Barbara Czeizel

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2014


This profile was prepared when Barbara Czeizel was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2014.
The New Idea
In 1991, Barbara introduced the former communist Europe’s first opportunity for families of children aged birth to six years with autism, delayed or impaired development and premature babies at risk to access therapeutic and developmental services at one place. Her center quickly became an example for countries like Czech Republic or Slovakia to follow when building up their national early childhood intervention systems as it clearly showcased how one can make the theoretical foundations of the field work on a practical level. Barbara changed the paradigm of care by developing new types of relationships with hospitals, doctors, parents, experts, teachers and all kinds of supporters and convinced them how important it is to intervene as early as possible to let children thrive and progress when their brain development is the most active.

The first milestone in her work was to integrate early childhood intervention provision into the state welfare systems under the aegis of public education law in 1993. However, throughout the years, she realized it is no longer enough to wait for policy makers to set direction or allow professionals to have full autocratic control over the child’s development. She empowered a movement of parents to support and meet the needs of their children much more actively, thus pushing governments, professional communities and the entire society towards better reflecting and enabling the participation of its diverse citizenry in keeping with their rights. Moreover, Barbara also built a movement of caregivers to collaborate with each other in a transdisciplinary way without losing their special disciplinary contribution and considering the final outcomes for children and families who do need holistic support.

She established a model for a center catering to all therapeutic requirements of a single child under one roof, providing extremely professional, high quality services for families and building on interdisciplinary team work addressing every type of special need, delayed development and risk factor. Barbara strongly capitalized on the wide interest of others in replicating her work or taking the learnings of her work to their own work. Thus, she took strategic efforts to spread her idea through mobilizing other changemakers in Europe - especially in countries in transition - and seeding a host of local variants around the original model in Ukraine, Serbia and Romania.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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