, KCDC was established to provide much needed high quality, specialised and affordable assessment, treatment, education and support to children with disabilities, and their families and carers, to enable them to lead more independent lives. We provide occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech language therapy assessment and rehabilitation to children aged 0-17, in order to help them to meet their developmental goals.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

Through our pilot outreach program we have been made acutely aware of the high number of children and families who are surviving without any support for their disability. Even with the expansion of this program we still feel it would be beneficial to the community if we could link in with other healthcare providers but are yet to find suitable partners in this field. We also had a large number of requests during our pilot scheme to provide mobility aids and other adaptive equipment which can dramatically improve a childs function and independence, but is incredibly difficult to source in Uganda and so again we are hoping to partner with a donation-based charity who can export us second-hand mobility equipment at an affordable price

Where will your idea be implemented?

  • Uganda

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

Expertise in Sector

  • I've worked in a sector related to my idea for more than a year.

Organizational Status

  • We are a registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

Idea Maturity

  • Early Growth/Roll-out/Scaling: I have completed a pilot and am ready or in the process of expanding.

How has your idea changed based on feedback?

We learnt that families felt that increased frequency of visits to the health centres would be greater benefit to their children. As a team, we agree, but logistically, we would need a 2nd mobile unit which would entail an additional vehicle and trained staff. An immediate change is to provide more comprehensive home exercise programmes and to empower parents to meet and support each other between visits, which also has the benefit of reducing the isolation felt by parents. We also identified that during the outreach, other community members would stop and watch through windows and doors, and would even go back home to bring their or a neighbour’s child to be seen. This is a great opportunity to raise disability awareness by providing brief talks to those interested and will now be implemented during all outreach programmes and we are considering running 1 day courses for selected, enthusiastic community members who could help identify other children to benefit from our services.

Who will implement this idea?

KCDC’s 3 co-founders are dedicated to making this idea a reality: 1 works full time on the day to day running of the project and project development, 1 works part time and is focused on project development, networking and fundraising and the 3rd is a member of the board. In addition, 6 full time rehabilitation therapists implement the programme in the field, work with parents, healthcare workers, community leaders and other local organisations. All staff are located within Fort Portal, Uganda

Using a human-centered design approach, you may uncover insights that lead to small or foundational changes to your organization’s existing strategy or processes in order to unlock the potential of your idea. How would your organization go about making such changes?

All team members are included in the decision-making process. Additionally, we consider the communities we work in as an extension of our team and encourage their suggestions and feedback . Changes to project implementation are often suggested by team members working in the field, which are then brought to management level for consideration and idea formulation, before they are taken to the board for further development and possible implementation and practice adoption. Team members are then brought back in to discuss implementation. All team members are also involved in creating and delivering our 3-year strategic plan, with quarterly meetings for review and goal setting. This helps make sure everyone feels valued and involved in the decision-making process

What is it that most attracted you to Amplify instead of a more traditional funding model?

The long-term support and development Amplify will give to successful organisations will be invaluable as we grow and develop. In addition, the human-centred design matches our organisational approach and values. We know we do not have all the answers yet and that there are more changes to be made, and we hope that we can do that together with Amplify. It’s this dynamic, fluid approach from Amplify which allows for ideas to evolve and adapt and we feel this is exactly the model we wish to follow

What challenges do your end-users face? (1) What is the biggest challenge that your end-users face on a day-to-day, individual level? (2) What is the biggest systems-level challenge that affects your end-users?

The biggest daily challenge faced is the lack of available and accessible health services to enable each disabled child to live a healthy and functionally independent life, because of lack of funding, poor understanding of their needs and community prejudice, stigma and isolation. The biggest systems level challenge is that as one of the most marginalised groups worldwide, children with disabilities and their families experience a complete lack of inclusion or consideration in all levels of society, in terms of access to education, healthcare, leisure activities, access to public buildings, transport and many other daily activities that the rest of society takes for granted

Tell us about your vision for this project: (1) share one sentence about the impact you would like to see from this project in five years and (2) what is the biggest question you need to answer to get there?

Impact: By 2022, we aim to achieve greater inclusion for 5,000 CWDs within their communities–education, health care and employment. Question: How can we transform the mindset of leaders and politicians to modify budget allocations to reflect and support the potential of children and other PWDs and facilitate them to play an equal role in their community, receive appropriate medical care and rehab, have access to inclusive education and be supported through appropriate employment opportunities

How long have you and your colleagues been working on this idea together?

  • Between 1 and 2 years

How many of your team’s paid, full-time staff are currently based in the location where the beneficiaries of your proposed idea live?

  • Between 5-10 paid, full-time staff

Is your organization registered in the country you intend to implement your idea in?

  • We are registered in all countries where we plan to implement.

My organization's operational budget for 2016 was:

  • Between $100,000 and $500,000 USD

If your team/idea/organization has a website, please share the URL below.


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