PIONEER PROGRAM FOR CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES
Since its beginnings, SAT-7 KIDS has pioneered in quality Christian programming that both supports and challenges its young audience. Now, the team again shines a light on a topic rarely addressed by other broadcasters: children with physical and intellectual disabilities.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is home to millions of children with disabilities. Most parts of the region are not equipped to provide the services and facilities needed. They are left facing difficulties including rejection from educational institutions, inadequate health services, fewer employment opportunities, and problems accessing buildings and transportation.
Children with disabilities are disadvantaged by a lack of public awareness. The social stigma has marred the lives of thousands of families in the MENA. Parents feel unsure of how to help, experience feelings of shame, and even hide their children away.
A PROGRAM FOR ALL CHILDREN
Now, SAT-7 KIDS is taking another pioneering step. With the assistance and supervision of the NGO SETI-Caritas, the channel has produced a special program, City of the Stars, that addresses the issue of children with disabilities.
In City of the Stars, children visit a special city that is truly accessible to everyone. Inside the city, non-disabled children, children with disabilities, and parents learn how to cooperate and play together respectfully. The program uses a variety of tools to demonstrate that children with disabilities are valuable members of society, including drama, music, dancing, and games.
BENEFICIAL FOR ALL
The show’s inclusive approach benefits both the cast and crew. The young actors with disabilities gain confidence by meeting new people and experiencing new situations. The program is also educational for the other children, who learn how to interact with their peers with disabilities in a playful environment.
One of the show’s stars is 17-year-old Hanna, who has Down Syndrome. Hanna plays the ticket collector who welcomes children to the city, and she gradually grew in confidence as filming progressed. Before long, Hanna was helping children new to the set, guiding a young blind girl and learning sign language to communicate with children with hearing impairment.
BROADCASTING THE MESSAGE TO MILLIONS
The team hopes the show will help to positively shape societal attitudes towards people with disabilities. Janette Samir from SETI-Caritas says: “Our organisation serves a certain number of people in a specific area, but the media has a strong influence in society. SAT-7 broadcasts to a wider audience in the MENA, making it easier for our message of awareness and acceptance to be communicated to millions of homes.”