The first volunteers have been added to the Centre for Recreation and Social Adaptation for Youth with Mental Disabilities. Volunteers are being utilized in the project Help Another—Become a Friend which started on 1 August. At the end of August, project volunteers and parents of the mentally challenged participated in a round table. During the round table they discussed problems, concerns, and proposals on how to improve the Centre.
Utilizing volunteers in this project will attract new friends for disabled youth. Each disabled child will have his or her very own friend. Together they will spend their free time in interesting and constructive ways. As Rev. Volodymyr Chorniy, Director of the local Caritas explains, the volunteers will interact with the youth not only at the Caritas facilities, but out in the community.
They will go to the movies together, go for walks in the park, and on other short excursions. Such close contact will hopefully blossom into a true friendship, which such children desperately need. The program also anticipates that they will work together in the Caritas workshops, hold football games, participating in summer camps, and much more.
Such close and continual interaction with disabled children has its own nuances and difficulties which the volunteers will discuss during a series of seminars and trainings. “At the end of the training we will pair up the disabled youths with friends. The pairs will be based on common interests. A child that greatly enjoys going to the movies will be paired with a friend who has similar interests,” noted Lyudmyla Maksymyuk, the project’s Coordinator.
The parents present at the round table warmly welcomed the idea of including friends to the Centre’s staff: “When a child is with her family she behaves differently. These children cannot always control their emotions, and often behave poorly. Later they apologize, and say that they didn’t want to behave that way. Truly, they are very good, but they need more understanding and support than other children,” Ms. Mariya who is raising a disabled child, explained to the volunteers.
Parents believe that the regular attention given to their children by volunteers will be a great asset for their children. For the parents it will be invaluable help because these children, as a rule, listen to strangers more than their own parents.