No barriers for Europeans
We present ‘No barriers for Europeans‘, an Erasmus+ project and school association which involved six schools from Spain, Turkey, Poland, Portugal, Italy, and Lithuania with children with special needs. The main goal was to raise awareness of the situation and needs of disabled pupils and to promote equality and group integration. Exchanging experiences and the visits to the different schools helped the teachers share opinions and good practices for improving the students’ teaching and learning process. Sara Antolín and Rafael Sanjosé, the teachers involved in the project, tell us about their experience of implementing this project..
Project theme and objectives
The project focuses on disability and we tried to increase the awareness of the situation and needs of disabled students. Whenever we meet disabled people in our society, we feel pity for them, but we don’t do anything about it. With the help of this project, we wanted to break down the most common existing prejudice in our society against disabled people or people with certain disorders. He did our best to succeed; we tried to make our students, especially those at an early age, understand that disabled students can achieve much more if we involve them in everyday activities and let them work side by side with children without any disabilities. We think this is very important in order for the children to empathize from an early age.
Age of students involved
Our school is a rural Pre-primary and Primary school with approximately 40 students; a large number of them come from a migrant background.
The other project partners were Pre-primary, Primary, and Secondary schools.
Addressed subject areas and content
The project was cross-curricular and it framed in all subject areas. For instance, in the case of the language subject area, we put together surveys and we wrote and exchanged letters. In Arts, a lot of work was done, such as getting to know various disabled artists and replicating their work; the students’ works were displayed in art shows. In Physical education we learnt various games adapted to different types of disabilities and Paralympics sports. In Music we did adaptations and we learnt songs in different languages. In English we worked on vocabulary related to the project and we also designed cards and wrote letters. We put great emphasis on working with ICT in order to improve our work in the classroom.
Project phases and implementation methodology.
No barriers for europeans was implemented for two school years, from 2014 to 2016 in which we constantly worked on the project.
At first we passed a questionnaire to the parents, students, and teachers in order to find out where we stood as far as knowledge on disabilities. We planned joint activities and agreed on a calendar for their implementation. The teachers who were project coordinators were permanently in touch with each other in order to resolve possible issues or to integrate new ideas into the work plan.
On a monthly basis and then especially when the project was finished, we evaluated the activities, their relevance, the way they had been adapted to the students from the different schools, and their impact. When it was completed, we passed the questionnaire again in order to assess if the objectives had been achieved.
As for the tangible materials we created, we could mention the student painting exhibitions, the classrooms’ decoration, the wall displays, the evaluation questionnaires, etc. Nevertheless, from our standpoint, the most important aspects were the children’s experiences; they coexisted with children with mobility issues, they danced with children from the occupational workshop, they participated in a small scale Paralympics Games, etc.
Project evaluation and dissemination
From an inside perspective, we think the project had a completely positive impact; we can see the results in our students, their families, and teachers. What also motivates us is that we have also received positive feedback from the outside. We have been awarded the eTwinning National Quality Label and also the European Quality Label.
There are various articles published in local and regional newspapers about our project; also, online media and a few communication agencies also featured news about the project.
Positive outcomes for the school, teachers, and students
Teachers, students, and families have learnt to work together and became aware that anyone could have a disability at one point in their lives. The project succeeded in fostering the spirit of working together with different European countries in order to achieve a common goal. Those involved in the project have gained in-depth knowledge that helped them to break down “barriers” (despite their cultural diversity), to improve their language skills and their knowledge of other languages, and to get familiar with the way other European countries work with disabled people. Also, students have improved their learning process and teachers have become more efficient in their work.
Sara Antolín Mediavilla- Rafael San José Rodríguez
CRA Campos de Castilla
Becilla de Valderabuey-Valladolid-Castilla y León