A photo exhibition about schoolchildren with disabilities opens in Minsk
The “Just Children at School” exhibition shows success stories and describes the lives of six children with disabilities from different cities of Belarus
The “Just Children at School” mobile open-air exhibition has opened on Freedom Square in Minsk. The exhibition describes success stories of six schoolchildren with disabilities from different cities of Belarus, says about their classmates, parents and teachers. The opening of the photo exhibition has been timed to coincide with the beginning of the academic year.
Every resident and visitor of the city can see the stories of children who study in ordinary schools, make friends with their peers, dream of a future profession, and feel that they are understood and accepted.
The exhibition project has been organized under the Just Children at School information campaign aimed to change attitudes towards the right of children with disabilities to quality education and social inclusion; the project has been implemented by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Belarus with the financial support from the Government of the Russian Federation.
“Equal treatment of all children, including children with disabilities, is an important step towards an inclusive society, where everyone feels valued, enjoys rights and opportunities on an equal basis with everybody else,” said Tanya Radochay, UNICEF Representative in Belarus.
Each character of the photo exhibition has her/his own abilities. Semyon from Baranovichi plays the guitar, Masha from Minsk draws pictures, Angelina from Mogilev sings songs in sign language, Kristina from Vitebsk reads a lot, Platon from Gomel is good with gadgets, and Egor from Grodno enjoys playing checkers. Some of the children come to school by themselves; some children need an escort, a walker or a wheelchair. However, this is not an obstacle for children: all of them study together with their peers successfully, they are interested to go to school, and they take part in concerts and competitions.
The photo exhibition focuses not only on schoolchildren with disabilities. Inclusion engages all stakeholders of the educational process. Teachers and other school staff, classmates and parents are equal characters of the project, because thanks to their support, children with disabilities study successfully, and schools become friendly to every child.
Masha studies at School 24 in Minsk. The girl has Down Syndrome. An easel, brushes and paints are her favorite way to communicate with the world.
Masha's mother Irina admits that the photo project has been a bright event in the life of their whole family: “We gladly agreed to become the characters of the photo project. This is another opportunity for our family to tell others that regardless of any diagnoses, our children can go to school on an equal basis with everyone else, get new knowledge, make friends with classmates, and plan the future. School inclusion benefits everyone if right approaches are exercised. And such projects are necessary for our society. This is another step towards accepting children who “do not fit into the norm”, but they are also great friends, talented boys and girls, and diligent students.”
The photo exhibition about the schooldays of children with disabilities — “Just Children at School” — will be open on Freedom Square until September 23, and then it will move to Vitebsk. The exposition will have visited all regional centers of the country by November.