Creativity and Human Rights
Therapy, Education and Play
REPORT ON THE CONFERENCE
27th – 28th of March 2003
Introduction and background
The first national conference with international participation
“Creativity and Human Rights in Therapy, Education and Play”
was held on 27/28 March 2003, In Bacau, at the County History Museum.
The conference was organized by FUNDATIA DE SPRIJIN COMUNITAR (FSC)
The funders and collaborators were the EU Phare Access Programme,
Relief Fund for Romania and Muzika Charitable Trust.
The mission statement of the conference was “ To improve
the quality of life for institutionalised children and adults, their
carers and families, to change mentalities and attitudes.”
FSC have a ten year history of delivering Arts Therapy for the Disabled
to children and adults with special needs known as IMPART project.
Impart have delivered training programmes in institutions throughout
Bacau and neighbouring counties. FSC and Relief Fund for Romania
arranged the conference in response to their many concerns in this
- The neglect of the needs and human rights of people with disabilities
in institutions and the community
- The isolation and lack of training of care workers
- The lack of suitable training opportunities
- The absence of accreditation for existing training initiatives
- The current reforms leading to institution closure and rapid displacement
of long-term institutionalized residents into the community
- No plan for an integrated approach by NGO’s working in the
- The accreditation of therapy in Romania as a profession
- The need to change mentalities and attitudes towards children
and adults with special needs
- The lack of cooperation and collaboration, the need to share information
A total of 380 people registered from which were selected 250,
representing 108 institutions and NGOs. The participants represented
53 Romanian NGOs, 41 state institutions and 14 foreign NGOs.
The large number of people that registered showed the increase
interest of the audience in this field and the need for such information.
1. The Venue
The County History Museum is a large, modern building in the centre
of Bacau. We very much regretted that the only available central
venue that was large enough for our needs was on the third floor
and difficult to access by people with disability. Simultaneous
translation Romanian/English was available via the sound system.
2. Reception and registration
Those who arrived on the 26th (110) were welcomed by the organizers
with a reception at the Hotel Moldova where accommodation was arranged.
Each participant was given a conference folder, an IMPART manual
and registered for the next day and was explained about the venue.
The reception was also a social event where people had a chance
to mix and find out about the different initiatives that are going
on in this field.
3. Day 1 - 26th March 2003
233 participants were registered for the first day.
Opening and Introduction
Speakers on the first day
Gabriela Achihai President of FSC
Catalin Mardare Prefect of Bacau
Dr Sue Jennings Dramatherapist
Lenuta Nastac Coordinator of the IMPART programme
Mary Turner Artistic director from Action Space Mobile, UK
Doina Pocioianu Director of the Art Therapy Centre, Timisoara
Prof. Vlad Enachescu Bucharest University
Janet Sparkes Muzika Charitable Trust, UK
Emma Goldblatt Music as Therapy, UK
Simonetta Fanelli Gloria Network, Italy
The conference was opened by Gabi Achihai, President of FSC and
the prefect of Bacau, Mr Catalin Mardare.
Gabriela Achihai referred to the mission of the conference and
expected outcomes, she also introduced house keeping rules and continued
to moderate the first half of the day.
Mr Mardare had experience some years ago of working with an NGO
in an institution for adults with severe learning difficulties.
He acknowledged the difficulties Romanian had had with such large
numbers of children and adults locked away in institutions.
His opening address and remarks on the contribution of the non
governmental organisations that support the state institutions,
especially Community Support Foundation Bacau, the initiative and
great results obtained in time with the beneficiaries – the
disadvantaged persons, were therefore particularly appreciated.
The keynote speaker, Dr Sue Jennings is an author,
teacher and drama therapist with many years experience of Romania
especially with children with disabilities and adults with mental
ill health. She has published over a dozen books on her specialty.
Dr Jennings spoke of the importance of creativity throughout life,
starting with early play experiences.
