In winter 2010 the kids animation studio “Here we are!” was founded by volunteers in Minsk. It united people of different professions, who aim at helping children with mental and physical disabilities find ways of self-expression and enhance their socialization process. Whereas “normal” kids in the studio in equal measure with studying animation techniques learn to be tolerant and communicate with “special” children.
About the Studio
The classes of this hobby group are based on the principle of integrated classes: mentally and physically challenged children create cartoons together with their “normal” peers. Adults only help them. The kids study animation, explore the world around them and enjoy every moment of life. New bright works are added to the studio’s portfolio all the time.
Making their animated cartoons, the children use pencil and pastel drawings, cutouts, plasticine figurines, beads and other materials they have at hand, such as foil and cotton wool. As a result, they get amazing short (about a minute or two) and full-length stories. They are colorful, touching, true, naïve and pure, as the children themselves.
“Here we are and we are together” is a joint project of “Unihelp”, St Elisabeth Convent and the Psychoneurological orphanage (Novinky). The classes of the hobby group take place in the territories of the Republican Scientific-Practical Center of Children Oncology and Hematology (Borovlyany) and the Psychoneurological orphanage (Novinky).
About the Kids
The studio helps people with special needs become integrated into the society and perceive the world around them. Boys and girls from the boarding home for mentally and physically challenged children live in an enclosed space and get very little social experience from the outside.
As far as the “normal” children are concerned, they usually don’t communicate with “special” people, as their parents hedge the kids from everything beyond the norm.
Working at their cartoons, the children though being different understand each other, find a common language, become friends and develop their talents together. Each “meeting” is more than creating cartoon characters and sceneries, shooting and voice-work. It is composed of musical and theater classes, receiving guests and the joy of making friends. It is easy to study in such a heart-warming atmosphere! And the “special” kids do study. They learn to do things that seem so simple to us, but are a considerable progress in their development, a big step forward.
The children with mental and physical disabilities, who need special sympathy and care, get distracted from their everyday reality, and express their fantasies in wonderful cartoons of their own production. The “normal” kids learn to empathize with and “accept” special children. Through this our society besides getting an experience of communication with “special” people, learns the lessons of mercy and compassion. It learns not to ignore such children, neither to avoid nor to pity them, but to turn the compassion into something more productive, such as real help and cooperation.