As a Project Coordinator for the Peruvian NGO Aynimundo, Cristina Higa possesses both a firm commitment and practical experience in addressing shortcomings regarding the provision of inclusive education in Peru. She contributes to a number of her projects administered by her organization, which promotes community-driven initiatives focused on education, economic empowerment and infrastructure. Cristina plays a key role in Aynimundo’s work on inclusive education through her leadership of Diversity for Inclusion, a four-year initiative that seeks to create opportunities for youth with disabilities to participate in school and community activities. As the lead official for Diversity for Inclusion, Cristina oversees facilitation of inclusive spaces in schools, the arrangement of community events, in which children with disabilities can participate, and workshops that engage with families and educate them about their rights and strategies they can adopt with regard to their children. The project also encompasses teacher training so as to ensure that educators understand the social model of disability and are aware of good approaches to use when working with students with disabilities.
Cristina intends to utilize the ADA International Fellowship Program to develop skills she could apply to her work with Diversity for Inclusion, specifically in the areas of teacher training and building school capacity to support students with disabilities. Diversity for Inclusion currently targets 150 students with disabilities in one public school and she would like to support its implementation by developing resources that will foment students’ active participation and strengthen teaching practices. To that end, she hopes to learn new approaches to teacher training and ways to construct a team of professionals who can attend to individual special needs of students in the school. She would also like to engage students with disabilities by holding sessions in which they will learn about coexistence and inclusion, fostering greater social acceptance within the classroom and the community.
Cristina will pursue her ADA International Fellowship training at the Mailman Center for Child Development at the University of Miami.