We are very excited to announce that we are one of the winners of the Disability and Inclusion Challenge for organizations doing unique work with children around the world who have disabilities. We found out yesterday after a few months of different rounds of application, where the IDEO folks moved from almost 500 ideas, down to 82 shortlisted ones, to the final decision that we are one of six winning organizations!

For the next 18 months Special Hope Network will receive seed funding from the UK Department for International Development and design support from IDEO.org, starting with an intensive design bootcamp that two of our staff will attend. Our idea is on the IDEO website, but we’ll also explain it here for you.

We know that in Zambia, many children with intellectual disability die by the age of 5- the official statistic from the World Health Organization is actually 4 out of 5 children die by the age of 5. Over the last five years we have proved our selves to be very effective in decreasing this gruesome statistic. This past year we had an under- five mortality rate of only 6%.

Because of this, we have been looking for ways to find younger children to add to our program, so parents can learn all the skills they need in order to grow their child to his potential. There are many skills we have found parents need to learn from us that if taught at 6 months-2 years, allow parents to be transformed for the rest of their child’s life. Community is built between mothers and caregivers. A win is scored for all involved.

Our idea uses the very effective Under 5 program in Zambia, where mothers and children go to the clinic on a regular basis for their vaccinations and well-child check-ups. We’d like to leverage the success of this program where all parents at regular intervals to ‘flag’ those children whose development doesn’t meet developmental milestones. Through this project we will be finding a simple, free way for clinical officers to notify us when they have a child they have concerns about. We will be working with government facilities that are already working with our target population.

We will keep you updated on the next 18 months of this really cool new support (Open:IDEO) that uses a very different way of moving forward, called human-centered design (you can find this described on the IDEO.org website). In the end, we hope we will be seen as a resource to the communities we serve and have the opportunity to make an even greater impact in the lives of Zambian children with intellectual disabilities. We are honored and excited to have been chosen!