The project took place in Special Education Center in Livadeia, Greece from September 3rd, 2013 till June 3rd, 2014.
The specific objectives are divided in two categories depending on who the beneficiary is:
- a) for mentally retarded persons, the objectives are focused in the improvement of their everyday routine, fighting of discriminations, social inclusion, high quality tutoring, and finally implementation of new methods and techniques on self-independence.
- b) for volunteers, the objectives are: the comprehension and acceptance of diversity, the exchange of knowledge and techniques in mentally retarded persons, developing communication skills, the ability of collaboration and work in a foreign environment and society, and the improvement of reliability and responsibility in personal level.
The activities implemented were are as follows:
1) Most of the activities carried out by volunteers at the Centre was related to ergotherapy.
These activities were mainly associated with the country of origin of volunteers and holidays and
other special events that were about to happen, like Christmas or Easter. According to that, the
volunteers have taught the children how to make:
- special Christmas ornaments from the rural areas of their country
- Christmas tree made from cut out coloured contours of the children’s hands
- Christmas tree made from pine cone and colorful beads
- Christmas balls made from ribbons
- Easter greeting cards made from potato stamps
- Easter tree, where instead of leaves were paper Easter eggs prepared by kids made by using various materials like tissue-paper, brocade, ribbons and much more.
What is more, volunteers have taught the kids the special songs from their countries, adapted to the children. They showed them their traditional dishes and they cooked some of them with the children. They also have taught them some English words and phrases (using special computer programme) to help the kids with communication with people from abroad and make them more comfortable with the new language that started to surrounded them.
Moreover volunteers followed the Center’s activities that included handicrafts(paper gifts, plaster items, candle decoration, wooden items, sewing), painting, music therapy, theatre, pottery, puzzles, constructions, energizing games, memory games, table games, gardening, physical education and sports, dance, cooking, outdoor activities, free time entertainment and social integration visits to local restaurants and cafes.
2) Planning, organizing and implementing youth activities with mentally retarded youngsters from abroad in Youth Exchanges within the frame of various European and World programmes for the creation of networks of voluntary organisations and knowledge sharing.
3) Creation of a webpage for the Centre with articles for voluntarism and EVS along with local events and news from the Centre. Designing of a leaflet with EVS and activities included with the help of past volunteers. Organization and implementation of a dissemination event for publicity about the values of EVS and present their personal experience of their EVS and force youngster to try EVS.
4) Volunteers in their free time integrated into the local community of Livadeia city by doing dance classes and learning Greek. Also communicate with local youngsters that desired to learn about each other’s culture.
- c) methodologies
The methodologies used for the implementation of the activities based on techniques suitable for mentally retarded persons. The methodological approaches mainly applied were characterized as experiential, active, discovery/exploratory, participatory, collaborative and collective for problem solving and field study. The mentally retarded persons were in the centre of the education methodology and they follow the student based methodology for achieving efficient results. The methodologies used techniques and means of the special designed activities mentioned.
Outcomes of the project
The outcomes of the project were mainly intangible learning skills for volunteers focused on how to apply practical techniques of social services to special target groups such as mentally retarded persons and being able to coop with the special needs of these people. Along with this volunteers learned how to manage and react on sudden situations and how to organize their time at work. Also how to live pleasantly in a foreign environment and to communicate in body and spoken language of another group and developed their personal skills of life. The organization and dissemination through the final public event presenting their experiences as a result of their involvement to EVS of the Youth in Action Programme promoted the value of European funded programs to citizens.
What is more, the volunteers are still in touch with the Centre and there is a huge chance that the ‘goodbye’ after 9 months that were spent together was not the final one.
The duration of voluntary service was 9 months with 2 volunteers involved one from Poland and one from Spain.
Our Polish volunteer, Magda Rutkowska, came from Warsaw and she was 26 years old at the time. She was a Polish Philology graduate from the University of Warsaw and was working at the TRINITY LANGUAGE LAB as a language instructor. Magda’s sending organization was Stowarzyszenie Polska Misja Medyczna. Polish Association of Medical Mission work in rescue, civil protection and health promotion with the following objectives: a) Emergency medical assistance to victims of wars, catastrophes and natural disasters, b)Humanitarian medical assistance, c)Medical assistance to Poles living in the East, d)Training of personnel and the civilian population with basic health and basic and advanced life-saving treatments.
Our Spanish volunteer, Paula Nora Napal Zaballa, came from Bilbao and she was 25 years old at the time. She was a Social Educator and graduated from the University of Deusto and was unemployed. Her sending organization was Fundación Canónica Autónoma Ede (bolunta). The organization aims to “built” a more supportive and participative society. Its main activities are to support and encourage actions by volunteers. Also promotes the values of volunteering through culture.
Web links: http://amea.imtl.gr/?page_id=192&lang=en
Press articles: http://www.imtl.gr/?p=14744
The hosting organization representative is the Director Mrs Alexandra Zantali that we propose to attend the exhibition and debate in Brussels.
The young participant is Ms Magda Rutkowska a volunteer that completed her service with success and can represent this EVS in the exhibition and debate in Brussels.
Her testimony is:
In the Special Education Centre ‘Ειδική Παιδεία’ I was responsible for taking daily care of young
men and women with a mental incapacity and mild physical disabilities, for organizing their time in
inventive and productive way, also I accompanied them during the handicrafts workshops.
My participation in the project was an unforgettable experience for me. It was great
opportunity to work for the others, as a volunteer with people with disabilities, which enriched me as
a human being. The project has made me more sensitive to people’s needs and weaknesses. I have
realized how important it is mutual trust and responsibility for another individual. I’ve seen how
inspiring and creative can be work with handicapped people. I have never seen such unusual and
constructive approach to this type of work in my home country.
Furthermore, I don’t know where else I could learn so much about another culture, another
people with different way of thinking. Because of the everyday experience of the customs and rituals
of the natives I enriched the knowledge of language, cultural differences, differences in thinking. I have
learnt how to solve problems and disputes in a calm and kind manner. I have learnt the need
of dialogue, compromise, cooperation in spite of differences of characters.
Thanks to the project and my coordinators I improved my Greek language completely because
of daily communication with native speakers, at work and outside of work. Finally I passed the exam
in Hellenic American Union on the level B2 with a very good mark.
I came back home with new experience, greater knowledge of the different areas, new goals
in my life and, what I appreciate a lot, new friends. I highly appreciated my work in Special Educational
Centre ‘Eidikh paidia’, that’s why I would like to continue my work with people with disabilities also
here in Poland. Also I would like to go on with my Greek language. I have found it very valuable and
worth further work on it.
From the Special Education Centre I received full support, all that I needed: personal support,
taskrelated support, linguistic support and administrative support. I felt safe and under their care.
I would like to notice that from the Centre I received more than it was necessary. They were not only
mentors, but also friends, and they did their job just perfectly. I wish everyone could have such
a experience with such co-worker.