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The Bundesverband Kleinwüchsige Menschen und ihre Familien e.V. BKMF (German association of short-statured people and their families) has been representing the interests of people with restricted growth in Germany since 1988. This gives us the following tasks: to inform, to enlighten, to cooperate with medical professionals, psychologists, institutions and authorities.
Some 100 000 Germans suffer from restricted growth, that is they either are, or will be as adults, between 80cm (2ft 7in) und 150cm (4ft 11in) tall. Compared with this the average height in Germany for men is 175cm (5ft 9in) and for women 167cm (5ft 5¾in). Growth restriction can have many different causes. There are many more than 100 varieties of restricted growth. In our publications we describe many different forms and their effects. We are working towards the psychosocial strengthening of people with restricted growth, towards their integration into society and towards the reduction of remaining prejudices. Only very few forms of restricted growth react positively to a treatment with growth hormones; some people with restricted growth have operations as teenagers or adults in order to be lengthened. Both solutions are not advisable without proper professional advice.
Height, in our society today, is still an important criterion for the judgement of a person. Success in work today is still made dependant on the height of a person. Without help, door handles, light switches, stairs, cash machines, counters, window handles, sinks, pedestrian traffic lights, telephone boxes, public transport etc. can often not be reached or used.
Concrete help is therefore necessary in all social areas to strengthen affected persons and their families internally and externally: people suffering from restricted growth want to be and can be equal partners in society: society simply needs to accept this. The social net of state, private and institutional support has loopholes, which can only be closed by people with restricted growth and their families themselves, with commitment and authority. Our aim is to withdraw from "overdone care" to individual self-determination and freedom.
This can only be achieved through self-help and supported self-help.
Self-help and supported self-help is our aim: in the form of one-to-one discussions of parents with parents, group seminars, seminars organized by our local organizations and national fora, led by scientists discussing different forms of restricted growth, in running events for children of small stature and in working with young people. Regular publications, such as our magazine "betrifft kleinwuchs" (concerning restricted growth), information booklets for parents of children with restricted growth, exhibitions, documentations of our national and international fora on restricted growth, the brochure: "Behandlung mit Wachstumshormon" (treatment with growth hormones), the book "Achondroplasie - Leben mit der kleinen Größe" (living with achondroplasia) and the art and medical catalogue "Kleine Menschen - Große Kunst" (small people - great art) support this task.
Since 1990 this work has been supported successfully on a full-time basis by the office of the "Bundesverband Kleinwüchsige Menschen und ihre Familien e. V." in Bremen. Two women of short stature work in a model work place for people with short stature at the office of the association. They add their experience to the job by being affected themselves.
Competent and qualified consultations can be offered by support of a scientific advisory committee, comprising medical, psychological and educational specialists.
Through the EGF (European Growth Foundation) and the BAGH (German Federal Association Help for the Disabled) we are also, on a European level, actively involved in the discussion about integration of people of small stature. Our membership with the German Red Cross facilitates the opportunity to work together with other self-help groups and organizations.
We hope to have been able to give you a glimpse of our work and our aims.
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Bundesverband Kleinwüchsige Menschen und ihre Familien e. V.
Account for donations: Sparkasse Bremen
Bank sort code: 290 501 01
account number : 1 015 981