Fellow Since 1995
This profile was prepared when Bernadett Eigner was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1995.
The New Idea
Bernadett Eigner is providing, through "community-based playrooms," a play therapy community service especially for children with special needs and from underprivileged backgrounds. The playroom serves both as a free childhood development service for all, and as a locus for training kindergarten and preschool teachers in the playroom methods. By opening the playroom to the entire community and serving a previously unmet need for children's books, stimulating toys and progressive parenting methods, Bernadett is both promoting early childhood development more generally and "mainstreaming" children with special needs into "normal" family and community life. For parents and siblings of children with special needs, Bernadett's playroom offers the first sustained support system that they have known that focuses specifically on the challenges of being a family with special needs members.