2017 – 2018 Part 1.
A Word from the Director
"Florence Centre” has successfully completed another year. And, in the summer we sum up our progress. Why in the summer? Because our life is measured as a school life - from August to June. And, what did we accomplish this year?
The 2017-2018 year was very full. All ten programs and projects worked, all the goals and tasks were fulfilled. The main event of the year is 10 years old celebration of the “Kangaroo Program, which is a part of the "Florence Centre”. At the anniversary celebration was present our German colleague and supervisor of the Program, Dr. Dieter Dammering. As a gift, we received new musical instruments for children and the possibility to hire one more specialist. We were suggested to expand the program "Kangaroo". Our great hope is to see new children in September.
No less significant was the annual concert "The World of Big Hearts". The number of participants in the concert and spectators continues to grow. The professionalism of children, both so-called normal and children with special needs, is striking. Also, the first steps of the integration of children in the joint number of amateur performances has already been made.
This year, the number of people who have received a variety of services in our organization; or, with whom we have just become acquainted through the implementation of various programs and projects has increased significantly. I would not be mistaken if I say that it’s up to a thousand people which have passed through our Center. These were different categories of the population: children, adolescents, people of advanced age. Many students have been practicing with us. The number of people and feedback give us hope to fathom what is needed in our work.
Suddenly, a big resonance in the society was received by the program "I am beautiful!" for women of advanced age. There have never been so many individuals, families, and organizations around us. We are pleased that through the social networks the participants of the project informed their friends and relatives about the project in North America, Europe and even Australia!
The programs at the school made it possible to learn more about the problems of children and adolescents, to make friends with schoolchildren and pedagogical collectives of schools. It was real cooperation and interaction!
A great discovery was the promotion of mediation programs in two schools. Teenagers in cooperation with the coordinators helped peers solve conflict situations. For our country, which, as before, is in a state of tension, conflict resolution at any level is a great achievement.
As always, I give my deepest regards to all the staff of the Florence Centre for their inspiration, professionalism and love of the profession and people.
Nothing could have happened if it had not been for the support of the Mennonite organizations from Canada and German specialists from Kinderforderverk who believed and supported us; and, which made it possible to implement all our programs.
Director L. Romanenkova
The Project "School Mediation"
This year we have been working on the development of conflict resolution centres in two schools of Zaporizhzhya.
Our staff conducted two four-day training sessions for 30 schoolchildren, students of grades 9-11 who were pre-qualified. During the sessions the children not only learned what conflict is, what approaches exist to resolve conflict situations; but, also were trained to provide services for peers in school conflict resolution centres. The result of the trainings was the development of two conflict resolution centres: “Phoenix” and “Eridan”.
During the year, mediators and coordinators of the centres managed to conduct 27 mediations for schoolchildren and 2 mediations to resolve conflicts between mediators. Also, the mediator of one of the schools conducted more than 7 mediations for friends and acquaintances outside the school. In total more than 50 people took part in mediation procedures (some schoolchildren applied repeatedly to solve various situations).
Monthly sessions of mediators were held, at which children updated knowledge on conflict resolution and prevention, developed classes and presentations for schoolchildren, shared mediation experience, etc. A total of 51 meetings were held in two schools during the year.
With the aim of advertising the work and maintaining a positive image of conflict resolution services, the mediators held 43 presentations. The meetings were attended by 730 students and 65 teachers.
With great pleasure, the mediators participated in the development and further conduct of preventive classes for schoolchildren on such topics as: "Conflict. Types of behavior in conflict "," Strategies for resolving conflict situations "," Ways of effective communication ". A total of 55 classes were held for 839 schoolchildren.
In order to present the results of the activity of mediators, the coordinators of the services regularly spoke at the pedagogical councils of schools (more than 70 teachers were present). The coordinators also informed parents in various ways that their children learn to resolve conflicts peacefully: coordinators at school shared the information at parents meetings, to class leaders. In total, more than 1,350 parents got the information about the project.
To exchange experience and plan the activities of school conflict resolution services, the Florence Centre regularly held consultative meetings for coordinators. Each time our employees saw energy, enthusiasm and the desire to continue working. Coordinators are open to new methods and forms of work. They want to attract new students to the process of mediation. Both coordinators gladly shared their experience, and rejoiced with the success of their children. They also noted that they did not expect such a positive result. Their mediators became very friendly teams! They have "exciting eyes", the children want to deal not only with mediation and conducting preventive classes; but, also with the organization of general school activities aimed at building tolerance and a positive attitude towards others.
Actually all mediators showed high social activity. Over the year, with the participation of mediators, schools organized social actions aimed at preventing established violence. Also, the mediators of one of the services acted as volunteers at our integrative concert "The World of Big Hearts ".
Additionally, on the initiative of mediators, two joint meetings of participants of two school conflict resolution services were held. The guys exchanged their experience and shared new ideas.
In general, it should be noted that this project was very necessary and useful in school life. Class leaders began to notice that the interaction between schoolchildren has changed, they are trying to apply the knowledge gained in practice and resolve conflicts in a peaceful, non-aggressive way. And for the mediators, the work in the school service brought positive moments: many increased their self-esteem, got rid of fear of public speaking, and part of the mediators were able to decide on their future profession.
"After the training I felt that I was not like everyone else. I have something more important in my head! "
"The conflict resolution service is like a breath of fresh air. Something new has appeared in school. "
"I almost quarreled with my mother yesterday. On another occasion, everything would necessarily end in a scandal, and so I applied the techniques "I-message" and paraphrasing and we could calmly talk. "
"My friends are no longer fighting. I told them how to solve conflicts differently."
