Teach children what they’ve taught us
28 July 2020
On 21 March, to mark World Down Syndrome Day, the Naked Heart premiered a short film* about the influence of adults on children’s attitudes towards peers with special needs.
The creator and director is Maksim Kolyshev, chief creative officer is Artem Sinyavskiy and the video was produced by creative agency Marvelous and Grandma Production and filmed at GastroFerma market in Moscow.
As children grow up, their opinions are shaped by adults and society at large, which often encourage certain attitudes towards people with disabilities. The stigmatization of people with mental disabilities such as Down syndrome and autism is especially common. According to research commissioned by the Foundation**, the majority of people in Russia do not engage with issues faced by those with special needs – only 7% are prepared to help families raising children and young people with mental disabilities and more than 50% think that kids with Down syndrome and developmental delay should be educated at home or in special institutions, rather than together with their typically developing peers. These attitudes are undoubtedly passed on to children at some point during childhood, thus affecting the way they behave towards their peers with special needs.
By the time they start school, children are already starting to adopt the behaviours and views of the adults around them. However, preschool children do not notice disabilities and are naturally accepting of people who are different to them. Therefore, to ensure that society becomes more inclusive, parents should explain to their children that all people are equal, have equal rights and should play a full part in society, irrespective of their mental or physical abilities.
“Children learn by example and we can set them a positive one! Let your children play, learn and laugh with all their peers, whether special needs or typically developing, and see there is more that unites us than divides us. Let them ask questions about mental and physical disability and be prepared to speak to them about special needs without making this a “difficult” subject. Teach children what they’ve taught us.” – Natalia Vodianova, founder of the Naked Heart Foundation
This short film is part of the Foundation’s wider advocacy effort to raise awareness among society in order to change attitudes towards people with mental and physical disabilities and their families.
The Naked Heart Foundation would like to thank creator and director Maksim Kolyshev, chief creative officer Artem Sinyavskiy, creative agency Marvelous, Grandma Production, Ekaterina Khrustaleva, Aleksandr Kuznetsov, GastroFerma, composer Konstantin Maltsev and all of the actors, parents and volunteers involved in creating the film.
*The film depicts the conditions of a typical social experiment of its type, however should not itself be viewed as scientific research. Findings of research on children’s attitudes towards peers with disabilities and their associations with personal and parental factors are widely available.
**Study carried out by independent research agency O+K Research in Russia in March 2018