Gaza: Higher than the Wall activities launched at the CCG
Gaza – (A.M. Qattan Foundation – 24 February 2018)
“We don’t want closed classrooms. We want classrooms without doors, enabling us to move around. We want green spaces, open-air playgrounds, and screens to display silent movies. Give us the chance to learn in spacious areas without walls.”
This was part of the components and specifications of the school, which 14 children with hearing impairment dreamed of. These children participated in an encounter of Higher than the Wall, a programme implemented by the Child Centre – Gaza (CCG) / A.M. Qattan Foundation in collaboration with the Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children. Higher than the Wall is one activity of the CCG Spring 2019 programme cycle. In the encounter, the core question revolved around the theme of “integration”. The encounter also sought to assess whether participants in the Higher than the Wall programme would accept the idea of a classroom shared by hard of hearing children and children without disabilities.
Children had different opinions both for and against the idea. Each had their own justifications. Children with partial hearing impairment were in favour of integration. They believed that this option would allow them an opportunity to develop their language, demonstrating that they were not different from others and are capable of coexisting with children without disabilities.
On the other hand, completely hard of hearing children opted for a world of their own. In sign language, they said they were the best and they were proud of using sign language. They felt they were persons who had a life of their own. They rejected interference with their life as they belonged to one integrated community.
At the end of the encounter, it was agreed to reconsider the theme of integration and attempt to reflect on this experience in the future. Participants would come up with a perception that realises the idea of integration, while at the same time maintaining the inclinations, wishes and privacy of children with hearing impairment.
The CCG implements the Higher than the Wall programme with the aim of dismantling illusory walls and barriers, which deny children with disabilities’ access to a full and effective community participation. The programme creates an enabling environment that helps children with disabilities to develop life skills and learn positive patterns of behaviour.
Since 2014, the CCG has been implementing the programme in partnership with institutions that work with children with disabilities, including the Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children and Al-Noor Rehabilitation Centre for the Visually Impaired.