For a person with mental disability at a young age it is not easy to make experiences that allow to become adult, to mature the skills and autonomies needed to live their lives as independently as possible. Young people with disabilities are often victims of an “overprotective” attitude by family and school, justified only partially by their cognitive, relational or motor difficulties, with the consequence that the opportunities for experimentation of autonomy are reduced and creates a kind of “vicious circle” of mistrust, which leads to developing their potentials in a limited way.
The “Leave the Nest” international exchange project is born in the midst of these reflections, with the intention of realizing a significant experience in the path towards adulthood.
In particular, the objectives of the project, in relation to the Erasmus objectives, are:
• to increase the autonomy and the functional and relational capacities of all the young people involved, through a path finalized at non formal and informal learning based on the protagonism of young people involved;
• to foster the exchange between young people and social inclusion
• to improve self-confidence and self-esteem;
• to improve the awareness of themselves and of the world around them, the ability to speak and relate to languages other than their own
• to facilitate the transition to independent life
• to strengthen the capacity of partner organizations and their educators to work in an international context, also through effective collaboration and exchange of good practices and applied methodologies
• to create and test, through the project, a stable European network of collaborations on treated themes.
Host institution and leader of the project:
Social cooperative “Il Sogno di una Cosa ONLUS, Collegno (TO), 9 young people involved (8 with mild disabilities or medium mild disabilities and 1 with less opportunities) with 4 accompanists.
The Cedar Foundation O.N.G., Sofia, Bulgaria, 7 young people involved (all of them with mild disabilities or medium disabilities) with 4 accompanists.
Association Fenêtres, Charbonnières les Bains, Lion, France, 6 young people involved (5 with mild disabilities and 1 with less opportunities) with 4 accompanists.
Meeting with some representatives of the three partners aimed at preparing the actual exchange.
Preparatory Activities, Activation of the groups:
they are the activities that each partner has played in his country, which are preparatory at the time of meeting and exchange. Each partner organized some meetings with young participants, aimed at learning and exchanging on the topics treated by the project: household autonomy, kitchen and food, use of basic technologies (cellular, internet and computer), pedestrian autonomy, money management autonomy, integrating autonomy as the use of its own city’s public services, spatial orientation within its own territory.
Activities for exchange of knowledge and ability between peers:
aims at acquiring and / or increasing knowledge and skills related to the theme of autonomy. In Turin, from 13 to 20 June 2017, the three groups of young people, with the accompanists, took part in a shared training experience on the subject of autonomy, through a “non-formal and informal” learning path to improve awareness of themselves and of the world around them, in a climate of friendship and peer exchange.
The themes of the exange were:
• spatial orientation and pedestrian autonomy, use of technologies
• food and cooking, sharing of typical national and regional dishes
• domestic autonomy and home management
• awareness of personal identity and of the relationship with others.
For each of these themes there were moments of group discussion, within a classroom offered by the SFEP training agency in Turin (partner of the project also for monitoring the evaluation), but also, and above all, moments of practical experimentation in indoor and outdoor places.
The project, on the base of the voice of the participants and the evaluation questionnaires, can be considered fully successful, going beyond our most exquisite expectations. The young people involved were able to play in a “peer-to-peer” context, while at the same time experiencing the dimension of being “European citizens”, elements that have contributed considerably to the growth of their self-esteem and personal security. In addition, the comparison with different approaches and policies on the autonomy of people with disabilities has been very enriching for all three organizations involved, comparison thanks to which we have developed new ideas and projects that we hope will be able to develop in the future.
Watch a video: “Erasmus +, Leaving the Nest”