Her speech focused on creativity in a child’s life, support
of the parents of children with special needs and the various ways
of networking in this field.
She then opened the series of panelists and interventions from
the audience. She used many examples from Romania and abroad, referred
to good models and practices and emphasized the importance of INCLUSIVITY
as the route for Romania's people with special needs to aim to be
accepted in a society based on reforms, changes and limited services.
Lenuta Nastac offered a vivid introduction on
the general context, the history and the development of FSC’s
Impart programme which delivers Arts Therapy for the Disabled in child and
adult institutions in the NE of Romania.
Arts as Creative Activity and Arts as Therapy
This session introduced the idea that arts can be used to stimulate
the creativity and development of people with special needs.
Mary Turner- Artistic Director of Action Space
Mobile-a UK charitable organisation has over 10 years experience
in working and training with Romanian institutions and organisations
and over 30 years experience in working with special needs in UK.
Her speech was about visual arts that can offer a way for communication,
building of self confidence and esteem for people with special needs.
Doina Pocioianu, director of the Art Therapy Centre
Timisoara presented a study on the effects of combined art therapy
in the development of children with special needs. The study offered
special measurement tools and statistics on groups of beneficiaries.
She also presented a video on work performed in Timisoara centre.
Unfortunately professor Vlad Enachescu from Bucharest
University did not attend and did not send a replacement to the
conference which was a disappointment as the view of the university
and teaching side would have been appreciated.
Debate on Special Needs Issues and Human Rights
Professor Rusu of Prohumanitas University and
Printing House was unable to attend and sent Professor Stefan
Baisan from Suceava who unfortunately was not able to introduce
the debate on conceptual discriminations as planned.
The participants were split into 5 discussion groups on themes
like: the perception of disability, the status of the person with
disabilities, institutionalisation, future plans and hope for the
future for the person with disabilities, human rights and the rights
of the children.
The results of the debates from each group were presented in plenary
session. One conclusion was the need for a national forum, an umbrella
for the organisations and institutions that work in the field.
People need information, new ideas, training opportunities and
models that can be adapted to their own needs. The forum could be
an independent body created by people for people working in this
field, could forward the initiatives to the national authorities
and “fight” for the rights of those in need in order
to improve the quality of life for children and adults with disabilities.
Note: Facilitation of large discussion groups was a new learning
experience for FSC. The sessions were somewhat compromised by large
numbers and lack of time (not to mention some facilitators using
the opportunity to deliver a lecture) but it was a good learning
experience for many of us.
After the discussion groups Mrs.Julia Smyth, programmes
Director of the Relief Fund for Romania, picked up the idea of creating
a national forum and introduced the feedback questionnaires that
were handed out to be returned on Day 2. Analysis of the questionnaires
showed 95% interest from the participants for joining such a forum.
The press conference was held in the lunch break. Information about
the conference appeared in the local newspaper and at the local
The second half of the first day continued with practical workshops
Dr Sue Jennings and Vali Racila
for drama, Tim Wright for music, Dan Foca
for dance, Janet Sparkes for movement, Mary Turner
for Art of music, art, drama, movement and dance sessions. The participants
went to the workshop they choose in the registration form. The practical
activities offered energy and ideas to everybody, being in the same
time an opportunity to share their work experience.
The practical sessions were very much appreciated by the participants
and the concrete results of the art session were displayed in the
Creativity in Therapy and Various Approaches in Art Programmes
This plenary session offered the opportunity of learning about
various models: the Impart model of FSC, the Art Therapy Centre
from Timisoara, Janet Sparkes and Kate
Baxter made a presentation of Muzika Charitable Trust activity
in Romania and also the representatives of Music as Therapy explained
about the training on music therapy.
At their requests several participants had interventions on different
approaches such as: the activity of the Oncologic institute of Bucharest,
Melotherapy by Moshe Zamurovici and Mr.George
Gojgar from the National Institute for prevention of social
exclusion of people with handicap.
