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DP student helps children get prosthetic arms

DP student Imran Kaliyev at Miras International School Astana Kazakhstan

A CAS project in Kazakhstan is empowering children with disabilities

Imran Kaliyev is helping children with disabilities feel like superheroes. As part of his creativity, activity, service (CAS) project, he is working with a company that makes prostheses that are personalized to meet the needs of individuals. “One child asked me to create an arm of ‘Iron Man’,” he says.

Elvira Sarsenova, CAS Coordinator at Miras International School, Astana, Kazakhstan, where Kaliyev is a Diploma Programme (DP) student, says: “This design, in particular, demonstrates how stereotypes about disability can be challenged and children empowered.

“Children with disabilities in Kazakhstan cope with not only the dual challenges of poverty and disability but also prejudice and social misconceptions. The first feeling that people tend to experience when they see a child with disabilities is pity and compassion. Such attitudes may have an adverse effect on children’s confidence and behaviour. This project aims to address the psychological and social aspects of living with a disability, as well as give physical support—encouraging and empowering children to live full and satisfying lives,” says Sarsenova.

Russian company Motorica provides mechanical prostheses for children with disabilities from low-income families. Children and their families from all over Kazakhstan are invited to Astana; their travel costs are covered, and they are supported in the process of learning to use the prostheses.

DP student Imran Kaliyev at Miras International School Astana Kazakhstan

Imran says: “I meet with these children on a regular basis to develop a relationship with them and understand the difficulties they face. I discuss the possibilities available and work as a middleman between the family and Motorica to get the prosthetic arm to the child and train him or her to use it.”

It has been a rewarding experience for Imran. “I have grown socially and mentally. I have developed skills like cooperation, problem-solving and conflict resolution. This project required setting challenging goals, commitment and perseverance. I feel a sense of accomplishment that I am able to make a big difference in the lives of all those children, who were not able to work with hands before, but the prostheses made it possible. The project made me understand my strengths and weaknesses. At the same time, I developed my creativity by designing prosthetic arms according to children’s suggestions or preferences. I have also gained many entrepreneurial skills, which will help me run a business as a future career.”

He adds: “So far, the project has seen positive results: one first-grade student has enrolled in school with success; another child has adjusted to his prosthesis so well that he has enjoyed learning dramatic arts and has performed on stage­—acting and dancing.”