Service Programs

Gifts and Songs for Beirut Children with Special Needs

Whereas integration of children with special needs into society has improved over the years, it is still a pioneering task to make sure that mentally disadvantaged children receive more respectful, positive attention. A group of 30 students, ages 11 to 13, from Aksar Kassardjian School — a school affiliated with the Armenian-Lebanese community — chose this task for their participation in the Lebanon Youth Service Weekend on November 14, 2008 that is part of the Global Peace Festival-Lebanon.


The students came to the Zvartnots Center in the Beirut neighborhood of Mar Mikael on a school bus, accompanied by two or three teachers. The kids brought cakes with them. They were greeted by Arexy Dabaghian, the center’s director. She welcomed the volunteers and gave them an introduction about the center, which provides five levels, or classes, and places students according to their IQ, not their age.

There are about 40 persons enrolled at the center for developing their skills, ranging from ages 6 to 45. They have access to education and medical programs, including doctors, speech and physical therapists, psychologists, and special care for epileptic students. Students attend every day from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm and learn handcrafts such as art work and clay modeling. Every December they have a bazaar where they sell the crafts they make.

Mrs. Araxy introduced eight students who were in the room. The kids asked questions and started interacting with the handicapped students. Then the whole group went outside and some of them started picking fruit together. The volunteers next started to sing Armenian songs, and some of the handicapped students joined in.

"This was a nice part, with a lively atmosphere," reported one Ambassador for Peace who was serving as a Project Monitor. "As some of the boys from both schools started to play football together, I had a chance to talk to the director a little bit more. She feels that awareness is very important, especially the way other people treat her students when they’re outside. She was very happy with the project today."



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