Maria Schejbal

Ashoka Fellow

Citation

This profile was prepared when Maria Schejbal was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
Maria is using theater to create positive experiences for Poland's disabled citizens. Her program to encourage active participation and integration into broader society calls on the support of local communities and therapy and social care institutions in a joint effort to mobilize the physically and mentally disabled, drug addicts, elders, and troubled youth. In a society where every marginalized group is relegated to a special-purpose institution, Maria avoids isolated environments and transforms the prejudices of the rest of society. Not focusing on any particular disability, Maria creates a universal approach where all of these people can meet and exchange emotions and opinions, thus growing and developing personally.
Maria recognizes that most theater projects involving the disabled have had limited impact because they have failed to spread beyond the founder's theater. Rather than attempt to build a large organization, Maria is seeding her idea throughout Poland by providing comprehensive training, workshops, and Internet support to teachers and practitioners attracted by her results. Marginalized young people who have helped produce Maria's performances themselves become workshop leaders.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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