Lifelong Learning Programme

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Training > Experiences

Personal Experience

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Personal experience as a trainer

Language: English
Country: Italy
Typology: patients and relatives
When everything started, in 1995, I had retired for one year, I had just moved and I " was looking for myself" (it's a fashionable expression!): I started to attend German and Psychological classes, Yoga and at the same time I decided to spend some of my free time to spread the culture of handicap. At that time my daughter Valeria, who is affected by spastic tetraplegia, was fifteen and attended the second year of Liceo Classico. I got in touch with The Board for Integration, I met Riziero and Augusta. One day, when I was in a secondary school in Caluso, near Turin, a thin fourteen year-old boy asked me: "If you had known to have a handicapped child, would you have had a miscarriage?”. After this question, I needed some minutes to recover myself and, at the same time, I wondered what I was doing there and why. But eight years have gone by and I keep on going everywhere I am invited to talk about Valeria and my personal experience as a more or less satisfied parent. At the beginning, I thought my task was to inform people about the life of a "differently able", i.e. a person who can be able in some fields better than a "normal", and, in particular, to avoid prejudices. Today what I have most at heart is to pass on messages and emotion that lead people to think over the conditions of the "differently able" people. This is what the training consists of: trying to let other people know some moments of our lives in order to start a communication between them and us, so that they can understand what we are living. It has happened to me to talk in front of various kinds of people, students, teachers, doctors, with some friends in a pub, meetings, parents, and it is always a different experience. Personally, I prefer to meet young people and students, maybe for their freshness and vitality and because I would avoid young "differently capable" people problems and sufferings. During all these years of talking in front of students (in particular students from fourteen to nineteen years old) the questions they have asked are varied, but what is striking is their wish to know, for example, whether Valeria has ever fallen in love and what I think about that. I remember in particular a girl who, during a meeting at university, asked me if I could damage her privacy talking about her in front of everybody. During another convention, I knew two girls who became my friends and then met my daughter, now they have a really nice friendship. The relationship between the teachers and us is different, sometimes it is tiring, especially when the handicapped student is considered an extra work and a source of problems. It is my task to let them understand that also a handicapped student has the right to be educated and sometimes studying can be a means by which he can consider himself similar to the others. During all these years, I have faced many situations and tried to answer many questions. But the best answer I think consists of a correct and positive attitude, I must always be as I really am and never be afraid of showing what I am not. I always claim the right to be a mother and what I want people to know is that I do not think to be a special mother, but just one who is living a particular situation and wants to tell it to the others so that they can understand. There is a special relationship with other parents and it is made up of comprehension and complicity. When I take part in a meeting, I am sure to have other parents, specially mothers, at my side. During these years, these people have become an essential part of my life and I know they always understand me and vice-versa. In my opinion to be a trainer means this too, that is to share pains and joys with the others.

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