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May 2008 "Art for integration of Youth with special needs"

Kids weaving

On May 1, 2007 HDP started implementation of “Art for Integration of Youth with Special Needs” project, funded by Jonas Foundation. Integration and involvement of youth with disabilities is a challenge in Armenia especially in the regions: isolated in their homes or special schools, they are not heard from or seen, their talents are not fully appreciated by the larger society, they are rarely involved in art or other cultural events. It has to be mentioned that there is a large number of talented youth among disabled who however are either hidden or only limited number of people know their talents. These obstacles do not allow them to feel as full members of the society.

HDP’s overall approach within this activity is to empower the youth and their families by providing them with opportunities that will enable them to participate and engage themselves in meaningful activities in continuous education, and participation in various activities. HDP through other projects in the last couple of years came to realize that while notable progress has been made in the area of disabled right protection, many issues remain unmet and untackled and therefore need further resources and efforts.

Kids with art work

So one of the activities of this effort was to help disabled children engage in different art clubs, take them to different history and art museums with the otherwise healthy peers so have some access to those sites, receive first hand information and exposure to art and history, raise their knowledge on these areas. 200 children were reached in four regions of Armenia through this small scale activity: many were given art supplies and about 45-50 of them participated in country-wide photo and art exhibition.

girl smiling through hole in a tree

The other important component of this activity was raising the awareness of the disabled and their families, so they are more informed, know their rights and have knowledge and ability to exercise those rights. On the same note HDP tried to raise the awareness of general society so it is more open and tolerant towards disabled, more accepting and willing to integrate them. As part of this component, 500 copies of awareness booklet called “Let’s protect our rights” was published and distributed to project beneficiaries, different organizations working with disabled children. This booklet also summarizes international and Western best practices on integration and inclusion through art activities along with Question and Answer on most frequently asked questions on exercising education rights. In addition, a 20 minute documentary film was produced and aired reflecting the dreams, aspirations and capacities of disabled children.

Currently, HDP is implementing the second phase of this activity (until February 2009), “Hope and Education for Youth with Special Needs”, which will further the integration of children through education and art activities.




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