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Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education

by Epic Arts
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Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Give Children with Disabilities an Arts Education
Students working in Visual Arts Class
Students working in Visual Arts Class

We’d like to wish you a happy new year from all the staff and students at Epic Arts! 

Both our Special Education classes and Inclusive Education Course  are back after some much needed rest. 

Inclusive Arts Course

Our Inclusive Arts Course began in late October thanks to you and your generous donations. We welcomed 13 students on to the course. They finished their first term in December and all thirteen students returned back in early January.  

“I really enjoy coming to Epic Arts course it is so good to work creatively together with others  and to be accepted as me” – IAC student

“I joined Epic Arts because I saw all their videos on Facebook. I want to be the star of the next one!” – IAC student

“I’ve been blown away by how much they’ve grown and developed in my class!” – IAC Dance Teacher

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Special Education Project 

The Special Education team are back with Peace Class (6-11) and Independent Class (13 – 27)  We have exciting news in the pipeline for our Special Education Project in 2018 we will be looking for children with disabilities under the age of 6 to join our  project. This is the first time we’ve formally had a class for younger children but we have had a few success stories from children we’ve taught. 

“I’ve seen from my own son, Nak - who has Down’s Syndrome and has been at Epic Arts since he was three years old, that when we teach children from a younger age it really develops there ability to learn”  - Kagna, SEP Team Leader & Senior Teacher

"I'm happy because we get to reach more families to show them that their children can learn. I’m excited because I believe that this will lead to more children with disability being accepted into primary schools, which will give them more opportunities in life!”" - Chanthat, Social Worker

 

We can’t support these young adults and children  without your generous donations, Thank you from 

 

 

Students during Dance Class
Students during Dance Class
Students during Dance Class
Students during Dance Class
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Pektra ready for the trip to his new school
Pektra ready for the trip to his new school

This month we're celebrating some wonderful news at Epic Arts, former student Pektra has been selected for a scholorship to Lavalla School. Lavalla School is the only school providing formal education to children with physical disabilities thatis approved by the government.

We couldn't have helped or supported Pektra's without your generous donation, so we thought we'd share his epic story with you.

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"My Son Pektra joined Epic Arts Special Education Programme (SEP) in 2008 at age three. I didn't notice anything different about Pektra until I had my second child, Yanni. She was a very independent baby and a lot more physically able than Pektra despite the age gap. I knew something was different because he was three years old but he hadn't begun to walk but Yanni was running around already at only 9 months old. I was very worried for my son and I asked a lot of people about what I could do, I heard about Epic Arts from a friend and decided to meet with them." - Sina, Pektra's mum

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There is  little understanding of disability in Cambodia  and diagnostic resources are extremely limited and expensive. Pektra's family assumed he had a learning disability. Pektra joined Epic Arts' Peace Class, a class for young children with learning disabilities to learn literacy, numeracy & life skills.

Staff and teachers soon realised that Pektra learnt at a quicker pace than the other children and he was eventually diagnosed with severe Cerebral Palsy.

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"I met Pektra and at first he was very shy little boy. At snack time the teachers had to help feed him and hold him to sit up, he couldn't do much for himself, his motor skills were very poor. The longer Pektra stayed at Epic Arts the better his movement became and eventually he was able to do everything by himself. He is a very smart boy and I was always impressed with his literacy and numeracy skills" - Kagna, SEP Team Leader & Teacher.

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Pektra loves to learn so despite not having a learning disability he continued to study in the class until he was old enough for mainstream education.

Our SEP admin team got to work on advocating for him to join his local primary school. It took a while but Pektra was eventually accepted to a school near his home and just like the rest of the children in his village Pektra began primary school at 6 years old.

Although that's not where our story ends, after a child with a disability is acepted into school we continue to follow up with them to make sure they're getting the best education. Chanthat, our Social Worker, has been working with Pektra, his family & the school for the past five years.

