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A model of learning and play for all children

Mali dom, a model program for many years, now is becoming a Regional Resource Centre.

Young adults play adaptive sport. Adults cheer them on

Mali dom, a model program for many years, now is becoming a Regional Resource Centre.

Young adults in Mali dom, located in Zagreb, Croatia, are in the middle of a game of adaptive sports they call “Polo”. Mihael readily demonstrates to Katherine and Kirsten how to play the sport and is proud to count alongside his teacher. Students are pleased when the visitors join the game and eventually find out it wasn’t as easy as it seemed. 

Perkins began its support through consultations and mentoring to Mali dom in late 1990s. Ever since then the group of driven teachers and specialists have not stopped mastering their best practices and almost immediately sharing it with others. 

A strong connection to Perkins is nurtured to this day, through delivering Perkins International Academy training and the Educational Leadership Program alumni that are active in the alumni network. 

During the years, Mali dom became the go to program in the region for education of children with complex needs. It offers specialised training and mentoring to teachers in the region. A significant number of those trainings are done within partnerships enabled and provided by Perkins. As a result of this collaboration, now Mali dom is becoming a Regional Resource Center.

A group of women sit around a big table with fruit and refreshments on it. A woman in a black shirt is speaking, others are looking at her.
Darija Udovicic Mahmuljin hosts the visit

On June 6th, Katherine Holland, Executive Director of Perkins School for the Blind, together with longtime supporter Lipoid Stiftung (Foundation) representative Kirsten Meesmann, and Ivana Cerovic, coordinator of the Perkins-supported Outreach and Early Intervention Program in Serbia, visited Mali dom as part of Perkins’ broader strategy to scale models that work; reaching many more children.

“Perkins support helps build capacity of teachers and parents so children’s needs can be addressed early,” explained Darija Udovicic Mahmuljin, Perkins Regional Director for Europe/Eurasia. “The impact can be seen immediately in the youngest children, and the ripple effect grows with the child.”

Matching a child’s needs with the right interventions in early childhood has a transformative effect- for the child and their family. For young adults like Mihael, surprise polo victories are just one way of challenging assumptions. Every day at Mali dom Perkins-trained leaders unlock the potential of children who are too often underestimated, overlooked, and forgotten. Perkins training and mentoring is building this same capacity in programs across Croatia, Serbia, Armenia, and Germany. By blending online trainings with onsite practicums at Mali dom, Perkins goes beyond guidelines to the hands-on work of helping children communicate, make choices, and belong.

“Every child can learn, and Perkins support builds a model of what is possible for even the most complex children,” noted Holland. “We know what to do – now it’s time to do a lot more.”

A girl lies on floor and tries to catch a red shining balloon on a string
A girl plays with a balloon

Learn more about our work in Croatia and Serbia.

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