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Art For Inclusion

On January 2009 HDP started implementation of the project “Art for Inclusion” funded by Jonas Foundation. The goal of this activity was to promote greater integration, tolerance, acceptance and social inclusion for children/youth with disabilities through art, education and promotion of their rights.Gegharkunik and Armavir regions were included in the project benefiting additional 173 people.

Children with disabilities hanging on a tree trunk at one of the historic sites. The project activities were addressed to promote greater tolerance, acceptance and cooperation among children with and without disabilities and to promote better interaction and common ground between them and their family members.

During the project HDP held meetings with respective organizations, partners and stakeholders of new regions including local organizations who were engaged in disability issues. During these meetings HDP obtained new partners who provided information about disabled children to be involved in the project. Project staff investigated all achievements, reached by several organizations dealing with disabled children and selected two partner organizations “Nur” ( Armavir region) and Astghatcolk (Gegharkunik region) in the new target areas for cooperation.

HDP organized several trips for about 80 children and their family members to different historical monuments and places, where children were provided with information about the place, were happily communicating with each other and developing new friendships.

Children with disabilities giving a puppet show Such tours helped the youth with disabilities to acquire certain communication skills, they learned how to behave in public and be more confident. For example, many of them participated in our Summer Camp without parents communicating with others and demonstrating proper social norms of behaviors. For most of the participants this was a completely new platform to demonstrate freely their abilities and skills and feel like full members of the society. The total number of children in the camp was over 250 and 40 of them were children with special needs.

Besides, HDP started another important event the goal of which was again to integrate children with special needs in the society. The concept of the event was participation of children with and without disabilities in the puppet theatre performance. This was a new opportunity for them to demonstrate and develop their mental and physical abilities.

In addition, to raise their capacity and knowledge on puppet theatre in general, HDP organized visits to the National Puppet Theatre in Yerevan for 95 disabled children. After the performance the participants shared their impressions with us: they learned several puppet techniques and skills from those visits and were very happy about the opportunity. Such art events enabled those children to acquire knowledge on puppet theatre in one hand, and in the other hand to integrate into the society through art. According to the statistics those performances enable people with special needs to develop their mental, physical and oral abilities.

Children with disabilities singing a song with appropiate sign gesticulates On the International Day for disabled people, HDP organized a puppet theatre performance in one of private schools in Yerevan with participation of mentally retarded children. During the second part, deaf and dumb children performed small novels through gesticulates. Later on the school students, roughly 60 of them sang a special song with sign language for the guest performers, providing a certain message: we are together and we are with you. Everybody was in tears: the guest children looked happy, excited and touched. The participants also watched the film "I am a hero". Many students, teachers and parents approached us to express their excitement and gratitude. The School principal was so motivated that he wished for us to organize such events in his other school.

As a part of its advocacy effort, HDP organized the airing of three documentary films, supported by Jonas Foundation, reaching hundreds of people in Armenia and Europe. The film “I am a hero” and “If you have wings” were aired not only in Yerevan (capital city) but also in the regions of Gegharkunik, Armavir and Lori expanding the number of people to become more aware of these children issues. The third film entitled “Only love” was aired in Yerevan. The film is about the skills, talents and abilities of disabled children that regretfully, very often are neglected by the society. The film, we believe, is sending an important message – love. These children need love and care regardless anything. The heroes of the film are three children with special needs: Narek is 10 years old with physical disabilities; Levon is 11 years old and has speech disorder; while Ashot, 7, is suffering from mental and physical problems.

Narek and his new walker After airing the films, HDP received many phone calls from people who expressed their compassion for children and wanted to help the kids and their families depicted in the film. Marieta from Yerevan, for example, was very emotional and excited: she watched the film and right after that called HDP office and wanted to donate an American walker to Narek. We were happy for the opportunity and arranged a meeting for Marieta to present her gift to Narek.

We were also happily surprised to have received a call from Netherlands. Arthur, who watched our film, expressed his willingness and readiness to bring another walker for Narek on his trip to Armenia in summer. On August 2009 Arthur and his family visited Narek’s home and presented their gift to Narek. Narek and his family were very happy to see the walker: it is a modern European product with all its equipments that will ease Narek’s life.

 

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