Giraffes

Drama workshop in English for all children and youngsters from all European countries who want to learn English in a creative way. Giraffes has a special focus on children and youngsters who suffer from dyslexia, attention disorders, hyperactivity or other specific learning disorders due to autistic traits.

Giraffes provides Drama activities in English as a foreign language. Giraffes is a workshop for everyone who wants to have fun experiencing drama, deepening his/her knowledge of the English language making an expressive and transmissive use of it. Special support will be offered to children and youngster who suffer from specific learning disorders. Children with specific learning disorders learn more easily through activities which combine sound, image and action. Moreover, they can memorise long auditive-segments very well. Drama activities are suitable for them. Drama requires a personal and sensorial involvement, which activates resources and abilities latent in the individuals . Drama is an inclusive activity par excellence.

 

To us with their height, their long legs and necks giraffes symbolise the boys and the girls with specific learning disorders such as dyslexia or ADHS/ADS, people usually endowed with an intelligence well above the average, creativity and intuition, capable of looking over the crowns of the trees, towards new horizons, but who find it difficult to cope with the daily school situations with which other children have no difficulty at all.

 

People with specific learning disorders -dyslexics as well as people with hyperactivity disorders or some kind of autistic spectrum sisorder -are usually endowed with an intelligence well above the average, creativity, imagination and intuition. Still not all people with specific learning disorders can achieve high level of education. This opportunity still depends for these children on the personal, cultural and financial resources of their families. Learning English or any other foreign language from school books is not easy for people with specific learning disorders. It’s not only about learning new orthographic rules, it is more about acquiring new vocabulary and linguistic structures through skills which for these children represent more a barrier than a tool. One of the keys to a European or even more Global aware Citizenship is the ability to communicate and to get information through other languages, among them English is a very imp

 

Giraffes supports meetings between groups of students from different European countries based on activities such as exploring the territory, contact with its flora and fauna, games and sports in the nature. The language used will be switched according to a pre-organized schedule between mother and foreign language. Led by teachers and assistants the boys and girls will alternate in the role of expert and learner of the language. Geo- Giraffes coordinates the extra curricular activities for the students, while the partner schools organise their integration in the school life.

Accomodation and meals will be provided  at the Visit Centre of Gradina in Doberdo’ del Lago and at the Visit Centre of the Regional Natural Reserve Foce dell´Isonzo- Isola della Cona. 

Natural Reserve of the lakes Doberdò and Pietrarossa – “Gradina” Visitor Centre- The protected area involves three municipalities of the Province of Gorizia: Doberdò del Lago (Doberdob), Monfalcone and Ronchi dei Legionari; its characteristic element is the presence of two large karstic depressions (polje) each with a lake and separated one from another by a range of limestone hills. The presence of the lakes contrasts stongly with the arid environments surrounding them and has allowed the development of ecosystems that are usually absent in the Karst and gives the protect area a high degree of biodiversity. Following the footpaths in the area offers the possibility to observe the transition from arid habitats such as the meadows of the landa carsica and the limestone pavements through to those of the wetlands that surround the lake. On the hill above the lake of Doberdò is the Gradina Visitor Centre in the museum of which the visitor can, through an interactive display, take in the historical and ecological aspects of the reserve and the surrounding Karst. The visitor centre together with the Paludario are managed by the ROGOS Cooperative that also organizes educational activities with schools, excursions, scientific divulgation and art exhibitions.

The “Foce of Isonzo” Regional Nature Reserve was established in 1996. It extends over a surface of 2,338 hectares, out of which almost half is situated in marine areas, and develops on a territory included in the municipalities of Staranzano, Grado, San Canzian d’Isonzo and Fiumicello. The environment of the mouth of the Isonzo River has been almost renaturalized in the ‘90s when the agricultural use of the the territory has been abandoned, the Natural Reserve has been established and the hunting has been forbidden. The huge variety of the different humid environments allows the large amount of birds species present in this habitat. More than 300 species has been observed. Within the Reserve, part of the meadow habitats are groomed through the pasture of Camargue horses, a species which is particularly adapted to this environment. Furthermore the Reserve promotes the development of educational and informative activities for scientific research to increase the naturalistic culture.

