Actors Work To Change Perceptions About Down Syndrome
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 14, 2003
MOSCOW, RUSSIA--The Russian government is not counting, but some groups estimate that around 2,000 babies are born with Down syndrome each year in the country. At least 80 percent are taken immediately to state institutions.
Organizations such as Downside Up are working to change the attitudes that Russians have about people with Down syndrome. The charity is educating members of the community -- especially doctors -- to dispel myths about the disability. Many people in Russia still believe, for instance, that children are born with Down syndrome as a punishment for their parents' poor behavior, such as alcoholism.
"I think it's our mentality, I mean the soviet mentality, to get rid of the problem," Downside Up's Irina Menshenina told the BBC News. "To pretend there is no need, that there are no people with disabilities that need special care and special attention."
To prove that the public perceptions of them are not true, a group of actors with Down syndrome have taken to the stage in a production of "The Tale of Capt. Kopeikin."
Inclusion Daily Express included a Washington Post story about that stage production in April 2000.
"Challenging drama in Russia" (BBC News)
"In Russia, 'Unteachable' Take Center Stage" (Washington Post -- April 19, 2000)