What issue are you trying to solve?
In Mali mentally disabled people live in exclusion. There are only a few initiatives addressing their well being. They are often denied health care and education. Initiatives and lobby for people living with handicaps are more often addressing the physically disabled people. Therefore, the mentally affected people, starting with the kids, are even more excluded in the Malian society. Issue 1 to solve is special education and fulfilment for these special kids.
The public does not know about the potential and possibilities of these special kids. Since they are excluded in society, they are not visible and ignored in society and often even suffer violence and aggression with no one standing up for them. Issue 2 is to use the Arts to educate the public about these kids and their rights, through presenting their lives, dreams and abilities.
Issue 3 is making them visible for influencing purposes. Special kids have special needs and their basic rights need to be defended and addressed.
What approach do you take to solve this issue?
Groupe Agoratoire is a Cultural Association composed of mainly Slam Poetry and Visual Artists with a Social Mission for Inclusion. We are a youth-led organisation using the Arts to express themselves and to give the vulnerable people a voice about Mali’s multiple challenges. They teach youth how to stand up and speak out.
For some years now we have been using Arts to work with youth with mental disabilities. We organise “open door-sessions” to show the parents and public the artistic result of working with the special kids. The “In the Picture” – project will follow 3 kids and artists in their artistic journey in a “Reality Show” type of format. Groupe Agoratoire has won the trust of parents and institutions already and will respectfully make a reality series with some chosen youths. The series will be shown on TV and used in debate sessions. Both producing a reality show and doing arts and working with special kids are innovative approaches in Mali and Agoratoire is a pioneer.
What is the potential impact of your initiative?
The impact is that the initiative leads to more understanding and lobbies for better access to social services, special education and special health services and human rights in general.
- impact 1: at the level of the Special needs youth: they will enjoy the artistic activities, they will gain pride and confidence, they will be proud of the Art they produce and their participation in the TV show.
- impact 2: at the level of the public: they will see the special kids and youth as human beings with rights; they will be educated about their potential and they will be willing to defend those rights.
- impact 3: at the level of the artists: they will become teachers and advocates for Inclusion, even more than what they are doing already now. As young artists and youth of Mali they are reinforced in their role of changemakers for Mali and to develop advocacy skills through the arts. They are the pioneers of working with mentally disabled youth and will be teaching others.