Egmont Højskolen: An ordinary Danish folk high school, and yet very different
Egmont Højskolen is an ordinary Danish folk high school, and yet it is very different. Here disabled young people and their helpers live side by side, while they enjoy the special time together.
Egmont Højskolen in Denmark is an ordinary Danish folk high school, and yet very different. Both disabled young people and their helpers, who are young people as well, are living side-by-side and takeing classes together and benefitting of one another’s company and perspective on life.
The history of Egmont Højskolen dates back to 1956 when Oluf Lauth, who himself had cerebral palsy, started the school. Today 250 young people are students at the school. Some of the pupils are disabled and need help from others. They have helpers, who are a student at the school as well. The helpers help the disabled students with personal care and they do a lot of social activities together, and stuff, that makes a young persons life. Others have mild disabilities, and do not need at helper.
A free space to be young
It is important for Bertil Sidenius, who is a teacher at the school, that the time at Egmont Højskolen is a free space for the students. Both the students who happens to have a handicap, and the student who don’t. It can be very important for the disabled students to live a normal life as a young person, and that is what Egmont is there to give them.
“For a lot of the disabled students, it is their first time living so closely with others at their own age, and it the first time that they experience a different way to live as a young person. Their time at Egmont Højskolen will give them a free space to be young together with others at the same age,” says Bertil Sidenius.
A unique place
It isn’t just the disabled students that benefit from attending to Egmont Højskolen. The helpers gets an insight in a new world, that they do not know a lot about beforehand. And they get new experiences and input from the disabled students. That is one of bests things about Egmont Højskolen according to Bertil Sidenius.
“I don’t think there will be another place, where such different people live side by side like this. It is very unique,” he says.
Education in leadership
The students at Egmont Højskolen has a lot of exciting classes. The helpers and the disabled students mostly have their classes together, and that takes a lot of effort for the teachers to organize the content of the classes for the very different students. But besides the regular classes, the disabled students are taught to be a leader for their future helpers outside of Egmont Højskolen. A lot os the students with a handicap arrive at Egmont directly from their parents house, and aren’t used to being a leader to a stranger. Therefore the school teaches them to make schedules, employees-meeting and they learn how to act as a leader to the helpers.
“That way, we prepare them for what they will meet when they leave the folk high school,” says Bertil Sidenius.