In 2016, Adriana Tassotti was working as a volunteer in “Downeate”, a NGO for young people with Down Syndrome and one day, while recording videos with the crew she saw something that gave her an idea: while some kids in a group were great on camera, others stayed off the frame. “I saw in the little eyes of the kids in the second group that they wanted to participate but didn’t encourage”, Adriana said to AUNO. Then, she presented a project at the NGO where she worked to set up a “confidence workshop” for those youngsters who were “afraid” and to help those who did the videos to organize themselves.
For the first workshop, in 2017, nine youngsters and Adriana began working with tongue twisters and opened a whatsapp chat where they could only speak, not write. There, the participants had to say the tongue twisters and present themselves shortly saying who they were and what they liked to do. That chat was baptized by Lucía, one of the girls who accompanied Adriana in that first meeting: “Loros Parlantes” [Talking Parrots].
But in those first dialogues by the parrots, words were not going to flow so easily. The NGO members were struggling with several limitations concerning socialization and emotions, and Loros Parlantes first meeting was for some of them their first-ever experience in the mic. About this, Emi, one of the parrots, told AUNO: “I used to lie and cry for every stupid thing”. Her Loros mate, Gabi, said as well: “I did not talk before nor did I look at the camera. I used to look down”. On his part, another parrot, Martín, recognized: “It was common for me to be bossy, and I don’t want to boss anyone around”. For many these words may sound like a revelation, and Adriana has a possible explanation for this surprise.
“Society is not informed and disability has not yet been naturalized. It seems to me that we include but do not coexist with disability”, Loros coordinator said. She believes that “living together is a step further, it is listening to the person with disabilities, making them participate”.
That’s why “Loros Parlantes” is characterized by teamwork, “first we solve questions together and then we continue doing teamwork”, Loros parlantes member Lucía said. Talking Parrots also has a section called “Loros Ciudadanos” (Citizen Parrots) where they interview Argentine politicians like legislators Ofelia Fernández and Roberto García Moritán. The NGO also operates corners for sports, cooking, art, music and others. Any person with an intellectual disability can join “Loros Parlantes”. “The doors are open to everyone”, Adriana said.
Following that philosophy, only two years after that first meeting, Adriana was having an interview at Radio Capital Argentina where he defined the project with eloquence: “Loros is communication”. After the interview, the radio’s owner offered them a program. They accepted and on August 20th, 2019 “Loros Parlantes” first emision went live.
Today the NGO is financially supported with donations and monthly collaborations made by parents. “We are looking for a way to get subsidies to continue growing”, Adriana said. Thanks to these donations recently they could buy sound and light equipment and other elements necessary for the program. “We had that issue in the back of our minds because we really needed the equipment. We are moved by love and what we like most: doing the workshops and the program. And in order to continue growing financial help is necessary,” Adriana said
What will grow with the group’s growth is defined clearly by the parrots: “In Loros I feel happy, this is my family,” Maira said. Meanwhile, his colleague Cristian told AUNO: “I was very hyperactive, now I’m calmer, I can focus more on learning how to work for TV”. Tomi, another parrot, also focused on changes in his personality: “I turned into a generous colleague and not mistreat my peers”.
One of the last Loros Parlantes members in talking to AUNO, Cande, shared a clear point of view on herself: “Parrots give us a chance. We are people too, we have a disability but we can do what we want”. And the words of Lucía summed up the whole project: “It is a box of surprises because there are always new things to do and new opportunities that they bring us to fulfill our dreams, goals and rights.”
* Nota producida en el marco del taller English For Journalists dictado por AUNO