During the project living conditions and social skills were improved for deprived communities through creating social links between children from vulnerable groups in Ignalina and Daugavpils through educational and recreational children camps.
Project involved socially excluded families with children and families with disabled children.
It was planned, that camps for both Latvian and Lithuanian participants will be visited by 160 children from social exclusion families (4 camps), 200 children from socially excluded families with several children (4 camps) and 40 disabled children (2 camps). Although the last camp planned for March 13th – 17th, 2020 didn’t take place due to start of Covid-19 restrictions and 20 participants couldn’t visit last camp in Daugavpils, there were 396 children participating in all camps during the project implementation. This was possible, because both partners were determined to accept as many camp visitors and involve as many children from vulnerable families as it was possible on each camp, so some camps had more visitors than it was initially planned.
The main goal of the camps was to help children to discover themselves, be more aware of the person who they are, accepting their feelings, thoughts, personality, goals, and dreams. Children were able to do this in four main ways:
- during the morning lap;
- during talent classes;
- during joint evening activities;
- during social activities;
Morning lap sessions
These sessions were structured in such a way that the first guest with experience of growing up in a vulnerable or socially excluded family shares their experience. After this, the children were divided into groups, during which there was a discussion about how the children identified themselves and what emotions they felt. During these sessions, children had the opportunity to touch on topics such as shame, fear, anger, parental love, dreams, and more. During the groups, it was emphasized that we speak one by one, do not criticize, do not condemn and do not interrupt. It was a safe place for children to open up and share experiences openly.
Both project partners wanted children to get to know their talents during the camps. Therefore, each day during the camp, children were able to choose from one of four possible afternoon activities:
All sessions were conducted by volunteers who are specialists in their field and have experience working in groups. During each day, the children had different topics and tasks in the area. This allowed the children to experiment and see what talents they have. Every evening daily discussions were held, during which it was also discussed with the children what they liked / disliked the most about the day. After several activities, the children were able to name the emotions they felt during the day and gradually recognize which activities best reveal their talents.
General evening activities
In the evenings during the camps joint activities were held, the purpose of which was for the children to relax, have fun, get to know each other better. Usually one of the evenings was a general dance lesson, during which the teacher taught some new dance moves and dances. These dances for children were so memorable that the children danced them a few more times during the morning exercise and used them as a performance during a talent show. There was also a talent evening where the kids were able to show up and show off what they learned. During the talent show, the children danced, sang and played.
One of the goals of the camps was to develop children’s social skills. The whole camp was based on discipline routine, a clear schedule of the day, morning exercises and etc. There usually was also a motivational system where children had a chance to collect some kind of stickers for help with cleaning and help in the kitchen. After collecting the appropriate number of stickers at the end of the camp, the children received a prize-cup with a general photo of all the participants in the camp.
This way children quickly became friends with each other, sometimes despite the language barrier, talking and already making plans for a meeting at future camps.
During the project an abandoned building in Ignalina with accommodation of 158 square meters was fully repaired and redecorated. It included roof repair, new windows, new doors, electricity system repair, heating system repair, water supply system repair, floor renewal, walls redecorating. Also it was fully equipped, so that premises from an abandoned building transformed into fully functional youth day care center.
Premises in Daugavpils were equipped with new sports and leisure equipment.