The conclusions of the session was the limited availability of
training in this field Diversity offers ideas and good models. The
great results of the combined art therapy in rehabilitation of people
with special needs and in human rights aspects are obvious, spectacular
and a starting point in extending the services throughout the country.
The day ended in friendly and warm atmosphere with a song from
Kate Baxter etc -this was very welcome and demonstrated
how important creativity is in a conference content – a good
lesson for next time!
4. The Romanian traditional dinner
All the participants, over 200 persons, were invited to participate
to a Romanian traditional meal, at the restaurant from the hotel
Moldova. It was a social event where people had a chance to relax
and exchange ideas about their work and discuss future collaboration.
The participants were entertained by: the artistic group of children
“Zmeuris” (FSC beneficiaries), Michael
Copley, Tim Wright, Vali Racila and the popular artist
Mos Tache. The meal was free of charge.
5. Day 2 - 28 March 2003
230 persons were registered for the second day.
The day was opened by Lenuta Nastac welcoming
the participants. The topics of the day related to the legislative
context in Romania, training and accreditation in this field, other
models, presentation of Impart manual, changing the institution
culture and a final plenary session on creativity and human rights.
§ Sorin Brasoveanu, the General Director
of the Department of Child Protection, Bacau; he referred to the
local context, the need for training in this field and accreditation.
The new legislation for child protection has been forwarded for
approval by EU specialists and the process has not been finalised.
Mr.Brasoveanu highlighted the importance of collaboration and
partnership between state institutions and NGOs in delivering services
§ Rodica Padureanu, Director of the newly
formed County Department for Social Protection (former inspector
of the Inspectorate of People with Handicap) who highlighted the
difficulties facing the authorities as they try to implement change
in line with the EU standards for people with disabilities.
She explained about the recent changes in the system of protection
for people with handicap and the action plan for the following 5
years in Romania, the creation of the National Agency for People
with Handicap and the county offices for social protection.
§ Dorina Poinaru, director of the Society
for Physical Handicapped Persons, Bacau made a presentation on the
difficulties that people with handicap confront every day and how
inaccessible public buildings and areas are.
§ Marioara Popa, director of Daniel Centre,
Bacau spoke on support to families in the community, the need for
extending the services for parents in rural areas, etc
§ Veronica Ungan, mother of a child with
disabilities – mentioned her distress at no facilities for
autistic children, she presented a very real and emotional story
that lead to her joining an organisation that offers services for
§ Val Regan, University Sheffield Hallam:
gave a very interesting presentation on the Open College Network
(OCN) model in UK. OCN assures the evaluation, certification and
accreditation of organisations that deliver training in every field
of expertise. She presented in detail a flexible, adaptable system
that can answer specific training needs at any level.
§ Janet Sparkes, Muzika Charitable Trust,
UK: presented the various training options and projects organised
by MCT in Romania;
§ Una McInerey, Music as Therapy, UK: explained
how interested groups of people can request a training session in
music as therapy by UK specialists.
§ Madeleine Goodman, the Association for Creative
Therapies, UK: had a long intervention on the needs of the parents
with special needs children. She shared personal feelings and stories
and explained about the difficulties she had to confront.
She is now enrolled with the British University -Faculty of Education
and undertaken research in several European countries on profound
and multiple disabilities. She mentioned the establishment of the
East European Association of Creative Arts (ECARTE) in September
2002 organisation that will focus on accreditation of art therapy
in university education.
Madeleine emphasized the need and right of parents to be involved
in choices for their children and represented in organizations catering
for special needs children.
§ Prof. Cristian Buica Belciu, Bucharest University:
explained about the module on art therapy sustained at this university
for 4th year students in special needs education.
He was very open and criticized the lack of resources and of practical
approaches within this training. The public university system is
not flexible and is quite rigid and conservative (comparing with
He ended by saying “It’s like going to a restaurant
and saying ‘What’s on the Menu’ to be told ‘Soup’…and
The rest of the speakers presented their results obtained with
various group of beneficiaries using creative arts methods.
