BirdLife Cyprus is part of a newly launched environmental education project to assist teachers of blind and visually-impaired pupils.
Entitled ‘Seeing the World through Nature’, the project is a collaboration between BirdWatch Ireland, BirdLife Malta, the Polish Society for the Protection of Birds (the leading partner), BirdLife Cyprus and the Polish Association for the Blind, and is funded by the European Commission through its Erasmus+ funding stream.
The aim of the project, which will run until March 2022, is to develop environmental educational resources for teachers who work with blind and visually impaired children, in consultation with international experts in this field. These resources, as well as a mobile application to assist children in the recognition of birds, will then be made available free of charge to educators in each of the partner countries, and across the BirdLife International partnership.
The project will build on the successes of other recent environmental education initiatives that have involved the BirdLife International partnership, most notably the award-winning Erasmus+ Empowering Teachers and Pupils for a Better Life through Nature project which finished last year, culminating in an international workshop for teachers at Maynooth University in Ireland and the production of detailed teaching resources for educators and youth workers.
It will also draw inspiration from Spring Alive, the ongoing multi-national environmental education project centered around migratory birds, operated by BirdLife partners across Europe, Central Asia and Africa and currently sponsored by HeidelbergCement.
Niall Hatch, Public Relations, Branches and Development Officer with BirdWatch Ireland, said: “We believe that nature is for everyone and that outdoor learning is beneficial to all pupils. Through this project we hope to develop educational activities and materials that are suitable, fun and engaging for blind and visually impaired students.
“We know from our experience in running public birdsong events, such as our very popular dawn chorus mornings each May, that birds in particular can help to connect people with visual impairments to nature in a very special way. We now need to ensure that teachers have the necessary training and resources to help blind and visually impaired pupils make that connection.
“We are especially excited to be working on this project with our BirdLife International partners in Poland, Malta and Cyprus, who have led the way in environmental education in Europe and who have a wealth of experience and expertise, and with the Polish Association for the Blind, whose specialist knowledge is invaluable.”
In January 2020, project partners met at the first transnational project meeting in Malta. Joining from Cyprus was staff from BirdLife Cyprus as well as a representative from the St Barnabas School for the Blind, the only educational institution for individuals with visual impairment in Cyprus.