We are happy to showcase Tiara Darnell's Carnival for deaf and developmentally challenged students in Ouarzazate for our first event spotlight! We ask that you let us know if you run, or have already completed, an event of this nature. We hope you share your best and worst practices with us as Tiara has done (remember that whole M&E thing?--We're working on it). You can find her report on the event below:
1. Could you briefly describe the event (1. the goals/ 2. what happened)
I collaborated with a local association to host a carnival at my Dar Chebab for deaf and developmentally challenged youth from a nearby school in my site. After having already worked with the kids doing art therapy classes for six months, the carnival was our first big event. The children prepared their own costumes with our help over a two day period. The goal this time was mainly to do something special for the children and to introduce them to the Dar Chebab since many of them never have the opportunity to leave the school grounds except to go home. We also wanted to bring attention to the school and the children since they are somewhat isolated and their school lacks the resources to do a lot of basic and extra things to support the children and their development.
In the end about 30-40 children took part in this event. The kids wore their costumes and walked in carnival fashion from their school to the Dar Chebab for all to see. After that we had face painting, bobbing for apples, puzzle games, bowling, and various games that used an American football. All of these games are fun for youth, and especially great for challenged youth because they are easy to explain.
2. How did you set up the event (including who you worked with, associations, schools, etc.)
Peace Corps volunteers have worked with members of the Association Generations for International Workcamps ('Association Générations pour les Chantiers Interntionaux) for a long time. This association works with all types of youth, and aids volunteers from foreign countries in participating in activities for "voluntourist." The president of the association is Mustapha El Ghazi. There is another association that runs the school for the deaf, Achouruk Association for the Deaf. The school is also called Achouruk as well.
3. Who were the participants (age/gender/special needs (were all of them special needs?)
The participants were youth ages 8-13. I'm not sure about the number of girls versus boys exactly but I think we had a pretty even number so maybe 15-20 girls and 15-20 boys. All of the participants are special needs children, but we hoped by having the event at the Dar Chebab other children would come and participate as well.
4. How did you tailor the event to the participants and their special needs?
We've found that art is the easiest way to work with these students since we have issues with communication. We used art as a way to bring the carnival to life through costume, and as a way to get the kids engaged and excited in doing something different. The games we had for them to play again, were all fun, simple, and easy to explain or demonstrate without using verbal communication.
5. What worked?
Making the costumes and the games worked. The carnival procession was a success to because the children were comfortable and proud of what they'd made and how they were displaying themselves.
6. What didn't work?
I wish I'd thought ahead to make a banner though. I think most people saw the kids and thought they were just some children from any school. These kinds are from the only school of it's kind in the immediate and surrounding regions. Also, we'd hope that some other children would come and play games with the kids from Achouruk but that didn't exactly happen. There were one of two other children that floated in and out but overall the event was mostly attended by the challenged children.
Teachers from the school were also invited to help. Some of them did come, but I don't believe they wanted to be there. Many of them were constantly trying to end the event, take the children back to the school, and go home. In the end we told them they could leave if they wanted and we would take care of the children ourselves.
7. Would you recommend working with those organizations/associations again?
I would highly recommend working with the Association Generations. The members are highly motivated and they have a long-standing relationship with Peace Corps volunteers, and they are always around to help. I recommend working with the Achouruk students because they are a great, bright bunch, and they really benefit from having art-related extra curricular activities. I would just say not to expect much from the Association Achouruk because the teachers aren't motivated to do anything extra unless they are getting paid for it, and the president of the association isn't present most of the time either.
Roman Goddesses: Thanks Tiara!