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VIDEO: Palestinian disabled children learn circus skills

Palestinian children from Ramallah improve their confidence and are given creative opportunities in 'Star Mountain' school
Palestine Circus School (Screenshot/ MEE)

Next to the Latin Church in Birzeit, the Palestinian Circus School emits shrieks of laughter from its morning classes. Trainers conduct circus skills classes with children inside the circus tent, preparing the next generation of performers. 

Disabled children from Star Mountain school “can’t wait for Thursday when they can come here,” explains their teacher, “they really like the activities that they do here." 
 
 
The classes have helped to improve the children’s confidence and introduce them to physically creative activities. 
 
Through the circus’ productions, the school aims to "instil hope among the population, promote the freedom of expression and raise local and international awareness about Palestinian arts and the many challenges of the Palestinian society." 
 
The school's deputy general director, Jessika, says the school is "working on the very long term to create a real curriculum for inclusive circus pedagogics." 
 
Shadi, the school’s director, explains some Palestinians’ view of people with mental disabilities. “This group is hidden completely. You go to a house and say 'How many kids are in the house?' and they tell you, 'Six.' But no, there are seven because they don’t count the mentally handicapped person." 
 
The children from the Star Mountain school giggle as they chase each other and then gingerly climb onto the trapeze. 
 
“I look forward to seeing then on stage with professional productions where people start to look up to them,” says Shadi, "and not the other way around."