The day-care center Grădinița Malteză, a project from Serviciul de Ajutor Maltez în România, welcomes children with disabilities. In here I developed my professional project that implies practicing sports with the children, for their well being. On the 29th of November I spent for the first time an afternoon with the children, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. I was a little nervous before we started because I had never worked with young children with disabilities, my experience until now being only with teenagers with disabilities. I’m not really a confident person, because of the fact that I don’t have a lot of experience with small children, but I believe it’s very interesting for me to learn what we can do together and how I can help them.
I was received with a very warm welcome, I talked a little bit with my colleagues and afterwards I went to change my clothes, because it is important, as a hygiene rule, that we wear clean clothes when we start the activities. After this practical step, my colleagues accompanied me to meet the kids and shared with me the various difficulties that can appear so that I can be prepared and be able to get the most from my activities. The children were enthusiastic when they met me, which made me very happy and this quickly motivated me and helped me adapt with no problem.
It did not take long for me to adapt and I didn’t encounter any difficulties, even if the children have not met me before and they had to get used to a new person. I showed them that I was there for them, because I wanted for us to play together and help them. Having them to trust me was an important step before I started my activities.
I did not focus on a specific activity. I saw that the children were interested in playing the “electric train”, the “car”, etc., so we gathered around and we played the game each child chose. Like for example with a little boy who wanted to play the “electric train”. He found it to be very amusing because we had to cross the room and he could choose which direction he wanted to take. A second example was a game with a handkerchief. I played it with a little girl and each one of us had to hold one side of the handkerchief. We ran and turned in circles holding the handkerchief during all this time and, even though she cannot speak, her joy and happiness were not difficult to observe and this made me very happy as well. Another example would be that of a little girl who has difficulties in walking, but whose desire to walk is extraordinary. I helped her walk around the room and she was also very pleased by my help.
I think it is very interesting to participate in “individual games” with these children because it allows you to observe their abilities, and it’s easier to understand their difficulties. This is of great help to me because by knowing what they can and cannot do I am able to better select and prepare my activities with them. The more time I spent with them, the more I learned about them and their abilities.
At the end of the day some of the children went home in special cars, while the others were accompanied by their parents. The children began to leave the association around 3:30 p.m.
My first afternoon in the association was very well spent and I must say I encountered no difficulties. The children also seemed happy of my presence, which makes me happy. This was only the beginning, because there are many more visits to plan, which will take place in the afternoon as well as in the morning. This makes my future visits much more interesting, because this way I get to work with different children and, implicitly, with different working plans.