Human rights, Social inclusion

Turning disability into ability

Assisting disabled and their respective families to more actively participate in the society and to become active citizens.


Who is behind this?

Jerca Kozelj

Zavod za razvijanje in izvajanje podporih storitev za samostojno življenje - ZRIPS



Idea pitch

Based on our experience as providers of personal assistance to disabled (users) in Slovenia, we observe that our users and their families are often uninvolved in society and mostly limited to their family social bubble. Within this project, our aim is to (i) identify and categorize our users’ skills and abilities; (ii) identify their (and their assistants’) possible contributions to society (e.g. participating in harvesting, tutoring,...); (iii) organizing such events in local communities.

Where will your project idea take place?

The activities will take place all over our country, mostly (but not limited to) in the countryside.

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

Social challenges that our projects addresses are:
(i) social exclusion of users and their families. It is also a great challenge to provide support to families who are often left out while providing demanding daily care for the disabled. Families do not have a support network, people with whom they can share their experiences, talk about the problems they face, and look for solutions. The challenge is to help users and families expand their social networks.
(ii) acceptance of the disabled by a wider community, awareness that they too can contribute to society and be active in the daily life of the local community.

Both challenges apply to most regions, but especially to smaller, rural areas, which is the acceptance of the disabled as equal members of society.

Who are you doing it for?

Our target group is adults between 18 in 65 years old with different disabilities (our “users”), whom we are providing personal assistance, as well as their respective family members and their personal assistants. Presently, we are providing personal assistance to roughly 50 users with the numbers growing by roughly 20 per year. We have around 90 personal assistants aged 18-75, and there are roughly 120 close family members of our users. Our aim si to include at least 30 users, 60 close family members, and 40 personal assistants, in total roughly 130 people.

How do you plan to get there?

1. Step: to invite users, assistants, and family members of the users into the project.
2. Step: to find strong points of our users – where they can contribute and how
3. Step: to find out who wants to participate in the activities and who of them needs any help (in the field, with the vineyard, with cleaning, moving, painting...).
4. Step: to sort the different activities according to complexity. We will collect applications for each activity and try to ensure that all users have the opportunity to participate at least once. We will make sure that we organize various activities so that everyone can be involved, regardless of their specific needs.
5. Step: run different activities.
6. Step: Evaluation after every activity and in the end of the project.
Besides including individuals, we will also involve the local community and offer them our help (eg. cleaning campaign ...). We will organize a day in kindergarten, a visit to primary school, and a home for the elderly. We will include cultural events, such as visiting theaters, finding out how it works, libraries, organize the living library, collecting books... During all events, we will make sure that they are photo-documented because as a final project we will try to make jumbo posters of our users in action, while they are actively helping the local community and individuals.

What are the expected results?

We envisage the disabled users, and their family members, to become more independent and active members of society. The participants of our activities will ideally form a network, new friendships will be made. The family members will exchange experiences with the demanding daily care for the disabled, improving their mental health and fostering collaboration. Personal assistants will exchange care experiences. The disabled will have the opportunity to step out of their comfort zone, try something new, learn new skills, gain new knowledge and learn to also offer help to others. The community members (e.g. local teachers, librarians, farmers, fruit farmers... ) By doing so, they will greatly contribute to a better tomorrow, both in the community and to individuals.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

Our main idea is active citizenship for people with disabilities. We will organize activities in the local community that will contribute to the well-being of people with disabilities as well as people living in the local community (eg. through cleaning campaigns, helping the elderly…) With the help of our project, people with disabilities will make an important contribution to better every day and for local communities to see how many strong points our users have. There is a lot of interest in afternoon activities, events in which both users and their family members and assistants want to get involved. Sometimes they just need space and the opportunity to talk about their experiences and that is exactly what our project will allow them to do.

Why is this idea important to you?

Currently, the institute has 3 employees who will actively participate in the organization of the project. We will also work closely with Zveza Sožitje and their local societies, which are aware of their local communities, their characteristics, needs, and shortcomings as well. We have several years of experience in social care and management of various nationwide projects. The idea of turning disabilities into abilities was motivated mainly by our users and their positive view of the world, their desire for new experiences, friendships, learning, etc. We are also driven by their families, whose life is surrounded by the world that they know. It is important for us to get to know them and help them overcome the daily challenges.

€ 40000,-

Total budget

€ 35000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Staff costs: 18000
Travel expenses: 4000
The cost of renting equipment: 3000
The cost of protective equipment: 2700
Other materials costs: 7500
The cost of accommodation: 1000
Insurance costs: 1600
Advertising costs: 2200

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would like to get in touch with people, who already tried something similar, who works with our population. We would like to get more ideas, what else we can offer to our users and on which level we can include them, to become more seen in everyday life.



Idea created on April 23, 2021
Last edit on April 26, 2021

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