February is Kindergarten registration month in Toronto. I have found the whole process to be incredibly stressful, wringing my hands over questions like: Is our home school good enough? Should we put our names in for one of the “alternative” schools? Montessori? Should I enrol him at all? Will he have access to the resources he needs to excel? (Is it obvious that he’s my first child to enter the school system?)
Then I received an email with an informe (report) about one of our projects and was reminded of how fortunate we are here. I took a deep breath, filled out the forms and realized that my son – at age 4 – has more choice, and access to more resources for kindergarten than most children in Peru or Bolivia will ever have for their entire education.
These informes are one of the ways we track progress at each of our projects, but they are also a wonderful story-telling tool. (And also help put things into perspective when I’m full of first-world-problem angst!)
One of our newer partner projects is. Manos Unidas works to integrate children with special needs (who rarely have access to education, particularly in remote Andean communities) into the regular education stream, and successfully integrated 15 students last year alone. In addition to working with the students, they also run awareness workshops at the schools in which the students are being integrated. The workshops are attended by teachers, students and parents.
This is Andrea’s story.
Andrea is one of the students enrolled at. The director, Celeste, wrote: “Andrea is a wonderful example of the effectiveness of inclusion. She has been with Camino Nuevo for four years. She has been in special education her whole life and has a history of violent and aggressive behavior.
When Andrea began at Camino Nuevo she had no interest in learning, she would attack and cuss at teachers and classmates. We noticed that she desperately wanted to be like other kids, she would approach them in the park, but many times scare children away with her approach. Andrea is very intelligent but she needed guidance to learn how to socialize.
Camino Nuevo placed Andrea in a gradual inclusion program in 2012, leading to her full time inclusion in 2013. Her behavior was under control, she enjoyed being with other peers and was studying at a 3rd grade level. When we included her in Los Nogales, some children were a bit frightened of her because she is tall, unbalanced and loves to hug so she can suddenly become this tall girl falling over a small student! However, her classmates noticed very quickly that she loves to converse, play games, is friendly and likes to participate in class.
This year for Camino Nuevo’s anniversary, we invited classmates of our students in Los Nogales to participate in a traditional dance presentation. Andrea and one of her classmates spent the evening walking everywhere with their arms linked, best of buddies!”
By Meagan Ross, Executive Director