"My job is to make sure Pektra is being fully included in school and  to ensure that he is happy. At first it was difficult because the teachers didn't understand his special needs or even the fact that he was able to learn, but eventually they saw how bright he is and that he is just like the other children. Over the years it has become easier but we were still faced with challenges, one of the biggest challenges has been that the school isn't accessible so a big issue was bathroom facilities. Pektra is twelve years old but he has to wear a nappy to school!"- Chanthat, Social Worker

Pektra completed primary school earlier this year but the closest secondary school is far from his home and because Pektra's mobility is limited it wasn't feasible for him to study there. Chanthat worked tirelessly on securing a scholarship for Pektra to join a school specifically for children with disabilities.

"I'm so happy that my son can go to Lavalla, he loves to learn English, Computer and Khmer Literacy. He is a happy child and he loves to play with other children. He is most excited that they have a swimming pool at his new school. Swimming is really good for his mobility and he loves playing in a pool" - Sina, Pektra's Mother


"I'm happy that Pektra has the opportunity to study like other children, his disability shouldn't stop him from getting an education. He is a great student and I think he has a bright future ahead of him" - Kagna, SEP Team Leader & Teacher

"I'm happy because Pektra has the chance to make his life better, he will be going to a school that's accessible and inclusive if he never joined Epic Arts I don't think he would have ever been enrolled in school" - Chanthat, Social Worker

Pektra is now enoroled and boarding at the school and we wish him well!

If you'd like to help us provide education to more children with disabilities please donate to our project. 

Pektra enjoying a day out
Pektra enjoying a day out
Pektra in grade 1
Pektra in grade 1
Pektra aged 4 at Epic Arts SEP class
Pektra aged 4 at Epic Arts SEP class
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Savun in costume ready for a performance
Savun in costume ready for a performance

"I always loved performing & making silly faces"

I started acting at school when I was 15. I loved acting, but it was something I did for fun. My wildest dream was to become a performer.

My time at school was coming to an end. One day I was reading the newspaper and wondering what to do next. That's when I saw the advert for the Inclusive Arts Course.

It looked perfect, I was so excited about the course it had all the things I enjoyed doing. I borrowed my friends phone and looked up Epic Arts.

I saw the Epic Arts Happy video, I watched it again and again, I thought all the dancers looked so cool. I wanted to do that! I asked the School Director if I could apply to join the course.

"Growing up people in my community gave me a new name ‘Broken Leg’."

When I was growing up people didn’t call me by my real name, people in my community gave me a new name ‘Broken Leg’.

I was in an accident when I was three months old and my right leg didn’t develop in the same way as my left leg.

I grew up with a leg that wasn’t strong so I knew that I had to be strong. I didn’t like the people who called me ‘Broken Leg’, they made me angry. I became determined to be smarter than them.

I knew I couldn’t do traditional physical work so I made it my mission to study hard and get good knowledge. I could prove all the mean people wrong and I would be able to support myself.

"I’d never seen someone like me in a important job."

When I saw that the Director of Epic Arts was a Cambodian women with a disability it made me feel proud!

Seeing Sokny as the head of an organisation gave me more energy to keep going, to keep trying, to keep gaining experience and growing my knowledge and maybe one day I could be a role-model to a girl with a disability.

After a week at Epic Arts I knew that I defiantly wanted to join the Inclusive Arts Course. It was all the things I loved doing and Epic Arts had many staff with disabilities who were inspiring to me.

“When I came to Epic Arts my dreams came true!”

Now I’ve graduated from the course, I’m much more confident in myself. Before I used to think that I would fall over if I tried to dance or that my leg would break!

Before I joined Epic Arts I didn’t like to work in a team, I worked by myself and that's how I liked it. Now I like working together with others, it makes me happy to be in a supportive community.

I’ve had a lot of opportunities at Epic Arts to gain different types of work experience. As well as studying I worked at the Epic Arts café on Saturdays and I also worked at the Come Back Brighter show. I liked working with the customers and learning to make cake.

“The biggest thing I learnt during the course is that if you have a disability don’t think that you can’t do things. Believe in yourself - you also have value to society!”

