Valožyn District by right became the launch pad for the development of tourism without barriers. The project Valožyn without Barriers: Increasing Local Capacities for Provision of Social and Recreational Services for People with Disabilities was launched in the district in 2015.
A lot has changed since then: 5 agritourism farms (Koni-Poni, Za Mastočkam Estate, Bee World, Hanka Estate and Naliboki Cornflowers) have become more accessible; the Bielakorac inclusive eco-path has opened in the Naliboki Forest, it is accessible for wheelchair-bound persons, mothers with children, hearing and visually impaired persons, and senior citizens.
279 Valožyn District facilities received recommendations on barrier-free environment improvements, and 19 of them has been renovated.
The monitoring findings have underpinned the Valožyn District Action Plan for Improving the Infrastructure and the Quality of Social/Recreational Services for Persons with Disabilities until the Year 2028. Also, the first-in-Belarus tourist centre and a 20-bed hostel will open in near future in Valožyn; the hostel will employ a disabled person. A conference hall will open for holding educational, social and cultural events.
In addition, a number of estates can offer their unique services now: Koni-Poni offers an opportunity to take a ride in a horse-pulled cart that has been specially outfitted for persons with disabilities; in Za Mastočkam Estate, everyone interested may take water tours on the first-in-the-country wheelchair-accessible floating platform.
More details about the facilities accessibility and possible routes for disabled persons are available at volozhin4all.by website (so far, running in test mode).
Approximately 6,000, or about 20% of all Valožyn District residents, have been involved in the project media space one way or another. In order to adopt the best European experience in environment accessibility and social integration, 2 study trips to Germany and the Netherlands, a number of seminars and training courses on the development of creative tourist products and services, and on social entrepreneurship, have been organized.
The project was made popular owing to the One Day in Life information campaign on the challenges and achievements of persons with disabilities in Valožyn District,
In the course of the project, 2 brochures (in Russian) have come out: one is about the Accessible Valožyn tourist route and the project success story, the other is a collection of recommendations for local authorities in Belarus on accessible environment development and adoption of innovative methods of social and recreational services provision based on the experience of Valožyn District.
A number of blind-friendly boards with information on available tourist routes have been installed; road signs and arrows to available tourist routes have also been made in Valožyn, Rakaŭ and Ivianiec.
The Valožyn without Barriers project has been co-implemented by the Valožyn District Executive Committee, Interakcia Local Foundation for the Development of International Dialogue and Cooperation, Belarusian Association of Disabled Persons and the Rest-in-the-Village Belarusian Nongovernmental Organisation.