Global Reach: Grantee Partners

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Alternative Life Association (AYDER)


As in many countries, girls are at a significant disadvantage in Turkey and especially so if they have a disability. While access to education is technically increasing for girls (less so for girls with disabilities, unfortunately), the opportunities for girls to develop outside of school and be supported through adolescence are very limited. If they live at home, they face significant restrictions by their families in terms of being able to attend activities outside of the house; nor are there many ‘safe spaces’ for girls in terms of programs and activities. If they live in girls dorms, as many do (and most from quite socially and economically disadvantaged locations), they are under strict watch by the dorm staff, who are also under great pressure from parents, to make sure girls do not ‘get into trouble’, as the issue of honor is indeed a serious one for girls, especially in the adolescence age group.

If a girl has a disability, she faces double discrimination; as compared to boys with disabilities, girls face even greater exclusion from social life and not encouraged at all. There is very limited data on the cross section of girls and disability with regards to key statistics such as education, health, and employment- which also leads to limited awareness about the issue.


Founded in 2004, Alternative Life Association (AYDER) aims to increase social inclusion for young people with disabilities. AYDER pursues this purpose by offering activities under two leading programs: Alternative Camp (based in Izmir, offering mainly water sports activities such as diving) and Dreams Academy (focusing on the arts, i.e. culinary arts, music, acting, percussion, DJ, photography). In fact, it was Alternative Camp (based in Izmir), formed in 1998, that inspired the creation of AYDER. Since 1998, more than 3000 young people with disabilities have attended the camp and 1500 volunteers have served in this program.

A few years after AYDER was formed, the Dreams Academy, based in Atasehir Istanbul, was established (2008) and operates artistic programs and activities in a center with three full floors of activity rooms. Since it has been founded nearly 4000 young people have attended its programs and nearly 800 volunteers have been actively engaged.

Current Grant:

EMpower’s second grant to AYDER (commonly known as ‘Dreams Academy’), funds a second “Girls Without Barriers,” program to empower adolescent girls of different abilities, increasing their physical and mental capabilities through sports, outdoor and team building trainings. The goal is to encourage girls’ development as motivated, confident, courageous and energetic individuals, to help ensure

You can support our work with Alternative Life Association (AYDER) and our other grantee partners.

Our Underwriters pay for all of our administrative and fundraising costs, so 100% of your donation goes directly to empowering at-risk youth.