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Friday, 2 April 2010

Mentally Challenged Croatians Helped By Irish Dancing

The successful stage show 'Riverdance' brought Irish dancing to a global audience. The quick steps and turns captivate people across the world. Now a more traditional version of Irish dancing is helping mentally challenged people in Croatia learn new skills and gain confidence.

The beat is Celtic, but the dancers Croatian.

Editor: Liu Fang | Source and video:

A group of people with mental disabilities learning traditional Irish step dancing.

The class is organized by the Croatian nongovernmental organization Ozana, which helps rehabilitate people with mental disabilities.

Miljenko was born with psychomotor impairment.

For the past five years, from Monday to Friday, he has become a regular at the Ozana dance workshops, including the Irish one which began a year ago.

Miljenko Kulic, psychomotor impairment sufferer, said, "I have always felt music, I breathe with music. And since I started practicing Irish dance my whole body has been moving. And I also hang out with my friends."

The complex dance steps have helped many participants to improve their co-ordination, none of the regulars has problems with moving in the correct direction whether to the left and right any more.

Irish dance is only one of many workshops Ozana organizes, others include art workshops, embroidery, clay modelling, music and dance workshops and swimming.

Ozana employs the Waldorf teaching methods established by the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner.

Nine different specialists work on the team to try to improve the quality of life for mentally challenged persons and their families.

The organization has 40 beneficiaries aged from five and upwards, with no upper age limit.

Vjera Lukavecki, head of the NGO Ozana, said, "The workshops provide participants with an opportunity to adopt and practice skills, which they can later use in situations and environments where they meet with "healthy" people. For example, in elementary schools where they may demonstrate and teach what they learnt here. That is an extremely important component of all the projects that we implement here."

According to The Ministry of Health there are 9,715 people with mental disabilities in Croatia.

Video courtesy of

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