Ricardo Cobo Díaz

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 1997


This profile was prepared when Ricardo Cobo Díaz was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1997.
The New Idea
Ricardo Cobo is revolutionizing the care and education of the mentally handicapped in Latin America by replacing custodial education methods with a new teaching and therapeutic model based on art. He has demonstrated that activities such as making pottery and acting in a play are effective ways to teach mentally handicapped children how to read and write and learn social and job skills. His work is changing the experiences of entire families and critical aspects of the educational and welfare systems. "I am replacing discipline with respect," says Ricardo.

Ricardo carries the education of the children to the next step, which is to integrate them into their communities. There is a natural affinity between his art-based work with children and the art and performance festivals that are a familiar part of Latin American public life, and he has made the most of it. With the cooperation of community leaders he is securing the integration of mentally handicapped children into art shows, theater productions, pantomime, dance, music, and other social functions. Ricardo is opening people's eyes to these children's abilities.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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