After Georgia declared its independence in 1991, political unrest led to a lengthy civil war and widespread inter-ethnic violence. Many displaced families live in very basic settlements around Tbilisi and elsewhere to this day. Stigma has historically prevented disabled children accessing education, and poverty - with attendant emotional distress, physical and mental health problems - is a fact of life for many. We have been asked by those who work with children and adults with disabilities to help them improve the opportunities available to them.
Impact and Activites to date
Our first project in Georgia took us to a Special School in Tbilisi in 2011. Since then we have returned to support the staff we trained and enable teams of staff in another Special School and a Day Centre to use music with the children and adults with disabilities in their care. To date, our projects have seen 16 staff skilled and equipped to run music sessions themselves in 3 care settings: two special schools and the Parents’ Bridge Day Centre for children and adults with disabilities. 72 children and adults participated in music sessions during the project and 380 children and adults have subsequently benefited as the local staff develop their music programmes.
In response to requests from new staff at Public School #200, #198 and the Parent’s Bridge Centre to receive introductory music as therapy training, and interest from other schools and centres in Tbilisi, our Local Partners asked how they might become trainers themselves. In 2016 we delivered a structured Training for Trainers project which helped to build local capacity and enable our Local Partners to respond themselves to the interest in music therapy with continued support from us. To read more about this recent training click here to read the full report.
Additionally, we have been pleased to support the head teacher of one of our partner schools who is working to have Music as Therapy included in the National Curriculum, strengthening the schools' ability to sustain their music programme. We have created a summary of the international research which evidences why and how music therapy works to help her efforts to secure local strategic support for music therapy.
In 2018, we returned to Georgia to offer our Local Partners, at Public School #200, #198 and the Parent’s Bridge Centre, support in continuing and developing their work with music. The observed sessions our Local Partners ran were very impressive and evidenced strong understanding of music therapy concepts, supported by significant musicianship and warmth. We were also delighted to have the enthusiastic support for our #MusicCan Campaign from all the workshop participants.
Whilst in Georgia, we also had the opportunity to discuss the development of the newly opened Music Therapy Centre, which is the initiative of one of our partners, Teona Kacheishvili. Teona and her staff believe one of the biggest challenges facing the Music Therapy Centre is the lack of recognition for music therapy practice in Georgia. Thus, we shared lessons learned and strategies from elsewhere in the world to assist with this pioneering development in Georgia's music therapy practice.
“It is much easier for the children with disabilities to communicate using music. I have observed progress in each beneficiary and they are more social, patient and joyful. For me personally, the structure of the sessions has been well developed and is perfectly suitable for autistic children too”.
“It is such a huge support for us when you come to visit. Given that awareness of this field is quite low in Georgia, outside support is so important.”
“We consider our confidence has increased through these meetings and trainings. It gave us motivation.”
We are excited to be returning to Georgia in 2019 to attend the very first Music Therapy Conference organised by the Music Therapy Centre in Tiblisi, which will be held on World Music Therapy Day (1st March). Alongside our Local Partners, we have been supporting the planning of the conference and helped with publicising the event.