The not so special treatment | Sara Kočan | TEDxFerhadija

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producer and choreographer of many shows, festivals, etc. She is a Coach to European and World champions and finalists. She is mostly known for her work in the field of inclusion for which she received many awards as Recognition from the prime minister and the president of North Macedonia and an award for Young business leaders for the European Union’s 10th Sustainable Development Goal: Reduced inequalities. She is a producer and choreographer of many shows, festivals, etc. She is a Coach to European and World champions and finalists. She is mostly known for her work in the field of inclusion for which she received many awards as Recognition from the prime minister and the president of North Macedonia and an award for Young business leaders for the European Union’s 10th Sustainable Development Goal: Reduced inequalities. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx <br> <h3>Auto Generated Captions</h3>

[Music]
what would you feel like if you were
born in a non-conventional marriage of
two parents from different cultures
cultures that have had their difference
in the past
and unfortunately arm past them I was
born in a mixed marriage
my father is Albanian and my mother is
Macedonia growing up I was always asked
what it’s like to have two parents from
two different cultures what does it feel
like do I feel more like Macedonian or
Albania my answer was always the same I
feel normal because that was my normal I
couldn’t have imagined myself looking at
it different being and it different or
being born and a different that I was I
was traveling a lot with this and I was
bothered from the need of people to
categorize me for who I was
well why I was born I would like to take
some seconds 30 seconds and think about
our biggest biggest weakness fear or the
one thing that bothers you most and
please stay with it through this talk
when I was 24 I met my husband and he is
Bosnian with me being Albanian
Macedonian something and that made me
think what will our children be and
while I was pregnant with my first
daughter the struggle continued because
we wanted to name our daughter Emily and
it’s not the familiar name nor a
conventional name for four cultures or
for relatives so ditch try to interfere
with the decision of naming our child
and when Emily naira was born is when
everything was clear for me when I
stopped struggling
I just hope they would be happy and
healthy and whatever they wish to be and
I hope I will be there to support them
as any other parent would think putting
boundaries and margins for our children
is like putting them in this small boxes
and closing up an entire world of
exploration for them boxes like religion
race color traditions gender sexuality
what do people say and in the Balkans
this huge problem 2013 with my husband
Edmund we opened our dance studio
dancers United with the idea that it
will unite everyone and it will be a
place where everyone can feel themselves
including us we decided we are going to
have a pro bono group and we established
a group for people with special needs
and we started with a big group with
Down’s of people with Down syndrome and
started giving them the special
treatment trying to arrange a special
class in special hours where they
weren’t mixed with anyone else because
we had reactions from our clients like I
don’t want my kids to see them my kid
was afraid at home my kid cried they
look so weird they are pitiful they they
they they what is your reaction when you
see a person with impairment think about
it and the group wasn’t progressing even
though we were trying to make all the
special conditions for them so they can
feel good and safe but we were doing it
all wrong we were in a way asking them
how it’s like to have Down syndrome and
I was forgetting that that was the one
thing that pissed me off mostly while
growing up Down syndrome is a condition
they are born with it that is their
genetic code it is their normal so who
are we to take deciding into our own
hands
and create a normal for them this is
when we realized we have to change we
have to accept and we have to unite and
that’s when our name got its real
meaning United in our studio the we have
three dance halls
and in the to dance smaller dance halls
we have professional classes dance
classes Latin hip-hop and ballet for
children while in the other in the big
dance hall we have fitness classes and
dance classes for adults the frequency
in the studio every one hour is from
fifty to hundred people and each day 200
to 300 people pass through the studio
this includes parents grant grandparents
brothers sisters people that come to
exercise people that come to pick up or
bring their children to dance classes
and these are two to three hundred
different energies different characters
that pass through the studio which we
affect so I changed my mindset and this
is the special program taking place in
the special hours and move the group to
the regular hours with everybody else
this was a very big risk we took as a
company but also a big step that defined
our basic vision to have a place where
everyone fills themselves and this made
the natural selection of our target
group members we lost some members at
the beginning which wasn’t cool with
being in the same room I don’t know why
with people with special needs but we
gained a whole new spirit in the company
I started teaching my classes regularly
I started listening to my group I
started focusing on their interests not
everyone likes hip-hop ballet or Latin
but nonetheless they had to learn
everything during these years in order
they can express themselves very soon
after we had our first flash mob a flash
mob is a group of people that assemble
in a public place and perform an act for
the purpose of entertaining and artistic
expression and then they just spread out
so we mix a few other of our groups and
we had our first flash mob which was
really cool and they all enjoyed
together from there on everything
started to work out great and we
organized the first inclusive festival
which resisted by 400 people and
then we have had this tradition on
organizing an inclusive festival each
year which year by year is growing and
more and more people have seen them and
then we have the first competition that
we will visited that had thousand five
hundred people in the audience and so on
the six years hundreds of thousands have
heard about our dancers with Down
syndrome but nothing as it seems as easy
as it seems I got pregnant becoming a
new mother and getting these new rules
in my life led to the point that we had
to find a new coach finding a new coach
whatsoever is very difficult and I
cannot even tell you what it was like to
find a new coach for an unconventional
group and telling them that there is no
methodology nor manual on how to work or
