Camphill Academy, North America’s accredited training program in Curative Education and Social Therapy continues to develop as a leader in the field of holistic special education. We receive many requests to offer workshops beyond the main campus in Pennsylvania.
In January, Hannah Schwartz from Camphill Heartbeet in Vermont and Becky Rutherford from Camphill Special School in Pennsylvania traveled to Kuwait in the Arab Peninsula. Center 21, the initiative of Lamia and Nabil Nesser, is now a reality offering a day program for young adults with developmental delays. When Becky first taught in Kuwait in 2012, the center was still a dream. Now it offers recreation, remediation, and an active social life to around 40 people. Center 21 is housed in a beautiful, light filled villa surrounded by a green and shady garden- a rare thing in that part of the world! This is not an anthroposophical endeavor; however, the founders are committed to a holistic approach embedded in a philosophy of dignity for all human beings. Hannah and Becky worked directly with the participants demonstrating approaches and activities. A two hour workshop was provided each afternoon for the staff who are called Mentors. The Mentors are from many different Arab countries and North Africa. Most have degrees in related disciplines. Hannah taught an introduction to H.A.N.D.L.E., a sensory processing method which is integrated into daily life at Heartbeet. Becky continued this theme with an overview of Rudolf Steiner’s concept of the twelve senses. Sessions in felting and watercolor painting, movement and singing offered practical ways to support development through the arts.
We felt a deep sense of gratitude to be privileged to meet the warm hearted, gracious people who are so dedicated to their work. We strolled along the Persian Gulf- and incredible aquamarine color, ate delicious meals, and made people laugh with our approximations of Arabic phrases. One afternoon a carnival was planned as an outreach activity for the Center at a local park. The highlight was traditional Kuwaiti band planning and singing folk songs. These were accompanied with drums, the oud, and vigorous rhythmic clapping. Although it is traditionally only men who dance at these events, people were determined that we join in! We ate dates, drank sweet cardamom scented tea and enjoyed the famous Middle Eastern hospitality from everyone we met.
To be continued…
By Becky Rutherford, Camphill Special School teacher & Camphill Academy faculty member