In 2017, more than 200 children benefited from the “Summer with Purpose” project and enjoyed holidays at summer or autumn camps. The Naked Heart Foundation trained staff from nine regional NGOs and funded camps run by seven organisations. Furthermore, 144 employees and volunteers learnt about effective methods of working with children and young adults with autism.
Find out how it went:
Find out more about the training sessions held in New Mexico and click here to see the list of organisations that took part in the project in 2017 here.
Which methods are used at camp and how do they help children with autism?
Camp is an opportunity for specialists to learn how to use evidence-based support strategies, which are essential for their daily work with children with special needs.
Thanks to these methods, all the children and young adults involved in the project were able to stay at our camps, participate in games and activities and enjoy their summer holidays. The strategies helped children who were living away from their parents for the first time feel comfortable in their new environment.
“These camps provide an opportunity for special children to feel comfortable. This atmosphere helps them open up and learn new things.” – Natalia, English club, “Small country – WE Exist!” Tula
As part of “Summer with Purpose”, we train specialists to use the following eight evidence-based support strategies:
Routines: Performing the same sequence of activities, so that the person knows with what is going on.
Partial participation: Simply being in the vicinity of the action.
Taking the time to process: The person is given time to find the right words or take action.
Sensory integration: When children with special needs are trying to process a lot of information at the same time, the world becomes a confusing place.
Positive reinforcement: An object, topic of conversation or activity that supports the new, positive behavioural model.
Visual support: A visual means of indicating to a person with special needs where to go and what to do next.
Functional communication: A way of indicating one’s needs and desires.
Structured environment: A way of organising the environment and objects so that a person with special needs clearly understands what they need to do and what is going on around them.
What did the children learn?
“We see changes in every child. Alina, a 13-year-old girl with autism, could barely communicate, did not look people in the eye and was only able to reply to questions. By the end of camp, she was dancing at the disco, asking questions, approaching people and initiating conversation, and looking people in the eye. Before she attended camp, she did not go out and was home-schooled. For the first time in her life she was able to ride a horse, go to a disco, try on roller skates and even swim in the pool, while previously she had flatly refused.” – representative from the NGO “Future is”, Cherepovets
“We saw some excellent results:
With the help of a timer, Stepa learned to get out of the sea without panicking.
Sasha started to use new words in conversation.
Ruslan stopped requiring gadgets.
The “social stories” method helped Misha react more calmly to losing games.
Denis started to have his lunch with the other children.
Egor, just like all the other children, felt more comfortable thanks to the visual support.” – Natalia Shevchenko, head specialist, United Hearts Foundation, Ukraine
“The camp boosted our children’s development. Vladik went to camp without his parents for the first time. He followed instructions and tried to be more independent: he washed his dishes, helped to arrange chairs… He also become more independent at home and offered help around the house. A special achievement for us was that we managed to persuade Vlad to go on a boat – he had never agreed to do that before.” – Alexandra, Vlada’s mum, “The Road” association, Petrozavodsk
“A month has passed since he came home from camp, but Kostya doesn’t cease to amaze us with his achievements. He has become more mature, more responsible, more independent. It is easier to negotiate with him and he is interested in more things.” – Marina, mum of Konstantin, “Life Path” foundation, Moscow
What are the participants saying say about the camp sessions?
“After such an incredible five-day adventure, the children returned home transformed, with parents reporting significant changes. It turned out that these children could be independent. With the help of skilled professionals, they felt secure enough to step out of their comfort zone, even if it was just to try a new dish, stop using gadgets or get out of the sea without panicking. It was a new and exciting experience for both parents and professionals.” – United Hearts Foundation, Ukraine
“The Naked Heart experts and the extraordinary Katheleen Mo Taylor filled us with emotion, strength and confidence. Each child’s personality revealed itself in a new way. I am more than happy to share this new knowledge with other people.” – Alesya Kartasheva, programme specialist, “Small Country – WE EXIST!”, Tula;
How do we spread knowledge?
Don’t forget about all those who have taken part in our “Summer with Purpose” training in previous years. Having undergone that training, they are continuing to spread knowledge among their colleagues from other NGOs. The summer camp run by Chelyabinsk organisation “Star Rain”, which has participated in the project in recent years, was attended by representatives from various other regional organisations. At our International “Every Child Deserves a Family” Forum, our colleagues from Chelyabinsk described how they passed on their experience to others:
About the project
Since 2011, thanks to the Naked Heart Foundation, more than 3,700 children have participated, made friends and gained new skills and experience in integrative summer and autumn camps. Since 2015, we have been conducting training sessions for specialists from regional NGOs that organise camps for children with special needs.
>>> Watch a lecture from our Forum about “Summer with purpose” project…
>>> Learn more about the training in New Mexico…
>>> Read other news…