Discovering the Sounds of Silence

Project Overview

Children with and without hearing impairments joined to prepare and perform a theatrical adaptation of the poem "Forests' Olympics" in Warsaw, Poland.

Identifying the Problem

By virtue of specialized educational environments, young children with hearing impairments rarely have the opportunity to collaborate with their non-disabled peers on arts projects or other educational activities. Inspired by her Humanity in Action Fellowship, which strengthened her understanding of minority rights, as well as her personal experiences with people with hearing impairments, Marta sought to address the segregation that often occurs as a result of deafness. She wanted to create an activity for children that not only promoted integration and collaboration between deaf-mute children and their non-disabled peers, but that also served as an educational tool for the larger community.

Creating A Solution

Marta decided to use theater to bring together children with and without hearing impairments. She partnered with the Warsaw Institute for the Deaf and Gymnasium no. 333 in order to develop and implement her project. "Discovering the Sound of Silence" began by organizing a series of activities that would integrate both groups of children and encourage them to get to know each other better. The children then began attending theater workshops, which gave them the chance to discover a variety of theater methods and to have fun while creating something innovative and interesting in spite of the language barriers. The workshops also taught the children to take responsibility for their peers, as well as how to communicate and work in an intense and creative way. The children then collaborated on the theatre performance, which was based on “Forests’ Olympics,” a poem by Polish poet Jerzy Dąbrowski. The script of “Forests’ Olympics” is very dynamic, energetic and full of rhythm, and the children’s hard work and effective collaboration ensured that the performance did not disappoint. The premiere was attended by a large crowd of deaf-mute children and non-disabled children, as well as their friends, families and teachers, and the performance served as an inspiring example of what can be achieved through creative cooperation.

Lessons Learned

Marta found it challenging to facilitate cooperation among so many partners and individuals of such different backgrounds. In addition to moving slowly and being patient, she believes one of the most important decisions she made was to find very devoted and professional teachers to become involved in the project. Their expertise and passion was an integral part of the project’s success, and Marta is grateful for their guidance. She intends to continue to develop creative ways to encourage informal communication and cooperation among children, such as through joint trips and movie evenings


Marta received a grant from Humanity in Action Poland and the US Embassy in Warsaw, which covered the $2,500 cost of this project.

Awards & Recognition

"Discovering the Sounds of Silence" was featured as an extraordinary Senior Fellow project at the Second Annual Humanity in Action International Conference, held in Berlin.

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About This Project

HIA Program:

Poland Poland 2009

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