Candela has spastic cerebral palsy and is in 4th grade. year in a common school; thanks to the help of your teachers you can continue studying in quarantine Credit: Kindness

Like most teenagers, Candela likes spending time with friends, leaving her home, and playing online games, and like the rest of the boys and girls, this 18-year-old girl in her forties unexpectedly changed her routine. . However, for her this whole process was a little more difficult: have spastic cerebral palsy, without the possibility of controlling their joints and poor vision, that is why their educational continuity was more complicated. But thanks to the help of their teachers, He was able to continue taking his 4th video calls. high school year so far with very good results.

Candela and her family are from Corrientes, they live in the Ongay neighborhood, a very vulnerable area of ​​the Corrientes capital, two blocks from the Fe y Alegría Institute, where she studies and her three older brothers did. When she entered 1st grade, it was something new for everyone, because she was the first student with a disability to attend that school. Today, is fully included, she learns and feels happy, although she misses face-to-face classes. You receive the supports you need, and when you finish your studies you will have your degree on an equal footing with the rest of the students. “People like me often do not dare to take the step of going to a common school, there is a lot of fear of bullying and suffering discrimination”says the young woman. According to data from the Ministry of Education, from 2003 to 2017, the number of girls, boys and adolescents with disabilities studying in common schools grew four times: it went from 21,704 to 90,345 in that period.

In her free time, and now that winter break has begun, Candela takes the opportunity to listen to Daddy Yankee; play FreeFire, a virtual game where you connect with other people online; and also help mom and grandma with the use of technology. But she laments the lack of football, she is a fan of Boca. Candela can communicate through speech, but since she cannot move her joints, teverything he does through gestures he makes with his eyes or nose. Margarita, her mother, emphasizes that her only handicap is physical and that being “talkative” helped her to be independent. And Oscar Ayala, her Mathematics teacher and one of those who teach her at a distance, highlights that she is very intelligent. Therefore, Candela dreams of continuing studying and says that she wants to be a psychologist. Her great wish is “to help people like her”. She wants to follow in the footsteps of a psychology professional who assisted her as a child and aroused great admiration in her.


Mathematics teacher Oscar Ayala, preparing the virtual classes for Candela.
Mathematics teacher Oscar Ayala, preparing the virtual classes for Candela. Credit: Kindness

At the beginning it was quite a challenge. Before this isolation, twice a week she was accompanied by an integrative teacher in the classroom. In addition, Oscar explains that “no teacher was prepared to educate at a distance”, especially, taking into account the uniqueness of each boy or girl. “When defining the teaching strategy, she is a student like everyone else, the difference is that she cannot write so everything must be done orally”, details the teacher. In addition, as Candela has a visual impairment, since in one eye she lost almost all vision, she requires short, precise and large print slogans, which facilitate her compression.

Oscar struggled to have the possibility of giving her virtual classes where she can solve all her doubts, since she knew that perhaps her family did not have the possibility to guide her. The teacher put together a space in his house with a blackboard, as if it were a small classroom, so that once a week he could virtually meet Candela and explain the subject. For the teacher, having Candela as a student made him “grow as a person, be a better human being and a better professional”. And he adds: “Candela transmits beautiful energy”.


Candela goes to the Fe y Alegría Institute in Corrientes from 1st grade.
Candela goes to the Fe y Alegría Institute in Corrientes from 1st grade. Credit: Kindness

Fe y Alegría is an organization that offers transformation options through education. Since 1995 they are in Argentina, they were growing and they are in various provinces such as Salta, Chaco, San Juan and Corrientes, where Candela attends. There, on the land of an old pasture, the educational center was formed, which contains primary, secondary, adult schools, workshops for all ages and also trades. Today it has in the country with more than 6000 students from vulnerable contexts in five provinces.

Margarita is grateful that Candela never suffered discrimination at school, but in her role as mother it was difficult for her to accept that she was not going to be able to walk and recognizes that there are many prejudices around disability. “My daughter was born at 29 weeks gestation of a twin pregnancy, of which only she saw the light. At 8 months of life she still did not hold her head or sit. Only then did they discover her cerebral palsy,” says Margarita. Her message to mothers who are going through the same situation as her is to accompany their children, to be attentive to their needs and to always think about moving forward.

For more information, go to Fe y Alegría.

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