The Malta Independent 22 July 2019, Monday

Closure of a successful collaboration benefiting parents

Tuesday, 9 July 2019, 12:45 Last update: about 13 days ago

The final conference of The Family Education Programme for Parents of Disabled Students (FEPDIS) was held recently in Malta to mark the successful completion of a programme which saw the collaboration of IFT- Malta and Paragon Europe on a local and European level.

FEPDIS, a programme co-funded by the Erasmus + Programme of the European Union, kicked off in September 2016 and involved six partners, namely Paragon Europe - Malta , Konya Provincial Directorate of National Education - Turkey, KTO Karatay University, Turkey, Ayuntamiento de Ibi - Spain, Sosu Aarhus - Denmark, and Masarykova Univerzita - Czech Republic.  The Institute of Family Therapy - Malta (IFT - Malta) developed the basic training programme offered to families and parents of disabled students held in Malta. This phase of the programme saw two local implementations, one held in April 2018, the other held on March 2019.

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During the final conference, Ms Laura Trevisan from Paragon Europe spoke of the entire experience and of the invaluable work carried out by the partners and by IFT-Malta representatives who attended meetings and related activities held between trainers who met in Turkey and in the Czech Republic. Charlene Borg from IFT-Malta spoke of her experience in the preparation and implementation of activities held with parents, and of the outcomes of these events. She referred to the challenges faced by parents who have to come to terms with raising a child with a disability, learning to cope with very unique life cycle steps, being aware of the risks and regulating the extent of protection meted out to their children whilst keeping abreast with developments and learning skills.

Dr Charlie Azzopardi from IFT-Malta referred to the fact that all parents face difficulties and that some children may have visible disabilities while others may have disabilities which are not visible. He acknowledged the fact that parenting in general, has become increasingly complicated and challenging in today's world. Dr Azzopardi bemoaned the fact that although there was widespread publicity given to the free activities offered by this programme to parents of disabled students on a local basis, the turnout was not as numerous as one would have expected. He voiced hope that the next step could be the implementation of a project on a national scale so to reach out to all parents of disabled students.

Some parents attending the event gave their own comments on the experience, namely voicing appreciation of the solidarity shown between parents. One parent referred to the vacuum felt after the diagnosis of a child's disability. Another parent also spoke of the concerns related to the hardship of making ends meet in order to cope with the exceptional circumstances of a disability and how, at this point in time, one should look beyond the issue of accessibility and touch upon other issues which are just as important. One parent expressed the reluctance of approaching services in fear of attaching a label to a child who is already struggling to cope with disability difficulties.


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