Fellow Since 1995
Piña Palmera A.C.
This profile was prepared when Anna Johansson was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1995.
The New Idea
Anna Johansson integrates disabled children and young people into their communities, drawing them out of isolation and teaching them to regain their dignity and play an active role in society. One of the distinctive features of her approach is her emphasis on the community as a whole as an important actor in the rehabilitation process. In order for the disabled children and youth with whom she works to become fully integrated into society, the community must change its attitude towards disabilities. Through her center, Anna facilitates such a change while providing disabled young people and their families with tools that assist their participation in community life. Anna's model successfully applies the concept of mainstreaming disabled children to a rural context with a high level of poverty. She has pioneered the prevention of disabilities through oral rehydration and she relies on technical resources that provide powerful impact at low cost–braces, sign language and the radio. She has recycled and transformed a former home for abandoned children into a space where she trains parents, teachers, local authorities and the greater community to engender and support the disabled youngsters' integration into society.