First “Social Circus” conference in Palestine to promote equal rights and community inclusion

In September, the Palestinian Circus School, in cooperation with Medical Aid or Palestinians (MAP), has hosted a first-of-its-kind virtual international conference, “The Social Circus: Promoting Equal Rights and Community Inclusion". The conference shed light on how circus activities can promote social development and empower people in their communities in Palestine and around the world.

The Palestinian Circus School brings circus skills to more than 300 children and youth in the West Bank, including people with learning disabilities (referred to as “intellectual disabilities” outside the UK). MAP’s partnership with the Palestinian Circus School supports young people, including those with disabilities, to change practices and challenge public perceptions of disability. By integrating people with learning disabilities, the Circus School is promoting the rights of people with disabilities to full inclusion and participation in society. The School also helps increase participants’ physical exercise and activities in support of their overall physical, mental and social wellbeing.

At the conference, the Palestinian Circus School shared their experiences in integrating children with disabilities into these vital activities. 

Mohammed Rabah, Director of the Palestinian Circus School said: “When our students come together, they create such an incredible energy of positivity and hope. I hope this conference can help inspire people, organisations and communities across Palestine and further afield to see the importance and huge societal benefits of an inclusive approach.”

One of the talks focused on the successes and learnings from the school’s first circus performance of traditional Palestinian “dabke” dancing mixed with classic circus skills by 10 young Palestinian performers, half of them with learning disabilities. The project aims to enhance the integration of people with disabilities in Palestinian society through art and culture, helping them to develop self-respect, tolerance, social responsibility and self-confidence.

The conference, originally planned to take place in Ramallah but moved online due to COVID-19, also included speakers from Italy, Afghanistan and Finland discussing global papers on the concept of “social circus” and its role in promoting equality and integration.

Below is a recording of the conference, including some talks in English:

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