Vocational Training in Ghana AAC Strategies

Mary Osei, Headmistress of the Oboom School for Special Needs in Cape Coast, Ghana, and her teaching staff developed effective vocational workshop training for their students with intellectual disabilities and autism. With the support of the teachers, the students create bags made from Ghanaian fabric which they then sell. This video describes the steps needed to create the bags from buying the needed materials; creating patterns; cutting, ironing, and sewing; stamping the bags to identify where the bags were made; and tagging the bags so the student who created the bag and the teacher who gave support are identified. When the bags are sold, the money goes back to pay for school expenses and a percentage of the sales goes directly to the students who created the bags.

At the 2014 Professional Development Retreat with 60 Unit School Teachers in Sunyani, Ghana, Mary Osei gave a talk on how to start Ghanaian Bags vocational training in the other Unit Schools in Ghana. With a donation by Natalie Motamedi-Rad’s uncle Memo Motamedi-Rad, head teachers in unit schools across Ghana received funding to purchase the necessary equipment and materials to replicate the Oboom Ghana Bag project.

Catherine (Cate) Crowley, J.D., Ph.D., CCC-SLP of the speech-language pathology program at Teachers College Columbia University, has been working with the “Unit Schools” of Ghana’s Ministry of Education, Division of Special Education, since 2008. She brings her graduate students to Ghana to collaborate with colleagues to help address the needs of people with communication disabilities in Ghana. Additional videos, blogs, and materials on Cate Crowley’s work in Ghana is available on the Leadersproject.org.

Some of the students who have traveled to Ghana founded the “International Inclusion Project” with the intent of supporting greater inclusion of people with disabilities in their homes, schools, and communities. The Ghana Bags project developed by the Aboom School provides its students with an income which underscores their abilities and values. The International Inclusion Project is selling these Ghana Bags in fundraisers in the U.S. and sending the profits back to the Oboom School. In addition, individual students and their families have donated funds to pay for the fabric and other materials needed to create the bags, thereby increasing the profit and percentage that the Oboom students receive for their work.

Claire Crowley, a 2014 high school senior of Lawrenceville School, in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, has worked with Mary Osei and the Oboom School students to ensure that the Ghana Bags are especially appealing to teenagers and young adults in the U.S. Claire used the financial part of a leadership award she received from her school to travel to Ghana twice to buy fabric and work with the students. Claire has sold these bags to her friends and family, sending all sales back to the Oboom School. In addition, Claire did most of the camerawork for this video.

Visitors to the Oboom School for Special Needs, Cape Coast, Ghana are welcome. Please contact Mary Osei before visiting. oseimry@yahoo.com

To contact Catherine Crowley: crowley@tc.columbia.edu

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