 

It is our care to keep the costs for the participants as low as possible
(limiting them to a minimum expense contribution) thanks to
the support of partners and sponsors and the obtaining of institutional
funding for the project.

GIRAFFES – APRIL 2020 EDITION (eng – it)

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OCTOBER 2019 EDITION

 

At the bottom of the page a short video to show the work of the team and the participants in the English language theatre workshop of the October 2019 edition at the I.S.I.S. B.E.M. headquarters in Staranzano (Go).

 

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Educational meeting

DSA and socio-emotional paths

(Sala Delbianco – Staranzano, 23.10.2019)

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  • Intervention of Dr. Saverio Merzliak (CISI Director)

Institutional networks exist, but they are sometimes too wide. The CISI is working on the personalization of interventions to try to tighten the mesh of the social assistance network, for example through the SIL (the sector for the employment of people with disabilities) the CISI intends to prepare individual paths of social integration after compulsory school or at the age of majority.

We want to try to change the approach of the institution with schools and families, looking for a sharing of assessments in order to define appropriate care pathways for each person. The attempt is therefore to have a common location between the various services to adapt the path. In addition, families with children with special needs are primarily families like others, but in them, however, the dynamics of relationships and situations to be addressed need greater attention … and currently a path with families, there is no support for families, or rather, it exists only thanks to the individual operator, educator, whose availability and expertise is also entrusted to this care of the relationship with the families of the user in charge.

It is necessary to imagine “new”, more creative and attentive services able to observe, to know better each person entrusted to us and to define appropriate and, if possible, more correct individual paths. Certainly we need an adequate regulatory framework for the entire sector, but laws and money are not enough to solve the problems.

As far as economic resources are concerned, Friuli Venezia Giulia is a region that spends a lot of money on social and health care, for example the funding directed to the “autism” sector is enormous.

It would be necessary, however, to open a reflection on the efficiency of spending, putting order in the management of such a rich budget, because while some sectors are suffering, others may not even manage to spend what is allocated annually.

  •  Intervention of Prof. Giulia Bombi (I.s.i.s. Brignoli, Einaudi, Marconi – Gradisca d’Isonzo, Staranzano)

The Institute has almost 800 students. The students with DSA or disabilities are numerous: 102 with DSA, 31 with disabilities. In addition, there are also about twenty foreign students, so the Institute has about 150 students with various specific educational needs. In addition, there are various situations of difficulty due to social discomfort. And even these situations need specific attention, because if you are not well with yourself you obviously do not “go” well even at school.

Currently at BEM there are classes with even 5 or 10 students with DSA. In fact most of the DSA cases, despite their level and intelligence is often above average, are usually addressed to professional schools, such as our agricultural school.

Many students with DSA arrive in high school with a well-defined character and generally with low self-esteem.

The diagnosis must be earlier. Adequate work is also needed not only at school, but also at home. It is not easy and it is not cheap. From experience, the best parents in managing a child with DSA are those who have had/have DSA. However, when, outside of school, the family “isn’t there” or simply can’t adequately deal with the problems of the child with DSA, the children are sick.

Compared to the subjects with DSA lacks the net (or has too wide mesh …) between the competent authorities. Children with DSA then have no right to a support teacher. The network works better with cases of disability. It is necessary to teach these children to use appropriate compensatory methods and/or tools overcoming the reluctance and shame to use them. The best diagnosis is the one that helps to identify the different compensatory tools best suited to the individual boy or child. Teachers should be accompanied to find ways to change their teaching method, trying to adapt it to the educational needs of people with “different” skills.

  • Interventions of Dr. Černic and Dr. Bolzon (Children’s Neuropsychiatry – Healthcare Company No. 2)

Child neuropsychiatry is a territorial service that takes care of children (0-18 years) living in the health district. It is a multidisciplinary team of 14 professionals (1 neuropsychiatrist, some psychologists, physiotherapists, speech therapists), which is activated when a psychopathology emerges or some form of “disorder” is reported, to carry out an “ad hoc” project in favor of each individual.

