The art of hope

Daily News Egypt
4 Min Read

Exhibition showcases work by children with special needs

Paintings, drawings, handmade accessories and toys created by children with special needs adorn the walls of Zamalek’s El-Sawy Culture Wheel. The exhibition titled “There’s Hope in Me features the work of 300 children with disabilities created with the help of volunteers and friends.

Some paintings show images of houses and trees scribbled on pieces of white paper, and other works burst with color, a free and surreal expression of emotions. It’s easy to see the effort and love they put into the finger puppets, the beads, the hand paintings and the smiling flowers.

The exhibition is a celebration of the abilities of children with special needs. We try to encourage children to express what they feel in drawings even if it does not make sense, said Ashraf Amin, founder of the Kids Fun Team, the driving force behind the exhibition.

It s an attempt to get people to understand that these children can actually be productive, explained Amin, hence the name “There’s Hope in Me.

Kids Fun Team is a group of 53 volunteers who donate their time, money and effort to entertain special needs children and draw attention to their cause.

It s exhausting work, said Nadia William, one of the volunteers, you have to have passion for this cause.

Besides working with children, the team performs short theatrical sketches that rely on music and catchy phrases. All of our sketches have a message, said Amin, they are not just for entertainment. The children actually respond to them.

I got to see the children’s enthusiastic reaction to one of the sketches at opening night last Saturday: They were clapping and dancing around to the music, and definitely enjoying themselves.

The team tries as much as possible to involve the children with special needs in activities and games with children their own age so they would get used to dealing with the outside world. One of the most moving parts of the exhibition are the touching quotes from children who work with their special needs friends. One quote reads, “They are just like my other friends. Another child says, “They are very sweet and gentle.

Ten percent of Egyptians are disabled in one manner or another, said Seham El-Wardagy, headmistress of Parents and Children Society that regularly collaborates with Kids Fun Team. [That is] 7 million people, not a small number, and society still does not know how to deal with them.

Amin agrees with her that even parents sometimes don t know how to deal with their disabled children – sometimes out of ignorance, other times out of shame.

Parents may feel embarrassed and may not want to acknowledge their child, explained El-Wardagy. While she understands their predicament, she stressed the importance of children with special needs to lead a normal social life.

The exhibition attempts to integrate special needs children into a society that still does not understand their potential. It will continue until July 29 with workshops for children with special needs every morning.

“There’s Hope in Me El-Sawy Culture CenterWord Hall9 am-8 pmExhibition runs through July 29

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