Thanks to the Naked Heart Foundation, children and young people with special have needs been able to enjoy a “Summer with purpose” and have fun at our integrative holiday camps.
The Summer with Purpose project is implemented under our Every Child Deserves a Family programme. Every summer since 2011, the Naked Heart Foundation has supported projects to run integrative summer camps, which play an important role in the development and socialisation of children and young people with special needs. The camps are run based on training programme that was specially developed by the Foundation in collaboration with leading experts from the University of New Mexico for specialists from NGOs who are selected to take part in the project and organise developmental breaks for children. Since the project was launched, 1,300 families have had the opportunity to take part in the camps. The overall budget for the project is almost 28 million roubles.
This year, four organisations were selected to take part in the Summer with Purpose project:
1. “Markhamat” charitable foundation, Ufa
2. “Osobye ludi” (“Special people”) association, Yekaterinburg
3. “Integratsiya” (“Integration”), Kemerovo
4. Centre for social adaptation, rehabilitation and habilitation, Saint Petersburg
In Leningrad Region, the camp was supervised by Naked Heart experts Tatiana Morozova and Svyatoslav Dovbnya, occupational therapist from the University of New Mexico and the Centre for Development and Disability Kathleen Taylor and specialists from the “Anton’s Right Here” centre. In Nizhny Novgorod Region, the camp was supervised by staff from the Naked Heart Family Support Centre. Each camp session lasted one week. It was an incredible experience for the kids, their parents, the helpers and volunteers and the specialists.
The kids and young adults spent the whole week at the camp without their parents, which for them was a huge achievement. For many of them, it was their first experience of independence.
These sessions help kids and young people with autism to become more independent and confident, and learn how to communicate better with specialists and their peers. The knowledge and skills gained at the camp are essential to helping them adapt to society and develop throughout the year.
Below is some feedback from camp participants:
Anya, volunteer at the camp in Leningrad Region:
“The Summer with Purpose camp for young people with ASD really does give everything a whole new meaning and significance. The camp experience allows kids to step outside their everyday lives, discover new places and find the courage to try new things – new activities, new people and new abilities.
You might wonder what you can really get done in five days, but they really do achieve a lot – one young person finally overcame his fear of boats and not only stood next to one, but also sailed on it; another person started brushing his teeth every morning, which he had not done before; another became more thoughtful towards other people; and someone else discovered the joys of making mosaics.
For me, this camp can be described using one word – “team”. Absolutely everyone – from those who designed the camp in such great detail to those who first visited the Anton’s Right Here Centre during the preparatory training and learned about ASD – they all worked passionately, tirelessly and with a big heart!
The specialists Mo, Tatiana and Svyatoslav were there for us in any tricky situation and were always willing to make suggestions and, if things didn’t work out, to make alternative suggestions to resolve issues. The experience, humour and deep warmth of all these people never ceased to inspire and encourage us, and confirmed that nothing was impossible, that we were tireless, that our hearts were open, and that everyone’s potential can be tapped so that they can discover new abilities and do new things – sometimes very simple things, but new things, which is very important.”
Elena Funtova, mother of a child at the camp in Nizhny Novgorod Region:
“My son Nikita attended the camp for the first time. To say that I was worried is an understatement, but everything went really well! A big thank you for the invitation, thank you to all those who helped Nikita, and a special thank you to Katia the helper.
For the first time in 16 years, Nikita was on his own, without us. And it’s great, fantastic! I didn’t think that anyone apart from me could understand my child, or that he would trust someone he didn’t know. He left scowling and came back a cheerful and happy child. All the organisers, helpers, teachers – you are all doing a very important thing for our children! And for Nikita, this is a small step towards independence.”
Yulia Mezinova, volunteer at the Summer with Purpose camp in Nizhny Novgorod Region:
“The week spent at the Summer with Purpose camp turned my world upside-down. I’d like to thank the magicians at the Naked Heart Foundation and my dream team from the Family Support Centre, without whom these five amazing days would not have been possible.
For four years running, young people with ASD have been able to spend five days at summer camp, in an atmosphere of fun and laughter, where they are always happy and are accepted just the way they are and no humiliating concessions are made for them. For five days, their parents can take a breather, before they go and pick up their much-loved children with tears in their eyes. When they are shown the photos and videos from the camp, they can’t believe that this is their child – the child who “is scared of dogs”, “has no interest in sports”, “doesn’t want to make friends with anyone”, “doesn’t eat pasta/potatoes”, etc.
I was trusted to be a helper to a wonderful girl and I hope I didn’t let her down. I went from being her helper to her friend and experienced a whole range of emotions, from tiredness and irritation to delight at my girl’s talents and the joy of seeing her achieve amazing things like scaling the climbing wall. She taught me patience, updated my playlist and reminded me how lovely it is to walk outside in the early morning when everyone else is asleep, and to breathe the cool August air, step on fresh dew and listen to the birds and the buzz of insects.”
>>> Find our what happened in 2017…
>>> Read other news…