Playing With & For The Community
It was inspiring to see how these organizations strive to make the Singapore community a more inclusive one in terms assimilating the disabled into the mainstream society. They were determined to prove that these groups of people are just as productive and capable.
Incorporating art, specifically drama, into the education curriculum for kids with down syndrome proved to aid in their overall development. The programs constructed are multidisciplinary, drawing elements from music, the performance arts such as singing, doing roleplay, reciting and writing poetry, and storytelling, and the visual arts such as drawing. This approach aids tremendously in the development of their body and speech. Arts, being naturally receptive of the freedom of expression, help these children communicate themselves to society without having to lose their self-esteem. It also helps improve their literacy and speech, overall working towards their achieving independence.
These programs involved a lot of trial and error; it was like being a parent for the very first time – you learn along the way, overcoming the trials and tribulations as they come along. Most importantly is to acknowledge and observe what these children can do MORE as compared to what they can do less, and then build on it.
“The Earth without art is just eh.”
Is the child or the curriculum disabled? This is the question that Ranae Lee posed as she works to make art sustainable within the constraints of the school. Their involvement in drama, music, visual arts, and dance, helps in their development of skill and expression. At the same time, the arts allow these disabled individuals to engage in forms of communication and socialization as it generates expression and response.
Partnerships are essential as it requires the expertise to establish a suitable curriculum for the disabled children. Specific needs definitely calls for a specific approach; however working holistically would hopefully promote a more inclusive society, such that the disabled individuals would be able to assimilate more seamlessly into mainstream cultures.
It was also inspiring to see how driven these organizations are. They strive to enable children and empower their families. Through the arts, they teach attributes, expression, social skills and awareness of the environment. Their strategy is to essentially engage and interest the individual, expose and allow experiences to unfold, explore new boundaries to seek new possibilities and last but not least, educate and empower them with knowledge.
But don’t be mistaken, art in this case is by no means something prescriptive for these individuals; rather it is used as a more creative form of self-expression. These organizations work to continue to build a more inclusive society, where everyone belongs together, and the arts is indeed something most shared among us.