Romana Michaela Michalíková
V.I.A.C. - Institute for youth support and development
Our main objective is to promote a democratic culture of living in diversity and in tolerance to differences among people from Orava and start to form positive attitudes of being open to those who are different among children at the age from 3 – 8 years old and also among their teachers and parents.
Our activities will take place in Trstená, Slovakia, in rural region Orava.
Our region is rural and there is a very low level of tolerance to differences. It brings following societal challenges:
Strong support of extremism. In the last elections, Slovak extremist political party ĽSNS got high support among voters from Orava. In one of the villages ĽSNS got the highest support from all Slovakia (20% of all votes). People here can see extremism as real solution.
Lack of tolerance not only to minorities or people coming from different cultures, but even to own neighbours who live in social poverty or who just have different opinion.
Affecting children who accepts the attitudes of adults and behave according to them. Their parents speak about others who are different with hatred and children grow with inner resistance and tendency to violent solution.
Our aim is to build bridges among general population and those who are disadvantaged from many reasons and to create equal space for everybody. We also want to strengthen the position of those who are disadvantaged in our region, help them develop their potential and create a space for them to be more involved. One of the principles of democracy is to create equal space for everybody so their voice can be heard. When we strengthen their position in our community and create a space for them to be more involved, they won’t be those who are invisible but they start to be more engaged. Also our local community will be more open to people who are different and it will led to solidarity and mutual help if needed.
The main target group is children at the age of 3 – 8 years old. We want to focus on general population as well as on those who are disabled or disadvantaged due to health, social status or due to any other reasons. The second main target group is parents. We want to increase the impact on children, and it cannot be done without support of their parents as they are the most important persons in forming attitudes process.
The last target group is teachers at kindergartens and schools as those who work directly with children and who support good atmosphere within their peer groups.
We will use our own methodology of hand-made dolls developing sensitivity among children. There are 5 different dolls – blind, living in poverty, Roma minority, physically disabled and last one belongs to general population, but can be also considered as somebody whose disability is not visible (f.e. autistic). We want to create those dolls and spread the methodology to all kindergartens and primary schools in Orava.
We will develop materials for them to be able to follow the education of children in kindergartens and schools and work with it at home. We want to develop web portal with webinars and videos about education of children with special needs with counselling service and establish rental of educational tools that help education of those children.
The methodology of dolls will be used in almost all schools and kindergartens in Orava. Relations among children at schools and kindergartens will improve, they will be more open to others who are different and will be able to accept them. Children with disabilities and special needs will be more involved and they will get better chance to develop their potential and self-confidence. Teachers will get the methodology and materials that help them open up topics that are not opened up among children now. Parents will also get the possibility to be involved in education of their children and they will get sufficient information how to work with children with special needs. They will be able to borrow educational tools that helps them work with these children.
One of the most important values of democracy is the respect to human life and equal access to everybody. If we start forming children since the early age they will be better prepared for accepting those with disabilities or special needs. It will build bridges among children who belong to general population and who lives in poverty. Education is also of the powerful tools how to strengthen those who are weak to get out of poverty. To help them develop their skills is the way to building their self-confidence so their voice will be heard and they will become more engaged. We believe that building democracy in Europe starts from the local levels and local initiatives and then based on results it can be spread to national and international level.
One of our main topics is mental health of young people. We support them to think, feel and build relation in healthy way. In our work we can see many young people who lives loneliness because they are not accepted by others and it affects their life and self-value in very negative way. As the main mission of our NGO is the highest level of everybody we want to stand for those vulnerable young people. We realize that it is not only about working with them but also about working with their surroundings to be able to support them to discover their personal value and reach the highest level they deserve as everybody else.
We are strongly focused on values and character development of young people as they are those who will be responsible for the situation of our region and of our country.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Material for hand-made dolls, print 8000 €
Personnel costs (project coordinator, dolls creators, web portal administrators, experts for discussions and webinars) – 18000 €
Preparing CD with songs about stories of dolls – 6000 €
T-shirts with dolls as promotion of main idea of this project – 1000 €
Programming portal for parents – 10000 €
Educational tools for for work with disabled children – 7000 €
Any recommendations how to push the idea in national level, so we can really reach the impact of getting this idea to school curricula. And also interesting ideas of activities that can be used for children at this early age to raise them in the topics of tolerance.