„Together with YOU!“ - Activities for Inclusion in Armenia
Project executing organization: Caritas.
Since July 2019, Caritas Armenia started implementing a project “My Right. Inclusive Education in Armenia and Kosovo” in the Shirak Region of Armenia. Project is funded by Austrian Development Cooperation and Caritas of the Diocese of Innsbruck (Caritas der Diözese Innsbruck). The overall goal of the project is to provide quality and inclusive education to children with disabilities. As a part of the project inclusive youth club called “My Right” (note: won the Wheelday Community Award 2020 – here) was established. This youth club implemented and continues to implement many activities since its establishment. In total 1309 pupils participated in different youth club activities since 2019 (e.g., peer-to-peer trainings, easy-to-read-materials, film discussion). Besides these activities, the members of the youth club came up with some other new and creative initiatives.
- Activity 1: Podcasting on inclusion. With the awarded 300 EUR within Wheelday 2020 the youth club bought podcasting equipment (high quality audio recorder with the necessary accessories) for making podcasts on inclusion. A training on podcasting was organized by the project staff for interested youth club members. Podcasts are not very common in Armenia. Some local news channels and media companies have started producing podcasts, but podcasts are still very new to the Armenian population, though they are being produced worldwide and are widely consumed by the international podcast listeners. The idea was new for the youth club members, too and they were very enthusiastic about learning and experimenting it. So, it was decided to come up with a podcast on inclusive education. Another aim of forming a podcasting club was to contribute to the Armenian podcast production and disseminate different themes regarding inclusion. Currently, we lack inclusion related podcasts in the Armenian language, so the youth club aims to kick it soon.
- Activity 2: The Art for Inclusion. Motivated with the American artist David Zinn, who first used the trick of creating works of art from the cracks of the street, youth club members together with the project staff initiated a very interesting event called “The Art for Inclusion”. Youth club members with painting skills started making cracks on the ground and walls into interesting and beautiful paintings. Paintings were done in the territories of kindergartens. In order to make the event more participatory other youth club members and kindergarten children were also participating by drawing pictures with watercolors, making sculptures with colorful playdough, The initiative is based on the idea of developing children's ability to see beauty in imperfections, as well as instilling in them a love and interest in art. The idea is to see opportunities and advantages in everything around us, to use them to spread the idea of inclusion. The event was attended by children living with disabilities and children living without disabilities, volunteers of "My Right" project and members of the "Youth Club" of the same program.
- Activity 3: Mapping of accessible restaurants and hotels in Gyumri. Youth club members initiated another important activity-mapping of accessible buildings (entertainment centers, shops, cafes, restaurants, hotels, etc.) in Gyumri which are barrier-free for people with disabilities. Buildings that are accessible are important because it allows for more equal, and hopefully equitable, access for people with various abilities. The youth club members were walking by and observing the different buildings which they considered to be important for the PWD in their daily routine and making a description of places which would inform to what extent these building/institutions are accessible for people with disabilities. Further, youth club members plan to create a visible map or guide for accessible places in Gyumri.
- Activity 4: Debates on the topic of Inclusion. Youth club members also created debate clubs in their schools. All debate club members participated in trainings on debating and had their mentors. Topic of debate was inclusive education, and teams of different target schools were debating with each other. Debates are aimed to raise awareness about inclusive education, to prove the importance of inclusion and to learn how to talk with evidences. Furthermore, debate club members are getting familiar with laws on inclusive education and rights of people with disabilities, and gain public speaking skills. More trainings and debate tournaments are planned with target school debate teams in the future.
Submittet by: Petra Flieger (Caritas of the Diocese of Innsbruck).