Network A Facilitating access and return to the labour market for those who have difficulty in being integrated or reintegrated into a labour market which must be open to everyone.
Project name Life Skills Program for Mentally Competent Youth and Young Adults with Physical Disabilities MISARN
Project number A0126

Project description

The Partnership was established to ensure equal opportunities to young people aged 18-24, intellectually fit but with motor disabilities, for starting private, social and occupational life on their own. The "Educational Leadership Centre" Foundation has initiated and is administering the Partnership, joined by institutions and organisations for the disabled and partners pursuing the idea of a labour market that is open to all.

Available surveys of young disabled people reveal certain patterns of their complicated situation and problems faced by them and their family members. Assistance forms, as offered by state agencies, do not encourage self-dependence of young people and compel them to use external help. They fail to encourage pro-active approach or support the struggle for independence in their adult life. First barriers are encountered at school - disabled children face difficult access to instruction, they are arbitrarily compelled to follow individualised teaching path, while being prevented from integration with their physically fit peers; they are not assisted in taking the successive steps of education. As a consequence, young disabled people have relatively poor skills and inadequate knowledge, so that they are not competitive on the employment market. There is one more serious problem: a lack of psychologist's support to the parents of disabled children, who tend to focus on their children and inadvertently contribute to their continuing dependence. They are aware of the absence of any meaningful employment policy for the disabled and are thinking with anxiety of their capacity to earn a living as adults.

A survey carried out under Activity 1 has revealed that the existing system of financial and medical assistance to the disabled is inefficient. Therefore, it is necessary to work out a complete offer that would meet all the needs and expectations of the disabled, so that they are helped to become active members of the society.

Final Project beneficiaries are Young Intellectually Fit People with Motor Disabilities aged 18 to 24 years, who live in Warsaw. The activities carried out under the Partnership will involve at least 150 people, while educational materials, the Internet portal and publication will reach additional 1000 or more people. The Project is targeted at young men and women of various educational backgrounds and level of disability. Indirect beneficiaries of the Project are parents (or guardians), those professionally involved in assistance to the disabled, administration or local government officers working in that field, representatives of non-government organisations, employers and representatives of specific trades, especially those associated with public services.

Two studies will be carried out under the Project, namely: a) a study on living skills and related development or improvement needs; and b) a study on so-called life trajectories. The studies will involve the beneficiaries, their parents and professional providers of aid to the disabled. The results of the studies will serve as a basis for the elaboration of a model living skills development programme, which is to be tested throughout the Project. The participants will attend the following modules: citizen advice, motor activity training, summer school - integration/educational workshops, secondary to higher school transition, school/university to labour market transition. The modules will enable the participants to develop citizen skills, improve the knowledge of their rights (and enhance their self-confidence), to promote pro-active lifestyles and get an insight into everyday problem solving methods.

Those working with young disabled people will have an opportunity to enrol into new postgraduate course for career planning advisors. The graduates from that course will provide professional assistance to the beneficiaries in planning a career in line with their capabilities and interests.

Social workers will have an opportunity to attend the "Against Helplessness" training courses, intended to improve their professional competence and skills in dealing with this specific group of aid recipients.

In addition, the Partnership is intended to change public attitudes and combat stereotypes associated with the involvement of disabled people in public life. In practice, these activities will include training events for public transport workers, so that the disabled are able to use municipal transport vehicles. This will also include a system of efficient public information. Beneficiaries and other interested parties will have access to databases, hotline and Internet portal.

The new methods helping to build a society wherein the disabled enjoy unrestrained access to any fields they are interested in, as well as practical results hereunder will be disseminated in cooperation with other Partnerships providing support to the disabled. This will improve efficiency and reach of Activity 3.