History

The main objective of society "Viltis" is to be the main driving force, ensuring equal and full participation of people with developmental disabilities in the life of society, to represent and protect the interests of these people and their families.

Lithuanian society of persons with mental disability "Viltis" from the very first days of its foundation in November 1989 bravely stated to return people with developmental disability into society. Since then the organization has initiated progressive reforms which were difficult to implement in practice.

Creating a network of services in the community for people with developmental disabilities and their families, the society "Viltis" constantly sought and seeks a dialogue with  legislative and executive governmental institutions, with relative organizations in Lithuania and abroad, as well as with the public.

Currently the legal form of society "Viltis" is Association; it consists of 53 associate members located in different districts and towns of Lithuania. It brings together more than 11 000 members: children, youth and adults with developmental disabilities, their families, caregivers and professionals.

Acting on principles of openness and Social Partnership, Association "Viltis" became an active performer of the state program of social integration of people with disability. Ongoing projects and services provided by the organization are not just for members of society "Viltis", but also for all people of Lithuania with developmental disabilities, their families and caregivers.

Yonas Rushkus, the Rector of the University of Vytautas the Great:"(...) Society"Viltis"for me has always been an example of how an organization is born and grows basing on the needs of people and overall initiative. It is a miracle that a vulnerable part of society and often an excluded one, being aware of their situation and needs, becomes the initiator of changes. Society "Viltis" for me has never been just a society with limited possibilities and parents' circle. It has become a powerful political tool that significantly changed the map of the Lithuanian institutions of special education and social welfare institutions. The Societywas born not on the initiative of external projects, not because of the search for funds. It has appeared due to serious concern of the situation with human rights in Lithuania. Today human rights remain a key benefit of the Company "Viltis". It demonstrates his civic consciousness and maturity. This maturity has been vaccinated not from textbooks, but from a real personal, often painful experience. You are one of those for whom human rights issue is not an abstract concept but a priority, the requirement and aspirations of Lithuania (...) "

Vytautas Stancevicius, in the past the first and longtime chairman of the society "Lazdiyu Viltis": "(...) at the beginning the society" Viltis" was for me like a light, like a "lighthouse of happiness "; you can reach your goals climbing to the top of it. The main thing is climbing to the top together with like-minded people. We wanted our children would acquire the status of a person and their life windows had no gratings (...) "

Stace Giedrienė, chairman of the society "Telšiu Viltis": "(...) Today, we have no guarantee regarding fate of older people with intellectual disabilities. Here again, a new challenge for "Viltis ". And again, we are "icebreakers" who  must try not only for education of their  young people with disability. After all, children grow quickly. What's next? The parents do not live together with the sun ... Like 20 years ago, we were left alone with our problem, because living in institution is not the answer. Who and what should do if  were not "Viltis"?  When  real integration will be acceptable to all people with disability? "

Birute Shapolene, chairwoman of society "Vilniaus Viltis": "(...) First, "Viltis" was the inspiration of the soul; we were proud being a force. It was safe to feel that you were not alone, that there were people who understood you and could help in trouble. It was interesting, new, and undiscovered: the first Mass for our children, the first visit at the café, the first meeting, the board meetings. We were all united, friendly, willing to help, to sympathize, to give all the power and energy, just to make the life of our "eternal children" better. Pretty soon we realized that in order to change our life and the lives of their children, we must act on by ourselves, as no one else would do it for us. We have to fight for the rights of our children to be citizens of their country, to live a full life at any age (...)".

Marytė Pocienė, chairman of the society "Siauliu Viltis": (...) However, even after more than 20 years since foundation of society "Viltis" I'm not sure in the future of my daughter (when I won‘t be able to take care of her and look after her). I feel frustrated because of the fact that homes for independent living are just for people with mild mental disability. And those who can not even say what happens with them or who offends them, these people have to live in public institutions..."

Dana Migaliova, head of the association: "(...) I am often discouraged because of the fact that municipalities, government agencies at the highest level develop programs and build schools, even without asking service users about their real needs, how they want to live. People with disabilities do not even think that they can take part in the life of society and become not only consumers, but active members of the society. Europe and the whole world are long ago guided by the approach "Nothing about disabled persons without disabled ". Unfortunately, Lithuania does not still recognize validity of this approach. "Today our main task is UNITY. Unity at various levels: within the organization and in cooperation with other non-governmental organizations, with legislative and executive bodies. We must be together, because we have nowhere to retreat; our work is necessary for the sake of our "eternal children." Let's take care of what has been already created, let's dream and let the dreams come true (...). "