Rehab center for handicapped opens .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} ISTANBUL - Turkey’s largest and most advanced rehabilitation center for the mentally handicapped has opened in Maltepe, Istanbul’s historic transportation district on the Anatolian side of the city.

The Bahadir Erdoğdu mentally handicapped rehabilitation center, named after a handicapped resident of Maltepe, is equipped to a very high standard with the latest technology, to provide education and support for mentally handicapped people. In the 4,200-meter center, there are classrooms, business centers, workshops, playgrounds, special therapy rooms, dormitories, a theater and a park. The center, built by the Maltepe municipality, is the first in Turkey to provide such a wide range of facilities designed specifically for the mentally handicapped.

The principal focus of the center is education and widening recreational opportunities for handicapped people. The center is currently designing a daily curriculum based on business and daily life skills. For those who cannot keep up with group classes, one-on-one private sessions will be available.

Fikri Kose, the head of the Maltepe municipality, said there are a large number of mentally handicapped citizens in Maltepe and seeing so many people struggle in their daily lives inspired the municipality to build the center. "I really hope the success of this center will be an example to other municipalities and encourage them to embark on similar projects so that Istanbul as a whole can provide more support for the handicapped," Fikri Kose said, speaking at a press conference at the center Friday.

A more fulfilling life
Member of Parliament Lokman Ayva called on families to bring mentally handicapped members to the new center, instead of leaving them at home with caregivers or other family members. "Many handicapped citizens are kept at home which results in them sitting around aimlessly and having an empty life. The Maltepe Center will give them opportunities to learn skills and to develop, which will result in them leading a more fulfilling life," said Ayva. The center opened its doors to the public last week and is currently developing its curriculum in preparation for classes that will start in the near future.