An initiative to provide writing experience to people with disabilities, Asociación El Arka, is going from strength to strength.
Attempting to break down barriers and provide an opportunity for people with disabilities, the Helen Keller contest, in its third edition, provides a space for people with sensory, physical or intellectual disabilities to showcase some of their talents. The contest is run by the non-profit organisation Asociación El Arka, and the categories for the competition include poetry, short stories and features.
El Arka was created with the goal of developing projects aimed at people with disabilities, principally working with visually impaired people, but also with members from other groups. They have a number of educational projects, such as English classes, Braille classes and reading programmes for children with disabilities.
“The idea behind the contest is to inform society about the talents of this population, and to enable the artistic expression of people with disabilities from their different ways of perceiving, understanding and relating to the world,” says John Rodriguez, the association’s president.
The Helen Keller contest has a double impact in that it not only creates a space in which people with disabilities can share their creative and artistic capacity, but also aims to make it possible to sensitise and educate sectors of society against myths and paradigms attributed to the capacities of people with disabilities.
“The competition is open to people who live in Colombia as well as people from overseas, as long as the piece is written in Spanish,” Rodriguez says. “In past years we have had people enter from Chile, Spain, Argentina and even Cuba.”
Entrants welcome the opportunity to have their work published. Even better, successful poems and stories are published online.
By Laura Brown