During 2018, the Service dealt with 1058 minors, naturally with very different situations, from those solved with a consultation to the most complex ones.

Of the total number of cases, 290 were those with disabilities or serious disorders (27%). To define the projects for each child, the Service works in collaboration with schools, social services of municipalities and the CISI. The children with DSA are the responsibility of and are evaluated by Dr. Bolzon, psychologist of the Health Authority.

In 2018 the DSA certifications were 58, in 2019 -today- 70. The Azienda Sanitaria operates through a multidisciplinary assessment that includes neurological, psychological and speech therapy. The psychologist evaluates cognitive and mnemonic skills and makes an overall assessment of reading and writing skills, etc. … Children who are diagnosed usually arrive with a good awareness of their problems.

The Lower Isonzo area has always had a great sensitivity in intercepting discomfort. Over the years the complexity of the isontine society has increased, as well as the “problematic” cases. For example, in the 2-6 years there are this year 55 diagnosed cases of autism…

Law 170/2010 has institutionalized the DSA and related services, but there is a lack of adequate tools to make them fully effective.

The contribution of the Health Authority is mainly diagnostic: it frames the problems that affect each “case” and tries to help define the most correct path, more suitable to overcome the specific problems of each child, informing and involving the various competent subjects (first of all family and school). A last factor that in recent times could be aggravating compared to DSA is the abnormal use of smartphones even by very young children.

  • Intervention of Dr. Haseena Barbana, pedagogical coordinator of the Giraffes Project – School of Peace.

I will not make an academic intervention, although in my life I have read many books and seen many multimedia materials on the subject. I prefer here to tell about my experiences and I will report some of my personal reflections on them.

I have worked a lot with young people who present a combination of learning disorder and socio-emotional disorder, I would say almost emotional suffering and social dislocation.

I am also the mother of two girls with special learning needs and ways of learning, although they are both very intelligent.

Recently I even found out that I too, as a child, had some learning difficulties that I instinctively overcame at quite a high cost to my personality development.

As a mother I spent years looking for help for my daughters.

When I studied to become a support teacher and discovered dyslexia, dyscalculia and attention disorder, I realized what it was all about. At that point the problem arose that the spelling difficulties were present, but were not serious enough to have the diagnosis and therefore the right to compensatory and dispensative tools. There was in them a capacity for logical mathematical thinking higher than average, but a difficulty in performing arithmetic calculations. This, however, could not be attributed to dyscalculia. To what then? Attention disorder? To some lack on the part of the math teacher? Why, despite all the games and repetitions, could not learn the tables? And why, despite the fact that she could not learn the tables, she did not receive the diagnosis of dyscalculia that would have allowed her to use the calculator and therefore to have a sufficient math grade? This was my first conflict with the pathological and discriminating nature of the diagnosis.

As a support teacher in Italy I have always tried to use the diagnosis as an indication of the weak points of the children’s school performance. I then tried to identify with them their strong points, as I had done with myself as a child, to enhance their resources and use them to compensate for their weaknesses. I then tried, as I had tried to do with my daughters, to give them in a compensatory way (for example an audiobook instead of a book) inputs that could reach their mind despite their difficulties in attention, reading, language, special mode of thought, difficulties that I perceived as an almost physical barrier, to be overcome in order to reach the mind. I felt on the right side, I thought I was doing my best.

In Germany, observing and trying to “support” children who had a socio-emotional disorder, I realized that they had a personality type similar to mine when I was a little girl. Every time I walked into a classroom of a general school and observed the classroom atmosphere and the social and learning behavior expected from the boys, I clearly felt that if I grew up in that environment I would end up in a special school for the socio-emotional disorder because of my way of thinking, acting, being, functioning, my need for authenticity, personal definition of the ways and goals of learning, perhaps because of my learning disorder, certainly also because of my need for creativity.

