A Walk in Ubud, Bali
There is a soccer field between Monkey Forest & Hanuman Streets in Ubud. Children play happily barefooted on a sparse green grass field, with rusted goal posts. The field is surrounded by a variety of shops & restaurants. A large painted picture of a child with wings is painted on one of the stucco buildings with the words Mentally Disabled towering above the child’s out-stretched arms. As you approach the building another picture of the Winged Boy is positioned over the entrance way saying “Not less, but differently gifted”.
I couldn’t pass by without peeking in. I walked through the open doors & new I was in a center for children with special needs. “Heh, Karen Kaplan, What are you doing here in Bali? Came a voice. The second connection, BINGO. The voice came from an Occupational Therapist colleague I had just met in California weeks before. What are the chances I would fly to Indonesia & meet a colleague?
Sjakitarius was the second center I would observe, connect & learn about. They served mostly children with Downs Syndrome but I had the pleasure of meeting a few kiddos with Autism & Cerebral Palsy at the center. The children were organized into classrooms & participated in table top activities, physical & art activities & enjoyed music & lunch time at the center. Older students also helped in the kitchen/restaurant that served the public on the patio of the center.
Sjakitarius was founded by a mom with a daughter with Downs Syndrome from Holland. The center however was directed by a young Indonesian women with a passion to help & make a difference. Volunteers from Holland joined each year to help the center grow & expand their knowledge.
After connecting to the founder, I was asked to return the next year to connect & share with the team at Sjakitarius. They were interested in learning how to use Music Therapy to help teach their students. They were also interested in knowing what additional programing could be offered to older students at the center. The team at Sjakitarius then joined the collaborative group workshops at YPK.