Breaking down the barriers facing disabled people
An ERDF-funded project has helped educate both teachers and students in Lower Silesia and Saxony so that they can interact better with disabled people.
" The various lesson plans, education projects and scenarios aimed at sensitising both students and teachers in mainstream schools to disabled people and their needs. The solutions we have found can be used in other schools, while the scenarios can be modified depending on the particular need. Our proposals can also serve as an inspiration and a starting point for anyone wishing to get involved. "
Over 400 teachers and some 4 000 students from 127 schools took part in the so-called ‘Strongest together!’ project. This much-needed initiative has made a substantial cross-border contribution in the fight against discrimination. It has also enhanced equal opportunities for disabled people by improving the understanding and acceptance of this marginalised group in both regions.
The project team firstly created a platform for the cross-border exchange of experiences between participating educators. This platform was important for increasing cooperation on both sides and resulted in new ideas and solutions to raise awareness among children and teachers of disabled people and their needs.
Workshops, education materials
In addition, three workshops were held and these aimed at producing education materials tailored to school children. On the basis of these workshops, each participating school ran their own small project on how to tackle problems related to disability in their own environment.
Some examples of such projects include a picnic on integration in Węgliniec, and an initiative in Piechowice, where students looked at local physical barriers facing disabled people before submitting a petition to the town’s mayor requesting a solution.
These workshops were complemented by various visits to Saxon schools and meetings between teachers on both sides of the border.
Spreading the message
In addition, a manual published both in German and Polish: ‘Strongest together - why and how we should talk about disability in schools’ - containing information on interacting with disabled people for teachers, therapists and parents – was disseminated widely.
This manual contained information about the ERDF-funded project, its methods, examples of small projects coming from local schools, a description of best practices from German schools, as well as a pedagogical article on the themes of inclusion and stigma management.
Suggested methods and techniques for encouraging children to integrate socially with disabled people were also introduced in school curricula.
Overall, the high quality and collaboration between partners – even after the programme had finished – was reported. The project is seen as a prime example of German-Polish collaboration in education and training.
Total investment and EU funding
Total investment for the “Strongest together!” project is EUR 530 878, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 445 567 from the Cross-border Operational Programme “Saxony- Poland” for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.
FundEuropean Regional Development Fund
Operational programmeOperational Programme 'Saxony'
Project duration09/2009 - 07/2012
Total InvestmentEUR 530 878
EU InvestmentEUR 445 567
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