Soon then, while working with colleagues, I realized that all those professional qualities that had earned me the esteem of my colleagues in Italy, in Germany, in the German school environment, were instead counterproductive, seen as “disturbing”: all of a sudden the feedback I received from the environment was highly negative, almost of contempt, in some cases of compassion.

Why am I telling this story? Because it was this negative perception of me that made me pass over to the other side, because in Germany, but perhaps also sometimes in Italy, teachers and students represent two sides placed one in front of the other and it is as if in the classroom there is a challenge on who is more capable… the simple concept of class-management proves it. Having no colleague with whom to exchange opinions and feel supported in my daily battle to make the students reach some goals despite their difficulties, I began to feel solidarity with the students, to feel closer to them.

This has pushed me to have a great empathy towards these guys. I began to see them inside and understand what was going on in their heads, in their souls. They felt this closeness and began to tell their feelings, their emotions, what was going on in their head, when, in case of dyscalculia, they tried to do a calculation, or, in case of dyslexia, they wanted to read and understand a text. They were not ashamed to talk to me about their difficulties, they abandoned the state of resignation, they wanted to improve, they asked for help, they listened more and more. Having reached this point that I had perceived as a success, I clashed with many parents who, like me in the past compared to my daughters, did not want to admit the special needs of their children. Still others preferred to lock them up in the cage of a learning disability diagnosis, make them attend a special school where they received a simplified and reduced teaching, to go out on the job market without a minimum diploma.

Again professional frustration: seeing boys with an IQ from 100 to 139, I have seen many of them in special schools… boys who can’t learn in school books, in a classroom and who, even worse, don’t have the self-confidence and motivation and therefore the strength to explore and look for personal ways to the goals required by the world around them or to make society accept their personal goals and their other path. People who are disturbed, people who are resigned, people who are angry, people who are violent, people who soon start using alcohol and drugs, people who steal. Incapable people. As incapable, little by little, I felt myself, in that environment where everything that I felt as true, valid and important in me, was not reflected positively but rather rejected or denied negativity.

This is how I see the interrelation between DSA and BES. The disorder is not in the person but in the relationship with the human and material environment.

In the person there is emotional and psychic suffering due to the disturbance in communication which is not effective and not satisfactory. In the person there is the social dislocation due to the non-consonance of meaning of life, which develops in the adolescent and then in the young adult, or because of the impossibility of assuming, in the social group of belonging, an active role and recognized by others and at the same time felt as appropriate to their needs and their nature. In the teacher there is frustration, in the group a waste of human resources.

Where to start from to get out of this vicious circle? Do we have to start from a diagnosis to define what the boy can or cannot do? To define skills and therefore disabilities? To compensate from the outside a difficulty ? The diagnosis is certainly necessary to be able to place the child in our academic/normodirected system.

But how to avoid the sense of fatigue and inadequacy ? Low self-esteem ? How to avoid the perception of disability and make it become communication with Altrability ? I wondered, looking at myself: how can it be that a person, who has been capable for so many years, suddenly becomes incapable? And how is it possible that a person considered so far by all the adults in the environment around him/her to be seriously incapable, suddenly becomes capable, very capable?

That a child with a diagnosed IQ of 78 – actually with attention disorder and dyslexia – can win the treasure hunt – organized by me with dyslexia material – in the library? That a boy considered “severely handicapped” in learning because of his very serious attention disorder, suddenly read whole books, do math exercises correctly and quickly, want to go to university and therefore want at all costs to leave the special school?

What does our being, or rather our feeling of being able to do so, depend on?

It depends, in my opinion, on practical-cognitive factors and at the same time on socio-emotional factors. On the possibility of reaching goals that we feel are valid by ourselves and at the same time by the human, material and, I dare say, natural environment around us. And at the same time from the possibility of being able to reach these goals with our own strength, using our own brain and expressing our soul for what it is, without having to change it, force it, distort it.

 

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Photo credits: Matteo De Luca, Sameena Corrado e Corrado Altran, Tatjana Schmidt