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Screen_Shot_2014-12-01_at_8.27.54_PMThis week is being observed in Belize as Disability Week and several activities and events are being centered on breaking barriers and supporting full inclusion in classrooms. And while, education is a basic necessity for all people, it is recognized as a primary means for gaining independence, citizenship rights, appropriate employment, economic power and self-empowerment. The United Nation’s (UN) position is that all people, regardless of origin, gender, age, disability and creed, have the right to a meaningful education. The UN and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) advocate education as a human right for all people. And like all children, Deaf children must have access to equal and quality education. In light of Disability Week, every day we will feature an individual or groups of individuals who despite being classified as “Disabled” are very much “able” to be included as forming part of human diversity. Reporter Maria Novelo and Videographer Jesus Melgar bring you part 1 of this week long initiative to showcase the talents and abilities of our special needs children.

Maria Novelo – Reporting

Like all people, deaf or hearing impaired persons have the right to full access to quality education. And for these 6 hearing impaired students enrolled at the St. Peter’s Anglican School, full inclusion in the classrooms are supported. While they share the classroom with 17 other students, these six require an in class interpreter. For Olivia Mesh, teaching a child with special needs—seeing the child grow and learn—can be nothing short of wonderful.

Olivia Mesh – Interpreter, St. Peter’s Anglican School

“At the beginning we have yes normal challenges especially in the communication way but our students are very good because they are learning sign language, so if you see some of our kids they already know sign language, we have our teachers who are working with us they already know sign language, they already very friendly, before they were very like segregated away from others but now they are just like everyone so we are a big family in the school, they have been coping very well with the classwork, their only difference is that they are actually deaf but they can do all the school work just like everyone and we have some students who are doing amazing along with the cooperation of the other teachers, the support with the parents and the office and they are working with them and they are doing so fine.”

These students are primarily visual beings, whose eyes are their portal to the world of information and knowledge. Thus, sign language and visual strategies are made available in this diverse classroom. At St. Peter’s School, equal education is for everyone.

Olivia Mesh – Interpreter, St. Peter’s Anglican School

“Having the deaf included in the regular classroom we are showing that and we are promoting that everyone has the same rights to have and education we are also having students who are topping the class along with the other regular student helping them with their work and they have shown interest into their own education, especially the deaf ones, they are very committed when it comes to that.”

Maria Novelo – Reporter

“What is the dynamics inside the classroom in terms of their interaction with the regular kids?”

Olivia Mesh – Interpreter, St. Peter’s Anglican School

“Very active and they are always there asking questions, participating, they feel included like all the other kids.”

For Crystal Cajun who aspires to be a computer technician, reaching her dreams is in full effect.

Crystal Cajun – Hearing Impaired, Student

“I’m learning different things since especially I want to go to high school so I am very committed in studying so that I could go to Standard VI.”

Maria Novelo – Reporter

“What does she aspired to be when she grows up?”

Crystal Cajun – Hearing Impaired, Student

“I love computer so I want to love something that deals with that.”

Maria Novelo – Reporter

“So, has she been getting that support that she needs from her family from school for her to excel to get to that dream of hers?”

Crystal Cajun – Hearing Impaired, Student

“Yes, my mom and my dad have been very supportive, the teachers a well and the other regular classroom they also help when it comes to school work.”

But for now, these students are true testaments that disabled does not mean they are not able…..

Crystal Cajun – Hearing Impaired, Student

“Not because you have special need doesn’t mean you cannot learn you have the potential and the ability to do anything, you can have that seeing my deaf, they thought that I couldn’t do anything but being in the regular classroom they have experienced wonderful things and they are proving to themselves and to other people that they have the capacity to do whatever they want, they are planning to go over very soon to the college to pass their PSE and if they can do it all of you can do it and parents support your kids and if your kids doesn’t have anywhere St. Peter have to come to work and we are here to work with them.”

And for Jinelli, Ryan, Crystal, Elizianny, Jaheed and Misael who are looking forward to their high school days, the sky’s the limit.

This year’s Disability Week is being observed under the theme “Break barriers, open doors; for an inclusive society for all.” We’ll bring part two of this segment in tomorrow’s newscast.

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