Integration Upside-Down 2018 – City-wide support for education
During the second year of the “Integration Upside-Down” project, students from Chelčického Primary School’s class 2D met with students from Zahrádka’s rehabilitation class in three sessions at the Zahrádka Primary School.
The project’s aim is to bring together students from a regular primary school with their handicapped peers, and to familiarize them with how we teach handicapped children, including their support, therapy, and other activities. Thanks to these contacts, the project helps to remove any barriers that might exist between the two groups of students.
These objectives were met through self-experiential activities in which students from both schools participated. During the first meeting, the children could try out what it is like to perceive the world with all their senses, but with a focus on touch, taste, and smell. They explored a broad range of scents (for instance during aromatherapy), tried out various tactile aids, and experienced what it’s like to walk across interesting surfaces. As a result, they learned many new things about spatial orientation.
During the second meeting, the kids tried out various alternative forms of communication (signs, gestures, picture systems, photographs, sounds…). All these tools promoted mutual interaction, cooperation, and functional communication among the students from the two schools.
One interesting experience was learning about elements of basal stimulation during the third meeting. Basal stimulation can help students – and not just those with handicaps – to discover their own body and teach them to be more aware of it. The students from Chelčického learned about proper positioning and tried out various vibrational aids, a vibrating heat mattress, weighted blankets, and therapeutic pillows and tube cushions.
One important part of the program that was also a pleasant experience for all involved was the shared lunches that our students, aided by their teachers, prepared for their guests. At the end of each meeting, we engaged in a summary of what we did that day. All students could share their feelings and views on the day’s activities, and these talks naturally led us to focus on the main skills and information we learned, which can be applied to future interactions with handicapped individuals. Besides these social benefits, the visiting kids could also experience and learn about non-traditional activities and aids that they wouldn’t otherwise encounter at their school.
Also as part of the program, the students from Chelčického Primary School created interesting aids and objects that might help in daily instruction of Zahrádka’s students while also bringing them joy. For instance, they created a picture book with photographs of Chelčického’s students, showing how they were creating the various aids. Another creative product was a book of pictures and poems or songs, to be used for alternative communication. These books are still being used during classroom time with our students.
Fourth year of the Children’s Smile project in the 2018/2019 school year
During the 2018/2019 school, our school participated in the fourth year of the Children’s Smile project, and we are glad to say that our pupils’ parents have shown great interest in the subject of dental health. The project is organized under the auspices of Dr. Hana Zallmannová, with the patient support of dental hygienist Vendula Jaklová, who teaches parents and teachers how to properly look after children’s teeth, helps practice proper cleaning techniques, and aids in the selection of cleaning aids. Cleaning the teeth of children with multiple handicaps isn’t exactly easy, but increasing the quality of dental care is highly desirable, especially for preventative reasons.
Integration Upside-Down 2017
As part of the “Integration Upside-Down” project, three meetings were held with 2nd-grade pupils from the Chelčického Primary School, specifically from a class for children with learning disabilities. Five pupils from Zahrádka Primary School attended as well. The project’s aim was to introduce pupils from regular primary schools to the world of children with handicaps, to show them ways of supporting people with handicaps, to see their strengths, and to experience joy from being with them. These objectives were fulfilled through self-experiential activities that they engaged in together with the pupils from Zahrádka. The pupils could try out a simulation of various visual impairments, how to move around with a cane, or play regular children’s games while blindfolded. They tried out riding in a wheelchair and learned how to use one. The kids from Zahrádka and a physical therapist showed off some of their physical therapy techniques, which the kids from the regular school could try out for themselves.
In the music therapy studio and the snoezelen room, we presented a program focused primarily on promoting interaction, cooperation, and communication among the pupils from the different schools. The program was structured in a way so that pupils could try out working with aides that you won’t find in a regular school (a massage pool filled with plastic balls, aides for visual stimulation, non-traditional musical instruction, a vibrating podium etc.)
We also covered the subject of self-care, which is one of our pupils’ learning priorities. With their movement limited, the pupils moved from place to place, climbed onto a wheelchair, and put on clothing. At the end of our get-together, we created silk scarves and rainmakers that the kids used while in the music therapy studio. The pupils from both schools worked together to paint the scarves and make the rainmakers from cardboard tubes and beans. Each pupil got to take both products back to their school.
Every meeting concluded with a summary of the key information that the pupils should remember for the next time they encounter people with handicaps. There was also time for pupils to reflect on their experiences from the day and to ask questions and have then answered.
We also enjoyed refreshments together, which were prepared by pupils from with help from their teachers.
From the many photographs taking during each get-together, the pupils from Chelčického Primary School created a 3D folding cardboard book showing the most important and, for the pupils, most interesting moments from the meetings. The book was put on displace at Zahrádka Primary School.
Lectures on teaching girls with Rett Syndrome
On 9 June, 22 September, and 3 November, the Zahrádka Primary School hosted an educational series on selected aspects of “Comprehensive Care for Girls with Rett Syndrome.” Our special education teachers and their colleagues from the integration center prepared an introductory seminar on this extremely rare genetic illness, followed by a discussion of the topics of communication, physical therapy, ergotherapy, and relaxation techniques (especially basal stimulation and music therapy). The series was financed by a grant in support of education within the City of Prague in 2016. A total 48 teachers attended the workshops.
We would like to thank all participants, colleagues, and guests for their interest, and we wish team all the best and much success in their important and difficult work.
The “Children’s Smile” project
One of our key words for the new school year is “health.” That includes healthy teeth, and so we and our school have joined the “Children’s Smile” project by the Czech Green Cross. The project, which is already active at many preschools and primary schools, takes a playful approach to explaining to kids at school the connection between good tooth-brushing habits, nutrition, and the formation of cavities and periodontitis. As part of each lesson, pupils practice proper tooth-brushing skills.
For the Zahrádka Primary School, the project has been adapted to reflect the needs of our pupils and their parents. It consists of six visits by a dental hygienist, Mrs. Vendula Jaklová. The introductory meeting focused on explaining the project’s goals and presenting practical examples. The subsequent meetings will focus on individual work with the children, their parents, and the school’s teachers and their colleagues from the integration center. Since we are the first special education school with pupils with multiple handicaps to participate in the project, we will be working with the project organizers to find try to find the best approach. In any case, we welcome this possibility and are looking forward to it. We are also glad that parents have expressed an interest and are actively involved. Thanks go to Mrs. Jaklová for her patience, enthusiasm, and constant smile!
New Pathways to Practice
“New Pathways to Practice.”
The school is participating in the project “New Pathways to Practice: Innovation in Special Education” by the European Social Fund’s Prague Adaptability Operational Programme.
About the project