The Malta Independent on Sunday
Maltese and Italian dyslexic youths in an Erasmus Plus EU exchange programme
Thirty-six Maltese and Italian dyslexic young people aged between 15 and 25 are participating in an Erasmus Plus EU exchange programme between the two countries.
The aim of the programme is to improve their language and interpersonal skills in order to study ways and means of overcoming the difficulties their condition presents. The programme has taken two years in the making by the Dyslexic Teens Dialogue Hub, Malta. As part of the exchange, the Italian students arrived in Malta last week for the first part of the programme. The students’ days were filled with workshops run by local experts in the field, as well as a meeting with the President of Malta.
“The theme for this year’s exchange is preparing for the world of work. It is vital that these people equip themselves with the skills required for further education, as well as for the work environment,” explains organiser Mary Rose Farrugia (left).
Dyslexia is a condition that affects writing and reading skills, but with today’s specific help it no longer presents insurmountable barriers. Eighteen-year-old Kurt Mizzi explained that dyslexia is a difficulty but not a disability and causes those experiencing it to need more time to learn.
While it is true that, initially, people with dyslexic might need more support and understanding, over time – once belief is shown in their learning abilities and the work assigned is within their reach – they progress. The learning condition does not affect intelligence. Multisensory reading and spelling methods illustrated, together with strate- gies for study skills, vocabulary extension, report and essay writing, can support such students. They can develop alternative ways of learning and can move forward, provided that different learning strategies are put into place.
Italian student Gabriel De Giovanni shared his personal story of overcoming the stigma and barriers faced by those with dyslexia, and praised the Erasmus Plus experience as well as having the opportunity to meet others in the same position as him. He added that the diagnosis had been very hard to accept.
Holding back tears, fellow student Erica described how people did not take her condition seriously, because she always achieved good academic grades. She stressed that, despite the challenges, it is her intention to go to university and train as a teacher to support others in her position.
Mary Rose Farrugia, Doreen Mizzi and Melita Farrugia established ‘Dyslexic Teens Dialogue’ eight years ago after experiencing the dyslexia journey first hand – as all three are mothers of children with dyslexia. Subsequently, the youth group has been active in raising awareness about dyslexia and has participated in a number of conferences and projects. They have toured local schools, taken part in lectures at university and met with policy-makers and members of the public in general to raise awareness about dyslexia.
The Erasmus Programme will see the Maltese participants travel to Italy in two weeks’ time. Dyslexic Teens Dialogue youth hub meets weekly in Malta throughout the year. For more information on how to become involved, please check the Dyslexic Teens Dialogue Facebook page for regular updates.