On November 4, Ambassador Sheila Gwaltney visited the Parents’ Association of Disabled Children (ARDI) in Bishkek to meet with young people with disabilities who are learning English on the U.S. Embassy-financed Access Microscholarship Program. The students welcomed the Ambassador with English-language songs, poems, games, and dancing. Ambassador Gwaltney was impressed with the students’ excellent English language skills and deeply appreciated the warm and enthusiastic welcome. Many of the students, who began studying English only a year ago, could converse effortlessly with the Ambassador.
ARDI does vitally important work to support the rights and inclusion of people living with disabilities. ARDI partners with the U.S. Department of State’s English Access Microscholarship Program to expand and strengthen educational options for students with disabilities. The Access Program provides opportunities for talented secondary students from disadvantaged backgrounds across Kyrgyzstan to receive free English language instruction. Participants in the Access Program develop language and leadership skills to broaden their future educational and employment prospects. Since 2007, 750 students have completed this program. Alumni of the Access Program excel at all of Kyrgyzstan’s top universities, serve as youth leaders among their communities, and succeed in a wide range of prestigious internships and exchange programs.
The Ambassador and the U.S. Embassy are privileged to be able to help young people reach their potential, regardless of circumstance. This program is one of many the U.S. Government supports to promote equal opportunities for persons living with disabilities.