Supporting People with Special Needs Committee
Noa Harris PCV-Tinjedad
Where and when does your activity/project take place? My activity takes place in my site, Tinjedad. I hold a class of seven mother’s and their children, four boys and three girls. The children all have a range of different mental disabilities. They are ages 4-9. My class takes place in the dar taqafa (cultural center) every Wednesday from 9:30-10:30.
How long has your activity been going on? I started the weekly class at the end of November.
Was the project in collaboration with another association or organization? No, I work solely with the women and their children.
How many participants? Seven children, 7 mothers, and myself.
What is the goal of your activity? The goal is that since there is no official educational facility for children with disabilities, particularly mental disabilities, the children were often kept inside at home all of the time. I wanted to offer a safe space for both the mother’s and the children. My class became both a support group for the mother’s and place to exchange information like one mother was unaware that she could receive aid from the government for her child. Additionally, it became a place for mothers to have a positive experience with their kids and learn to play with them and a place for the kids to have respect in a safe and structured environment. Since kids with mental disabilities need a very clear routine and structure so they know what to expect every class, we do the same structure every class. We start with some small exercises where we all sit in a circle and the children do exercises and activities with their moms face to face. Then we do an art activity or learn math. We have been learning numbers. When we learned the number one, the kids and mothers were asked to pick up one of many things (sticks, stones, flowers) from outside. When we learned the number two I gave them a picture of two elephants and we drew pictures of them. The most important thing is to allow the children to use all of their motor skills—audio, visual, and sensation learning. Another activity I did was I brought different pieces of wood. We used the pieces to build a tower of three, exemplifying the number three. We then built a big tower and we glued different pieces of wood together. After math we play games. Once we did ring around the rosy, once I brought recycled bottles and we filled it up with sand and we did bowling, another time we did head shoulders knees and toes, and we always finish by doing a cheer all together. It is very important to keep a routine of the setting and repeat things week after week.
When it all came about and I proposed the idea to the mudira (director) of the dar taqafa she said I could open the facility for them on Sunday’s. The mudira made it seem as though she didn’t want the activity to be in conjunction with any other activity with children without disabilities. She wanted my class to be hidden from the community. However, this did not work with my Peace Corps schedule because Monday is our weekend so we made a compromise. We agreed to do the class early in the morning on Wednesday’s. This way, we would not have any scheduling problems, but the children and their mothers could still be given an equal opportunity to use the space.