Short Outreach Program
Over 15,000 pupils in Athens and nationwide have attended “LIFE STEPS”, the Short Outreach program for Children and Teenagers providing information and raising awareness on the Integration of Persons with Disabilities,
The purpose of the outreach program is to take "LIFE STEPS" towards embracing diversity and disabilities by eliciting various emotions and bringing about understanding
The children themselves are those who investigate new ways of eliminating physical and social impediments. Through experiential methods the children have the opportunity to understand meanings such as equality, parity, solidarity, team spirit, respect, etc. They gain insight and begin to understand that irrespective of the nature of the physical impediment, “the cup can be always half full “and “how it feels to walk in someone else's shoes!”
Through interaction, pupils manage to:
- understand the term disability better
- deal with their fears and reservations
- talk about an issue that our society avoids
During the intervention, adults with disabilities / mentors, talk about their own experience and recount their story to the pupils. A typical question of a third-grade pupil towards a mentor was: “If you were able to make a wish come true, would that be to not have a disability?”
To which Maximilian answered, “No, I would not make such a wish, because my disability has taught me things about myself and my relationship with other people”.
Each outreach activity is filled with emotions and authentic and unimpeded contact and communication. A pupil asked us: “why is it called wheelchair for the disabled”? As it is a chair with wheels, which otherwise would be a “wheelchair”. Why should we name it according to the person seated in it?
At another outreach event, the history of the mentor moved a young pupil to such a degree that he felt safe enough to disclose to his fellow pupils that he also had a disability that he had been ashamed of revealing.