Achieving Artistic Equality for the Children with Special Needs

An excerpt from the article by Sister Maria Kotova

Art as the territory of equality

The largest mental Health Care Boarding Home in Europe is located in Minsk, just near St. Elisabeth Convent.  Those of us who has met the special people living there are sure that there are things we all can learn from them, such as impartiality, openness, sincerity, good attitude to life and pure love… This is what makes them so happy!

Many people are ready to share their time, energy, knowledge and emotions, when they come to the boarding homes for children or adults with special needs and take part in various artistic projects. Experience has shown that art and artistic activity can become a great foundation for communication, integration, adaptation and socialization of people with Down syndrome. Art as the territory of constant and true equality. There are several examples I want to give.

There is an animation studio at the convent. Children with special needs create there their own cartoons together with other children. Together they work on cartoons from the stage of drawing the background to the stage of making animation and recording the voices of the characters.  Children learn to communicate with other people, to make friends and to work together.

The inhabitants of the boarding home visit the Men’s rehabilitation center, where they undergo the course of hippotherapy, which is a therapeutic horse riding. Children go to the country and have opportunity to spend time with graceful and kind animals, as well as visit a petting zoo. All these things bring them joy and make their life more colorful, impressive and entertaining. What is more, we all have a dream of a large summer house, where children and adults with special needs, living in the boarding homes, their relatives and friends and even volunteers could gather to spend time together.

Alexander Zhdanovich, an actor from Maxim Gorky Drama Theater, leads a theatre studio “Radost’” (“Joy”) for ten years. Together with the inhabitants of the boarding home for children, he managed to put on stage a play “Little Prince”, in which the children play the parts themselves. It is a sincere and touching story, which is not without the sense of irony, sensitive themes and deep Christian meanings.

The unusual actors really need our help. Quite soon, on April 2, they will go up on stage again in one of the concert halls in Minsk. They will come to surprise, to make us laugh, to touch our hearts, to look us in the eyes and tell about the most important things.

In conclusion

I have a good and effective piece of advice for those people, who want to train themselves both emotionally and spiritually. It has been proven by the experience of a large number of people. The thing is, you just have to come to the boarding home. Cast aside your fear, your doubt and you self-conceit. Get over your limitless excuses, such as “I can’t”, “I don’t want”, “I don’t know” and “I fear”… This will give your life a new meaning without any doubt. It will become more bright and conscious after you meet these kind sunny people. The only thing they want in return is equal treatment. The treatment without neglect, excessive pity and indifference.

Here are a few more photos from their performance: 

St. Elisabeth Convent

March 21, 2017