A final seminar within the project “Prospects of independent life of young people with disabilities” was held in the Republican Institute of Advanced Training in Minsk. More than 20 specialists from 6 regions of the Republic of Belarus participated in the seminar. Among them there were employees of territorial centres of social services to population who work directly with grown-up people with disabilities: heads of departments, labour instructors and heads of hobby groups.
A model of educational assisted living and organization of training lessons within the “School of self-advocates” were discussed during the seminar.
The educational assisted living service has being provided by the specialists of NGO “BelAPDIiMI” within the framework of different project over the last 5 years.
A social pedagogue and 3 social work specialists teach a group of youngsters consisting of 2 young men and 2 young women to live independently. The duration of a course is 3 months. The specialists’ goal is to reveal a potential of a grown-up man, to form skills necessary for independent life and teach youngsters to use the acquired skills in their everyday life.
The educational course was organized within the “training flat”. Special conditions promote willingness of youngsters to master new household, social and communication skills and skills to organize leisure-time activities which are necessary for independent life.
Realization of the educational assisted living service is possible when there are recipients of the service, an equipped training flat and a team of specialists who can assist clients and carry out educational activities.
Teaching young people the skills of independent living usually includes following components: planning of activities and establishment of communication, cooking and cleaning a flat, shopping and organization of leisure-time activities and taking care of oneself.
It is necessary to mention that specialists work out individual development programmes for each client, taking into account the evaluation of their needs. A reference with acquired skills of independent living is worked out for every client at the end of the educational course. This reference can be used in future while rendering the assisted living service under home conditions.
Different methods of education are used by specialists: individual and group education, motivation and encouragement, self-control and mutual control, specialists’ assistance and mutual assistance.
Besides, the programme “School of self-advocates” plays an important role in the process of education. This experience is important for youngsters who are trained to live independently. Regular lessons within the “School of self-advocates” allowed young men and women to become more active in decision-making, to develop their personal potential, to stir up a desire to think and act independently and to communicate with strangers in a comfortable and safe way. Apart from that, 6 most active participants of the “School of self-advocates” were trained to become “self-advocates – moderators”. This was the novelty of the project. The youngsters carried out 6 lessons using the format “equal to equal” with the support of trainers. The lessons were carried out for their peers from Territorial centres of social services to population in Minsk and Zhodino.
Following key aspects of work with young people within the framework of the project “Prospects of independent life of young people with disabilities” can be singled out:
- Educational assisted living service is the first or initial phase of the complex assisted living service which is indicated in the current legislation.
- Educational assisted living service can successfully work within a model “training flat”.
- The aim of assisted living is not only training youngsters and drawing up references for them, but also using the acquired skills under the conditions of permanent assistance (for example, in parents’ home).
- Combination of teaching the skills of independent living and lessons on self-advocacy raises the effectiveness of training of young people with disabilities.
The participants of the seminar became very interested in handouts: a primary evaluation of needs, an individual development programme, a reference on acquired skills of independent living, variants of individual homework and algorithms-instructions for shopping, cleaning, washing, cooking, self-care and other actions.
Specialists working in the social sphere asked different practical questions: “In what state centres such training flats can be establishes nowadays?”, “Should parents be involved in organization of educational process?”, “How to select a group of clients?”, “Should homework be obligatory and should specialists control it?”, “Do grown-up people have a wish to be trained?” etc.
The participants of the seminar watched a short video film about the process of organization of education in the training flat of NGO “BelAPDIiMI”.
The participants actively participated in discussions during the seminar, asked questions and shared their opinions and visions on development of the assisted living service at the state level in the future.
manager of the project “Prospect of independent life of young people with disabilities”