Last Thursday Giulia Girella, a volunteer at Vilnius Šilas School, presented the final event of the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) project “What do we know about disability?” at the bookshop “VAGA”. The event was designed to share knowledge about working with children who have special education needs and to discuss the inclusion of such children in the society.
The participants of the discussion were greeted by Monika Guliakaitė, a lawyer of the European Foundation of Human Rights (EFHR), who briefly introduced the activities and projects of EFHR. Guliakaitė reminded that the EFHR is an accredited organisation, participating in youth exchange projects since 2013. The EFHR is the coordinating organisation of the project in which Giulia, currently spending her 10th month in Lithuania, is participating.
Giulia Girella, the main initiator of the event, presented the study she conducted regarding public attitudes towards disability. Having questioned 1000 people from 5 countries, it became clear that a large part of the society is still having trouble differentiating between illness and disability, for example, in the cases of autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. After the speech, a short film was presented, in which Giulia interviewed the specialists of Vilnius Šilas School, aiming to disclose what is Down syndrome and cerebral palsy, how can speech therapists and physiotherapists help, what is special education and how does it differ from the usual one. The film is composed of the moments filmed at Giulia’s school.
During the event Vaida Maziukienė, special pedagogue at Vilnius Šilas School, presented her experience working with children that have special needs at Vilnius Šilas School; she also talked about positive results and gave some practical advice.
After the presentations a short discussion took place, during which the audience asked about Vilnius Šilas School and its activities and discussed the prospects of special education in Lithuania. Egidija Urbanavičienė, the director of Vilnius Šilas School, and Sigita Bajerčiūtė, deputy director of education, also joined the discussion.
We are very grateful to everyone that came and that was interested in the topic, also the bookshop „VAGA“ for the provided place, the specialists of Vilnius Šilas School for the shared experiences and the ESC volunteer Giulia Girella for the initiative organizing the event.