The two Argentinas

12th November 2004 at 00:00
Seven-year-old Edith Suarez, a pupil at a state school for the deaf in Buenos Aires, had a great time at the sports festival organised as part of the Dreams and Teams project.

"I played football and ran around a lot," she says. "I made many new friends."

Edith is one of 20 children from School Number 505 for the deaf and partially hearing in the poor neighbourhood of San Martin who attended the event.

Patricia Terranova, the head of School 505, which has 80 deaf and partially hearing children and only opened in April, says the festival was fantastic for her pupils because it gave them a chance to interact with children from other social backgrounds.

"All too often deaf children are trapped in a world only involving deaf people," she says.

Ernesto Cussianovich, the British Council's society manager in Buenos Aires, says it is this interaction that makes the Argentine Dreams and Teams project so innovative.

"I wanted to involve children from many backgrounds, including those with disabilities, and to use sports as the vehicle. We wanted to challenge stereotypes and felt sports was a great equaliser," he says.

The project has helped train around 60 children to become young leaders in Argentina and organised the exchange visit for four pupils from Southern Cross and River Plate to Manor school in September.

Gabriela Faccennini, an English teacher at Southern Cross, says: "Many of our pupils live in a bubble. They live in fenced-off communities and never come across children like the deaf ones they met. The festivals help open their eyes."

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