§ Dr. Sue Jennings, dramatherapist, UK
§ Lenuta Nastac, coordinator of the Arts Therapy for the Disabled Programme,
§ Ramona Craita, psychologist at the Recovering and Rehabilitation
Center Gisteni, Bacau
§ Adriana Rosu, director of the Placement Center for the Child
with Disabilities, Bacau
§ Mary Turner, Artistic director of Action Space Mobile
§ Vali Racila and three residents of Gisteni Hospital Dan
Ripa, Adriana Ciorcu, Liliana Mirza: made a very impressive
suggestive presentation of the achievements made in the institution
where they live with strong and clear voices proving that quality
services in institutions can change people's lives.
Dan Ripa: “Thank you for inviting me to
this conference….I would like to tell you, what a good relationship
I have with our director, he is like our father. He trusts me and
offered me support when I wished to visit my parents for a couple
of days. My parents are ill, old and their house is very small.”
Liliana and Adriana were bringing many thanks to the director
that is their best friend, that can listen and understand their
problems. Adriana described the bad situation of the institution
before Dr. Necula came.
Now, we have many friends that come and visit us, bring us presents,
talk to us, are working with us. That makes a big difference.”
The audience was very sensitive to their story, listening to their
With Ramona Craita's presentation on a case study
of the development of Gisteni Hospital in the last 10 years from
the perspectives of the staff, the residents and of Romanian and
foreign NGOs who have worked in partnership with the hospital the
message was that changes can be made with a good director
who has the courage and the foresight to take advantage
of every opportunity and the presence to carry his staff with him.
In the afternoon an important part of the programme was the Forum
Theatre presented by the residents from The Recovering and Rehabilitation
Center Gisteni. They proved the result of a ten years work with
therapy and creative stimulation that institution being one of the
few in the country that benefited of a continuous collaboration
with Romanian and foreign NGOs.
The Forum Theatre presented Lenuta’s life how she ended up
into this institution. The actors (9 residents) were playing Lenuta’s
life – how she was left by her husband that didn’t get
along with her, how her family or the authorities didn’t offer
any support, finally getting to CRRN Gisteni. The audience was also
involved in the play, someone entered into Lenuta’s role changing
her destiny, leaving the past life behind and going away into the
The message transmitted by the theatre play was that our society
doesn’t offer solutions when people are in need. Bureaucracy,
the lack of access to the social services, sends people in the wrong
places. The actors themselves were negative and bureaucratic when
playing the roles of those with power of decision, knowing exactly
how the authorities respond to the requests of those in need.
The conference ended by Mrs. Gabriela Achihai
presenting the conclusions and the results of the event. Kate Baxter,
the director of Muzika Charitable Trust involved the audience in
a song accompanied with musical instruments creating a special atmosphere
when people sang “La revedere” to each other.
Questionnaires regarding the conference were distributed to all
the participants and collected at the end of the day. (See the Appendix
1- Analysis of the questionnaires).
6. Exhibition viewing
FSC organised an exhibition with artwork of children and adults
from institutions, NGOs from different parts of the country. The
participants had the opportunity to view the exhibition in the break
time and take new ideas that they may use in the art programmes
(art, modeling, painting, collage) with the beneficiaries.
Presentation materials from NGOs and institutions were also on show
(leaflets, newsletters, books, etc.), a new chance for the participants
to get in contact with similar initiatives in the country and abroad.
7. Presentation equipment
Some of the speakers used the video projector, power point presentation,
video, flipchart. A video presentation of FSC and the IMPART programme
was playing downstairs in the museum, the participants watching
it in the lunch break.
8. Conclusions and results of the
· Participants have more ideas, contacts and information
about: Arts Therapy for the Disabled for special needs groups; measured
by the number of speakers, topics, workshops, feed-backs.
· The participants showed interest in joining a national
forum. This will be taken forward by The Relief Fund for Romania
and participants will be informed what is happening.
