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  Chinese Way>Life

Play nice

2013-03-04 09:05:20


At the hall of the China Science and Technology Museum in Chaoyang district on Saturday morning, a group of 18 children with special needs became the focus of the morning. The physically and mentally impaired children from Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, were performing a soulful dance called Blue Earth. Their flowing body movements drew hundreds, including other kids who were visiting the museum.

The children, who have been training with choreographer Wang Kai for four years, traveled to the capital over the weekend to open the curtain for a month-long exhibition at the museum entitled Children of the Sea: When I Meet You.

Hosted by the Guangzhou Children's Palace and the Guangdong Museum, the multimedia exhibition of photos, video clips and interactive games aims to raise awareness of integrated education for children with special needs.

Consisting of hundreds of art works including paintings and photos made by children with special needs from over 40 countries, the exhibition is categorized into eight sections with a focus on the social value of the works. Each section is named after a question, for example, "What's your name?," "Who are you?" and "Where are you from?," to introduce the special and vulnerable group to each visiting audience in a light, personable manner.

During the exhibition, which closes April 2, seminars on the education of the special group and workshops on physical therapy will also take place and are free to attend.

The term "special needs children" refers to those with visual or hearing impairment and mental retardation, as well as those suffering from cerebral palsy or autism, said Deng Meng, a researcher in special education with Beijing Normal University, at a seminar following the opening ceremony on Saturday.

Traditionally, such children go to special schools with tailored teaching materials, curriculum and facilities. However, it has become common practice in the West for special needs children to attend regular schools that offer a better education, more opportunities to get along with other children and early integration into society.

The integration movement came to China about 15 years ago, when a number of children with special needs were accepted into regular schools and sat alongside non-handicapped students.

"Nationwide, about 2 percent of people with special needs are employed. It has been shown that only those who have gone through integrated education could be able to get jobs once they leave school," said Dai Rong, director of the Guangzhou Yang Ai Special Children Parent Club, at the seminar. However, more children nationwide still have to stay in special schools due to societal attitudes and limited teaching resources.

"The Beijing government has the regulation that no such children should be turned down by any regular school in Beijing they apply to. And most children who apply to go to regular schools have been accepted, " said Zhu Min, principal of the 21st Century Kindergarten in Beijing, which accepts children with special needs.

The problem is that they are just being accepted into the schools or classes. They might be arranged to sit in a corner of the class, or separated from regular students. The major reason, Zhu noted, is the attitude from the society.

"They are just being accepted, but are not being respected," she said.

Interaction with special needs children can greatly benefit all.

"Children who have experience getting along with those with special needs can become more loving and considerate," Zhu said.

Source: Global Times