Raising Awareness on Autism through art!
April is Autism Awareness Month. Save the Children in Kosova/o jointly with our partner, Handikos, held an awareness raising event in the municipality of Gjakova, supported by the staff at the Community Based Rehabilitation Center (CBRC) in Gjakova. The activity was carried out through the Healing and Education through Arts (HEART) approach.
HEART is an arts-based approach which aims to provide psychosocial support to children affected by serious or chronic stress. It uses the arts to help children process and communicate feelings related to their experiences. HEART also uses arts-based creative learning methods to make education more interactive and fun in math, vocabulary, literacy, history, and other subject areas.
The event was held at the “Yll Morina” primary school, where around 50 children, including children with disabilities participated in this event. Initially, there was an information session on autism provided by the CBRC staff, and continued with the children taking part in a workshop where they were divided in groups of five and given an assignment to create their dream neighborhood, as per the HEART approach. The children had the opportunity to see each other’s work and discuss among themselves what their own neighborhood lacked. It was interesting to see that most of them had placed a CBR center on their “dream neighborhoods” entailing the importance of having a center for children with disabilities.
One of the works created by the students. Three objects in the back are the school, supermarket and Handikos CBR Centre.
During the activity, I had the chance to talk to Rinesa Avdija, a 14 year old student attending 8th grade in “Yll Morina” primary school. She was very excited in using the HEART approach, and was glad to be part of this event, as it was here where she first learned and gained knowledge about autism through an interactive learning process. When asked about children with disabilities and autism specifically, she said: “we are an inclusive school, and currently, I know of only one child with Down syndrome at the school. She is the star of the school because she was a participant in Dancing with the Stars show…..This was a great event, as through activities like this we are reminded that we are all equal peers and that we should not judge a person based on their disability.
Rinesa Avdija, next to her “dream neighborhood.”
Activities of this nature are necessary to not only raise awareness, but also to offer the opportunity to children so they can socialize and interact with each other and thus promote inclusiveness.
Save the Children in Kosova/o through our Education program aims to improve access to and quality of education by promoting inclusive and participatory approaches to the education of children from marginalized groups, who are deprived of quality learning opportunities and have the poorest learning outcomes. , with a particular focus on pre-primary and primary education, which also contributes to higher quality education for all children.
About the Project
Community Based Services for Children with Disabilities Project is Save the Children’s regional initiative simultaneously implemented in Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (North-West Balkans), Georgia and Kosovo. The project aims to empower children with disabilities to develop their potentials, practice independence and enjoy inclusion. It also strengthens families and mobilizes communities to ensure children with disabilities are provided with quality services they need.