· The conference explored the training opportunities, not
many at present; some groups may apply for existing training courses:
Music as Therapy, Muzika Charitable Trust, FSC-Impart
· More training opportunities for those working with special
needs groups are needed outside the formal degree route (psychology,
teaching, etc.); expressed at workshops
· The training needs to be sensitive to the previous educational
experience and realistic to own aspirations, and accredited by the
authorities in the field of education. To this effect FSC will discuss
and negotiate for national interest in Open College Network model
· FSC will start the process of accreditation with OCN to
demonstrate the high standard of FSC training, the fact that there
are measurable outcomes and alternative ways of demonstrating quality
· Future conferences need more creative content
· Workshops need to be more numerous and smaller numbers
· Future conferences and the forum will encourage representation
from people with disabilities.
· Disability access must be assured
The analysis of the questionnaires led us to the following conclusions:
§ A low number of questionnaires was registered comparing
with the number of the participants
§ The organization of the event was considered as very good
§ The participants showed a high interest for the therapeutic
§ Accreditation represent for most of the participants a wish
but the steps that need to be followed in the process are totally
§ Most of the practitioners need continuous training in various
§ The idea of a national forum has many adherents
§ Most of the participants wish that this conference become
Some feedback from our Romanian colleagues sponsored by
Music as Therapy:
" The conference was divided between debates and practical
work-shops. Alongside the very important and useful discussions,
we were pleasantly impressed by the good collaboration seen between
NGOs and local authorities. It is the local authorities which can
enable to NGOs to become more powerful.
We would have liked more time to have been allowed for the workshops
and if it had been possible for us to participate in every workshop
(as was possible at the International Music Therapy Conference in
Calimanesti- Caciulata, Sept. 2001).
The subjects covered in the workshops were very interesting and
we have now a lot of new ideas which will help us in our activities
(art-therapy, dance, drama). We were also really pleased to receive
a copy of the very useful book about combined arts.
At the end of the conference, we decided to make a National Forum,
which would be very useful for our work in the future (a place to
exchange ideas, find solutions, exchange experience etc)."
“The Conference in Bacau was well organised, from the point
of view of where it was held, the subjects covered were very interesting
and all the presentations were very relevant.
I had the opportunity to talk with other participants about their
work, their opinions and their methods.
In terms of learning, I can say that I was able to consolidate what
I had learnt in a year and a half ago with my initial Music as Therapy
I am aware of the importance of collaboration between the organisations
and all the different programmes in this field.
I talked with several colleagues from other cities, I exchanged
ideas with them and shared opinions.
A large part of the conference focused on presenting the model used
by the IMPART team of the Fundation for Community Support.
Pedagogs, psychologists, parents of children in Romania all took
part in the conference, as well as lots of professionals from England.
From them I learnt a lot. They are our models.
In conclusion, the conference was interesting. For me it was a great
pleasure to take part in the conference."
Feedback from UK participants, Music as Therapy representatives:
· Considering first of its kind, we felt there were few weaknesses
· Definitions were not dealt with and there were some generalisations
of "therapies" which would need to be dealt with should
the "forum" be established.
· The conference lost its focus slightly - especially on
the second day - maybe the issue of training/accreditation seems
too big a leap at the moment - particularly at a national level?
· A general comment was lack of attendance by people with
Things that were well done:
· General organisation
· Translations (generally)
· Questionnaire re future forum - well received and gave
delegates a vision to hold on to and a sense of solidarity and support
- also gave the conference a focus
· Some opportunities for open-floor discussion - although
fear of anecdotal/personal/diverting from the point.
Note: Since the conference the formation
of a National Network to take this initiative forward was progressed
with the succesful launch of the magazine, Impreuna
Issue 2 April
FUNDATIA DE SPRIJIN COMUNITAR (FSC)
The second conference -
kindly sponsored by the British Embassy of Romania - was held in
November 2004 Click here
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