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Summer holidays of youth with special needs

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12.09.2016, Ukraine

Young people with special needs has always been one of the key target groups of social projects of Caritas Ukraine. During the year, they have the opportunity to attend specialized centers designed to help them to overcome social isolation, adapt themselves to life in society and find their educational and creative fulfillment. In summer, the regional offices of Caritas, with the assistance of donors and private benefactors, organized summer camps for their wards and their parents to enrich their leisure time and promote their physical and psychological recovery.



Among others, the benefactors of work with disabled people are Caritas France, Caritas Spain and Renovabis charitable organization. However, the regional offices of Caritas involve local fundraising and raise additional funds for summer holidays of disabled youth. Thus, Caritas Lviv cooperates with Kredens Café Company for that purpose – Caritas donation boxes are next to each cash register in Kredens Café coffee shops. Besides, Caritas Lviv conducts market fairs with products made by youth with special needs.

In late August, wards of Lviv Caritas center with their parents have been able to rest in a summer camp in the retreat house of the Redemptorist Fathers (Yaremche town). The aim of the holiday program was to combine physical activity outdoors (morning workouts outdoors, swimming in the river and hiking) and spiritual and educational work for development of creative potential. There were a lot of interesting art classes and competitions for children and parents. There were also special Theme Days: The Roads of Our Lives, The Way of Love, Good Path, Mercy Road, The Way of Gratitude etc.). As the organizers of the camp noted, – content, forms and methods of camp’s work were built on the principles of self-government, democracy and priority of human values. Most of the students told us that everyday life in a summer camp helped them to understand that everyone needs to be smart and brave, friendly and honest, good and creative.

Meanwhile, the 15 wards of Caritas in Stryy spent some unforgettable summer days in a beautiful nature in Hoshiv. Their camp they named “Special Summer with Caritas” directing their activities primarily on recreation and fun entertainment. Young people learned to be independent, responsible and consensual. Eight parents and Caritas staff helped to organize their leisure time. The observations of the organizers were very interesting. They noticed that young people who had the opportunity to live these days without parents enjoyed the camp especially. For them it was an opportunity to show their independence in everyday life, in public places, in nature and apply the skills that they acquired during their visits to social center. These pupils behaved less constrained, more involved in games and entertainment, indicating that long-term work with young people with special needs gives its results. Holidays went in favor of all – all participants shared their experience of having a good time, so they returned home relaxed and filled with new impressions.

For several years, Caritas Ivano-Frankivsk organizes holidays for children and young people with special needs at the retreat center of St. Andrew in Zarichchia village of Nadvirna region. This recreation of the last days of summer became a real and undisguised joy for ten people with disabilities from Ivano-Frankivsk Geriatric Center and seven children from the parish center of Rozhnyativ town. The program of the camp named “The friendship is our strength!” was developing in participants love to their neighbors, taught to appreciate friends and be creative. There were many sport exercises, workshops on making greeting cards in quilling technique, motanka dolls, pictures contests, games and walks. Each day ended with a disco and singing around the campfire. “Despite the intense regime of our holiday and fatigue, we are all very happy. I especially remembered the last night bonfire camp and making motanka dolls», ─ shares his impressions Tetiana, member of the camp.  

In turn, wards of Caritas Boryslav had the opportunity to participate in the local history recreational trip to the village Yanosha of Transcarpathian region. The aim of the trip was to familiarize participants with the historical past of the Transcarpathian region, to promote understanding of spiritual and moral values and recreational rest of participants in hot springs. The tour program included the participation in different cognitive and recreational activities, like a trip to Mukachevo Castle, improvement of health in thermal waters in Kosyno and Berehovo. In addition, they had an opportunity to visit the tract named Under Dzhublyk (Nyzhnie Bolotne of Berehovo district), participate in the liturgy and listen to a story of local nun about the miraculous emergence of the Holy Family and to take some holy water with them. Each day began with prayer and morning workouts and every evening everyone participated in various quizzes and dance contests. The trip was not only the time for rest but also the opportunity to spend time communicating with new friends, get to know each other better and learn the historical past of the Transcarpathian region. Tour participants appreciated these unforgettable moments of joy.  

All these events are necessary and important components of work with young people with special needs. For active holidays inspire their creativity, relieve their internal problems, help to develop communication and allow them to believe in themselves, to feel really needed and protected.

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