Votes Received: 647
From volunteer to friend: the development of inclusive education in the town of Bila Tserkva. The town of Bila Tserkva, in a working partnership with Cultural Dialogue, has organized masterclasses, quests and creative educational opportunities for children with special education needs at local public school #19.
Social issues surrounding tolerance and inclusion in Ukrainian society are certainly of the moment and ensuring access to quality education is a defined global objective for sustainable development. The From Volunteer to Friend project in the town of Bila Tserkva, supported by the British Council’s Active Citizens programme, was concerned with addressing the challenge of providing inclusive education opportunity.
“The problem of integrating people with disabilities into modern society will be around for a long time. We are grateful to those who have supported our work — establishing links between student volunteers and children with special educational needs. Thanks to the Active Citizens program this objective has been met resulting in new friendships and engaging activities,” according to project leader Margarita Babich.
The project enjoyed success because of the cooperation we got from the School #19 administrators, the local teachers’ college and volunteers from the Bila Tserkva branch of the Ukrainian Red Cross — all who were very active, legitimately invested in the project. The school saw the importance of socialization and helped run the workshops; the college saw that the classes we offered were an opportunity for their students to get some practical teaching experience in special needs; and every volunteer was encouraged from the encounters they had there and that they would carry forward.
Organizers and volunteers conducted more than 60 workshops, quests, and our DrumPlay music lessons that were developed specifically for the kids matching their ages and abilities, and they also accompanied groups of the children to the movies.
Ms. Babich continues: “There’s so much joy in these kids. They really look forward to working with our volunteers, talking with them, working on speech, concepts, imagination and motor skills, and leaving each other with such strong impressions. The volunteers give more than just their time, they help instil a positive attitude, self-respect and confidence in these kids.”
It’s worth noting that some volunteers who participated in the project have decided to work in special needs education and speech therapy and so we’ve organized training sessions for them on special needs children.
“We decided to keep going because neither the students nor the children wanted it to end; the project continues to exist and develop. We have offered some volunteers the chance to conduct workshops curated by the project organizer, and we intend to continue working this way. We’re also committed to carefully prepare middle and high school students for vocational training, giving them a chance to apply themselves in a range of techniques and materials (working with flower-making foam, cold porcelain, embroidery, scrapbooking, paper filigree, etc.) and we’re sharing this approach to developing inclusive education in Bila Tserkva.”
THE PROJECT’S SECRETS OF SUCCESS
1. The problem needs to address a relevant social challenge.
2. Every party working on the project should benefit from that and should acknowledge that benefit.
3. Be creative. Host original events. Be attentive to the specifics of your target audience.