what to expect from it but fortunately
as everything else in life everything
has a solution and under my mentoring
one of our coaches stepped in and my
younger sister helped and during this
years they had so many different coaches
I didn’t need to teach them anymore and
I couldn’t because guess what I became
pregnant again with my daughter Luna
Daria during these years I didn’t need
to coach them anymore
I let them and we started attending
championships European Championships
World Championships and we even won them
the categories / integrative and 100
percent 50 percent of the dancers in the
group should be must be with
disabilities and the rest can be with
regular development but we decided that
we are going to go with hundred percent
with people with Down syndrome just to
show people the abilities of the people
with disability so 2015 and since today
since 2019 they have the title national
champions 2016 they became the feather
six in Graz Austria or at the World
Championship they finished third
in Copenhagen 2018 they won the title
European champions in generate early
2018 my desk room a Down syndrome
dancers won the title world champions in
Kyoto Poland and 2019 they defended
their title as world champions
and all this was achieved by not giving
them the special treatment and if it
sounds like I’m bragging it’s because I
am they have gotten so this huge media
space
they went viral in our country and
abroad we filmed documentaries
photoshoots music videos we went to all
televisions they had lots of interviews
we had just don’t come and visit us in
our studio and we filmed a short
documentary with her we visited the
president of North Macedonia the Prime
Minister Minister Synovus officials of
North Macedonia we got lots of awards
and recognitions and everyone is asking
for the DA’s crew to perform for them
and they are getting paid for their work
people recognized them on the streets
and they asked for autographs they take
pictures together and the speak of them
only in a positive way so do you
remember the dance group with Down
syndrome that people didn’t want to be
with in the same studio from before look
where they have come now all this was
achieved just because we didn’t give
them the special treatment so they
managed to affect so many people in so
many different ways that their special
needs look more like special powers
they are becoming role models in our
country for everyone people with
impaired development real thing if they
can do it why not me and people with
regular development will go if they can
do it why not me they affect all people
the tradition of a super hero is someone
that has super powers to affect people
for the better and to fight the evil and
the bad so what do you think is this
group that this dear screw our
superheroes there are to me
let me tell you a quick story I think I
have time yes in one of our children
groups 10 to 12 year olds we have a girl
with Down syndrome I don’t know if you
can find her in the picture they were
getting ready for the national
championship I had to tell them that the
front is not going to dance with them
and I told them that then she’s not
going to dance with them because of her
category and then they said your relief
oh it’s because of her age so we let her
dance with them and they even want this
national championship in their category
and the perception of this children
wasn’t that their friend cannot dance
with them because of her Down syndrome
it was because of her age she couldn’t
dance with them this was the only
categorization they so different which
by the way didn’t even bother them we
managed to change and affect the mindset
of our clients everyone fears the
unknown and we are making it familiar
for our friends inclusion at its finest
is acceptance and as a company we
managed to create this environment of
and the strict rule against
discrimination and hate speech and it
has been great for the business because
it naturally selected the client that we
want to reach to spread this mission and
vision so as a dance studio as sports
club we have this bigger sensibility on
raising healthy children healthy
generations with health and habits
especially when the statistics say that
300 to 400 thousand people in North
Macedonia are with disabilities or
related to disabilities according to the
standards of the World Health
Organization and only 2% of the total
population participates in sports and I
don’t know if you know but North
Macedonia is a country of 2 million
people
so please do the math all the articles
we had at the beginning are no gone we
move as a team we accept everyone
and we even accept those but first
impressions don’t look like they need
acceptance for example
this little five-year-old that comes to
classes she so cheerful and she has the
most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen she
has diabetes she has to measure her
blood levels two to three times only
during one class and she has to
constantly inject herself with insulin
it’s up to us how we are going to teach
our children to react on them on that
and the result is that she overcomes her
fright and fear of people’s reactions
and she has to do all this thing in
order to function normally because that
is her normal
there is four-year-old in your kids
kindergarten that hits your child daily
it’s up to us how we’re gonna react on
this it’s up to us to teach them new
ways of communication and teach them
that they have to be patient with
everyone and the result is that they now
are very good friends and they replaced
hitting with hugging
when you refer your hand it leads to a
handshake so you both get from it it
changes you
we must challenge our humanity get out
of the comfort zone and move our
boundaries everyone has a story to tell
and everyone deserves a fairytale my
down-syndrome ideas crew dancers are
professional dancers that are getting
paid for their work in the group we have
faculty student a professor we have
writers singers entertainers a bartender
and the best tango player you you will
ever meet and the story doesn’t end here
it continues with each one of us until
we spread humanity as an epidemic and I
challenge you to have a cup of coffee
with someone with Down syndrome to help
a person with impaired vision passed the
street to help a person in a wheelchair
going uphill to reassure mother
screaming child is running around that
she is doing well and to do the next
thing that you think you should
interfere with because it’s not your
problem I don’t know if you remember
what I asked at the beginning do you
remember if you could think of your
biggest weakness biggest fear or the one
thing that bothers you mostly about
yourself
I challenge you to think of ways how you
can turn it into a strength and how that
strength can help others around you
thank you
you
[Music]

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