 

Savun Graduated the Inclusive Arts Course in April 2017 after completing the two-year Inclusive Arts Course . After Graduating Savun applied for and secured a position at Epic Arts.

Savun is now a performer at Epic Arts. She works in the Theatre company to deliver workshops, create and tour performances about issues in Cambodian society.

We are currently looking for new students to join our Inclusive Arts Course. 

Please donate if you’d like to support another young person to join the Inclusive Arts Course.

Donations big and small make a huge difference to our work and any gift helps us to continue to change lives.

Savun in dance class with fellow IAC students
Savun in dance class with fellow IAC students
Savun painting a mural she designed
Savun painting a mural she designed
Savun delivering a workshop at a local school
Savun delivering a workshop at a local school

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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

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Our Inclusive Arts Course began in April 2015 thanks to you and your generous donations. We welcomed 12 students on to the course this included Chea, who tells his story below.

I want to tell you my story. I didn’t know that when I joined Epic Arts I’d grow in confidence and that I’d discover a talent and passion for drawing!

I was 16 when I dropped out of school. This is normal in Cambodia it’s what you do when you’re old enough to work and help your family. There was a lot of construction work around my town so I decided that’s what I’d do. In total I worked on construction sites for five years before my accident.

In 2011 I started on working for a new company. It was a good job, I’d been working there for 20 days when my boss asked me to install a roof. I’d done this loads of times before so I climbed up the 4 metre-tall concrete column to begin my work.

I don’t remember much after that except my life changed forever.

I was holding the metal roof panel. I didn’t notice the electricity cables above me. Thinking about it now, it was a death trap.

Electrocuted, that’s what doctors told me when I woke up.

My friends said they saw me catapulted through the air whilst they watched in shock as I hit the ground.

The metal roof had connected to the cables above me and I was on the floor unconscious.

I woke up in the hospital to these stories and two arms that were turning black. Day after day I watched as the dark rot crept up my arms like a poison, they couldn’t be saved. I had to have surgery to have them removed.

After the amputation doctors told me I was lucky. I still had the use of my elbow joints, but I was hopeless. All I could think of was terrible things like “How can I live like this? It would be better to die”

Devastated all I could do was cry. I became a different person, I used to be so full-of-life. It wasn’t long before I spiraled into a deep depression, drinking everyday and hardly leaving my parents house for three years.

Terrified and angry I felt alone and useless. I couldn’t see a future for myself that’s why during those three years I stayed inside and drank rice wine.

An uncle of mine wanted to help me. He visited every week and gave me a small bit of money to feed his ducks. I began to drag myself out of the depression.

Soon after that a Social Worker from Epic Arts met my mother and told her about the Inclusive Arts Course. “How can a person who uses a wheelchair dance? It’s impossible, I can’t even use a spoon!” was my first thought when I heard about Epic Arts. I wanted to see for myself.

I went along to the open day where I met Epic Arts staff. I was so surprised, they had disabilities but they were having fun and they were happy. That’s when I knew I wanted to join Epic Arts

After two years of studying at Epic Arts I am myself again! I wake up happy everyday something I never thought I’d feel again. I think that because of Epic Arts I have a future and I can do anything I want. I used to cover my arms with a towel and get angry when people stared now I show them my arms in a funny way and I tell them my story. I used to pity people with disabilities, even myself, but now I think that if you have a disability it doesn’t matter! We can all do anything we set our minds to.

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Whilst editing Chea's story I've been able to hear him as he laughs and sings from across the building. He's a completely different man to the one I met almost two years ago. Back to being the life and soul of the party, the cheeky chappy, the confident young man he was before his accident.

Thanks to your donations Chea and 11 other students will graduate from our course in April.

Remember if you want more updates you can follow our latest new by following and liking us on your favourite social media network here Facebook,InstagramTwitter

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Epic Arts

Location: London - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @EpicArtsNews
Project Leader:
Anthony Evans
London, United Kingdom

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