May 4, 2017

Savun leads her first workshop

Thou helps Savun practice
Thou helps Savun practice

Happy Khmer New Year! It’s the start of a new school year here in Cambodia. We're still on our mission to bring art to children in local schools and to change children's perceptions about people with disabilities.

Savun & Chea have recently graduated from our Inclusive Education Programme. Over the past two years they've been exploring performing & visual arts with Epic Arts. They've joined the new mix of facilitators who're leading the Arts in Schools project this term.

Savun tells us how she was feeling about leading her first Arts in Schools workshop.

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 “I’m excited about the workshop, it’s my first time working with these children. I would never have thought that would have the chance to teach children at school!

 I’ve learnt a lot in the past two years at Epic Arts not just about the arts but about being a leader as well.

Today I led the introduction and warm up with the students. I was a little nervous about it. When we got to the school I asked to rehearse with my team leader Thou.

The workshop was fantastic! It was our first session so we played games and led some movement activities to get to know the new students.

My favourite thing about the workshop was seeing how much fun the students were having!

 I was very surprised by the children's attitudes. They remembered and respected the facilitators from last year.

Usually when I meet children they stare and ask questions about my disability. I was glad they didn't stare, it's clear the children today think differently

 I’m really looking forward to coming back and working with the children next week! "

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 Thanks to your support and donations we've been able to continue to lead Arts classes in Kampot schools.

Savun picked up on an exciting observation - that bringing in two new facilitators, who both have physical disability, has highlighted how the students react to disability. This wouldn't have been possible without having consistent workshops led by our team.

Thank you for being part of helping us change perceptions about disability

Savun leads the workshop
Savun leads the workshop
Savun and students
Savun and students
Students warm up
Students warm up
Teuly leads a warm up game
Teuly leads a warm up game
Students have fun at Arts in Schools project
Students have fun at Arts in Schools project
Apr 25, 2017

"Mum, Can I Go to School?"

Socheata, mum & sister on the first day of school
Socheata, mum & sister on the first day of school

One of our aims of our Special Education Programme is to get children with disabilities into school. We have satellite classes in mainstream schools around Kampot for children with disabilities. Social Worker, Chanthat, speaks about opening our latest class.

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When I first visited the school, I was shown to a dusty, dark storage room. Turning it into a functioning classroom it needed a lot of work. Armed with dusters and new furniture the Teachers and I transformed the classroom.

We recently opened our new class for children with disabilities in the school. The nine students enrolling have never been to school before. The children range in age from 6 to 13 and they have a variety of disabilities.

On the first day of term 8 year old Socheata* is first to arrive at class. She has a huge smile on her face. I ask if she’s excited and her mother replies enthusiastically,

“Oh yes! she always asks me, ‘Mum, Mum, Mum Can I go to school?!' She’s been asking for two or three years! I've never enrolled her at school because I was worried about leaving her alone. She has Cerebral Palsy and I have to help her go to the bathroom. I was worried Teachers at the school wouldn't understand her. I know the Epic Arts Teachers have experience with children of all types of ability ”

To get students like Socheata* enrolled at school is a long process. I can sometimes be talking with a family for up to a year!

First I meet with parents at their homes and chat with them about their children. I dispel the myths they believe a common one is ' My child can't learn because of their disability'

I see a lot of parents keeping their child inside and not allowing them to play outside with other children. Some of them won't even consider enrolling their child in school.

Of course the parents are usually being protective because they are worried. The question, “How will students and teachers treat my children?” comes up a lot.

I have to explain to them that, not letting their child go to school will have huge impact on their child's future. Talking with parents about our current students who are doing well helps give them an idea of what is possible for their child.

We currently have 00 children with disabilities enrolled in our classes around Kampot. 

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We believe all children deserve an education! To help us continue sending children to school donate to our Inclusive Education Programme.

* name has been changed for privacy

Feb 7, 2017

Your Donation is Changing Perceptions. Read Saan's Story to See How!

One of students during art class
One of students during art class

Thanks to your generous donations our Arts in Schools project has been running for a year now and has reached 157 children in Kampot. We’ve got two schools on board and have delivered 42 workshops over the past 12 months.

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Saan is an arts leader for the Arts in Schools community project, here he tells his story from unable to access school to becoming an arts facilitator and leading workshops.  

Both my brother and I were born deaf (he’s five years older than me). We didn’t go to school because we couldn’t hear the teacher. When we were children had no idea that sign language even existed!

I thought that I’d never be able to communicate my thoughts clearly to another person, I couldn’t speak, read or write.

The first time I went to school was when I was 14.

I started at Deaf Development Programme (DDP) where I learnt basic math, literacy and sign language. After finishing at DDP I joined Epic Arts as a student on the Inclusive Arts Course. For two years I learnt about being an arts leader as well as how to use the arts to express myself.

Now I teach art to children in schools something I never imagined I could do!

The first time we arrive at a new school children see us signing and that some of the team are in wheelchairs. They always stare and they always ask “What’s wrong with you?!”

I don’t blame them though; they don’t know what disability is. They’ve never seen people with disability before so that’s why they ask.

I like to teach because I want to share my knowledge about art. I want children to have access to arts workshops. I want to show them different ways they can channel their emotions.

It's important that we do the Art in Schools project because we are showing the children that even though we have disabilities we CAN do things. 

I like encouraging the children not to discriminate against people with disabilities.

I tell them that “Every Person Counts”

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Please help us deliver more workshops this year to children in local primary schools by donating today or setting up a recurring donation.

 
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