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NGO "I see" at the American-European seminars in Moscow: yesterday Carol Quirk and Aivija Barda, today Inese Karklina, tomorrow Summer solstice festival in Amatciems

April 21, 2017

The following is a press release from the Society for the Integration of the Blind "I See" (Es redzu):

The Latvian NGO for the Integration of the people with sight impairment "I See" (Es redzu), is actively involved in the project "Effective implementation of the right to inclusive education at the local level", which is being held in Russia with the support of the US Disabilities Act (ADA) Anniversary Program

and the EU foundation.

On March 26-30, a seminar was held in Moscow on the topic with participation of leading American expert, executive director of the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education Carol Quirk and head of "I see" Aivija Barda. Aivija Barda spoke about the practical aspects of inclusive education, including the experience of the Vaivari Basic School (Jurmala), from which recently graduated her blind son Georgs. Currently, Georgs Barda is completing his studies in the US as alumnus of the FLEX program. Taking into account his achievements during the studies in Latvia, as well as academic and social success in the USA, the Vaivari Basic School nominated Georgs Barda as a candidate for the International Children's Peace Prize 2017.

In turn, Carol Quirk shared her experience of supervising 75 schools in five states, for which she carried out strategic planning and technical support for students with disabilities. In the opinion of the American expert, the main task is to demonstrate that the project of creating a new inclusive system at school brings benefits not only to children with disabilities, but also to all students and their parents. It is important that everyone involved understands that this is not some kind of charity, not a one-way game, but a good for all. The questioning of two thousand people showed that ordinary children are also benefiting from the inclusion of disabled people in the educational process: they have an increased emotional intelligence and a sense of responsibility, progress in studies and improvement of behavior. When the management of schools sees such bonuses, their attitude towards potential innovations would undergo crucial changes.

On the next stage of the project, on April 12, in Moscow there was a webinar "The development of inclusive education in Latvia. Legislation and practical models". As the invited expert, the director of the Vaivari Basic School, Inese Karklina spoke about the legislative basis of inclusive education in Latvia, the perception and interpretation of the concepts "inclusive" and "integrative education”, inclusive school models in Latvia, and also shared examples of good practice from the Vaivari Basic School experience. The activist of "I see" Inese Karklina started her pedagogical career in 1983 as a teacher of the Latvian language and literature. In 1996, she created the first inclusive school in Latvia, which she has been managing for more than 20 years. Vaivari school is located in a forest close to the sea coast, has the status of ecological school and makes a good partnership with "I see" in many projects. It is famous for special programs for children with mental disorders, with hearing and musculoskeletal disorders and autistic spectrum, as well as for children with visual impairments. Much attention is paid to the training of teachers working with children with disabilities, as well as to attract volunteers to work in the school.

According to the chairman of the board of "I see" Aivija Barda, the experience of the Vaivari Basic School was in high demand both by participants both from Russia and experts from the USA, Finland and other EU countries. "That proves once again that we, here in Latvia, often underestimate our achievements. The response of the project participants clearly demonstrates the importance of what our advanced directors and teachers are doing under stressful conditions. I hope that these achievements will be evaluated both in terms of recognition and increase in funding at the level of the state and local governments."

In addition to participating in the seminars, activists and partners of "I see" are preparing the summer event of the inclusive camp "The Other Riga, the Other Latvia" for young people with special needs and their friends aged 13 to 25, which takes place in Amatciems near the Gauja National Park. A week of intensive training with guide dogs, sports events, leadership classes, confidential conversations and the celebration of the traditional Summer solstice festival is scheduled for the end of June.

Press Service of the Society for the Integration of the Blind "I See" (Es redzu)

+371 2648271

FACEBOOK: @esredzu

  • Published: 21.04.2017 11:28
  • Press release, LETA
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