The Empowering Parents Program started in 2007. The program objectives for parents are:
- Provide information, skills, and resources– “I was told that my child has autism.... For me it was a strange word and I did not know what the meaning was. For me it was a verdict. Then I thought that I was one of the unhappiest mothers in the world. What characterises autism? What should I as a mother do? These questions had no answers for me for a long time.” Children with disabilities require special care and approaches. A training course for parents was launched to educate parents about disabilities and teach them how to stimulate development of their children. The parents acquire the practical skills to help and support of their children.
- Provide Emotional Support - parents of children with disabilities feel a wide range of emotions about their childrens disabilities, these can include some of the more negative emotions of shock, shame depression, frustration, anger and fear. This group is extremely important for providing emotional support to parents.
One of the parents said: “Empowering Parents Program is very important for all of us. During our meetings I can talk about my feelings and I know that others are empathetic. Before I joined First Step Georgias program, I thought that I was always alone; now I have supporters and friends. Ive learnt how to respect myself. Before I could not imagine that I could do anything except taking care of my child. Now I realize that I can be independent, realize my potential, acquire profession and get a job”.
- Increase parents social activism –With the assistance of First Step Georgia, the “Association of Parents of Children with Disabilities” was established.
Empowering Parents Program has helped over 250 families.