The Project "Territory Z"
(Part of the Program “Healthy Lifestyle˝)
This year, the Florence Center began a new cycle of classes on this project for three schools. These are the same 9 classes with which the Centre started cooperation last year.
This year, the work was conducted with the psychosocial component of health, so the classes were held in the form of a training. The guys recognized themselves, others and learned to establish positive relationships within the team.
During the training sessions with the schoolchildren of 8th, 9th, and 10th grade, the trainers of the "Florence Centre” noted the high importance and necessity of holding such sessions. This is due primarily to the fact that during school activities, students do not have enough time for informal communication by the whole class. Most students noted that during the trainings they had the opportunity to learn a lot of new and interesting information about their classmates. Those who shared personal information with others, said that if not for the conditions created (cozy and trusting), then they would never have told about themselves. Also, this behavior was promoted by the rules that were adopted in each group at the beginning of the classes and which each coach watched tirelessly.
It was not easy for all schoolchildren to talk about themselves in the presence of classmates. It was much easier for the guys to put themselves in a negative light. But thanks to the support of each other, everyone successfully coped with the tasks.
At the last lesson in all groups, each child was asked to fill out the final form of the training participant. Some noted that it was very fun and informative. They managed to learn more about classmates, to be in different roles and just have fun. Other children wrote that they did not like it, because there were not enough entertaining games. There were also students who noted that they do not need training, since they did not learn anything new about others.
After the end of the classes with the schoolchildren, the staff conducted interviews with all the class leaders of the "Territory Z" project participants. Everyone said about the great need for such activities, noted the positive dynamics in the behavior of children and gave some very important recommendations for the future.
A total of 10 classes were held for each group. Training provides for limiting the number of participants in the group to 16 people. Therefore, each class was divided in half and classes were held with each group separately.
In total, the trainers conducted 159 classes - 3 classes in 3 schools. In two 10 classes the number of students (up to 20) did not allow to divide the class in half, so the coach worked with all students at the same time.
The number of students who passed classes is about 220 people.
Teachers were given lectures and practical classes on professional burnout, on sex education of schoolchildren and on the influence of the appearance of the teacher on his relationships with students, as well as training sessions on communication and conflict resolution.
In one of the schools, a practical lesson was held in the form of a quiz to familiarize teachers with the foreign experience of sex education of children. English and American test tasks were used as examples. A number of questions, according to teachers, cannot be asked for our children, as they are quite sensitive.
In view of the very high workload of teachers during school hours, meetings took place during school holidays.
A total of 9 meetings took place, attended by 67 teachers.
Work with parents included acquaintance with the course of training sessions and coverage of issues related to the sexual education of adolescents.
At the address of the class leaders of the two 6th grades of one of the schools, parents' meetings were held on issues of mental characteristics of adolescence.
For the parents there were 6 meetings (60 people).
In the context of cooperation, all participating schools were given books with training sessions: class leaders (9 classes in total) and in each school library. As we learned later, a psychologist from one of the schools immediately began to actively use materials from the donated books - she conducted several classes for schoolchildren in junior and middle school.
"Such lectures are needed, because not all teachers know how to dress properly in school"
"I remember the exercise when we untangled our hands. It was difficult, but interesting."
"I learned the calm forms of answers in the dispute."
"I thought all 10 classes that our class does not know how to work together. And today I suddenly saw that we can. Yes, and so easy! It's so cool!"
"I was helped to raise my self-esteem. And it turned out that in class they treat me much better than I thought. "
Participation in Seminars, Conferences
Throughout the past year, the staff of the “Florence Centre” actively participated in conferences and conducted training seminars by itself to share experiences.
This year our specialists visited the seminar of the City Social Work Service on innovative forms of work with older people. Participants were provided with master classes in dance and drawing.
Traditionally, the staff of the Centre participated in a training seminar and a two-day summit of our partner - the Mennonite Central Committee. The meetings were attended by representatives of 15 different non-governmental organizations from all over Ukraine, who implement social programs in all areas, ages and problems in education, health and peacemaking.
Also last year our experts took part in the conference "Experience and future perspectives of the development of regional inclusive education programs” which is supervised by the wife of the President, Marina Poroshenko. At the meeting, issues of integration of children with special needs in the Zaporizhzhya region and the city were considered.
As part of the speech at the educational fair "Learning in the USA" (Kiev), our staff member shared information about using the internship experience in the USA with the work of the “Florence Centre” as a base for students and colleges. The listeners showed a high level of interest in such an experience, especially students of the Master programs and teachers of Ukrainian universities.
Our staff made a presentation at the Internet seminar of Glukhov National University on innovative technologies in work with school teachers. Participants of the conference were offered a game form of work to consolidate knowledge - a quiz. Our employees shared their impressions about this method of work in the school and noted that teachers were happy to participate in the quiz.
All the staff of the Center were pleased to hear a lecture on the history of Mennonites in Russia and Ukraine, using the example of the family of the long-standing partner of the Florence Center, Boris Letkeman, the director of the Mennonite family home. The story so shocked the audience with the depth of the dramatic events that some were crying.
The "Florence" Center together with the Classical Private University took part in the organization and holding of the international conference "European perspectives of the meaning of life". Scientists from the USA, Germany, Romania and Ukraine were invited as speakers. The director of “Florence Centre”, Lyudmila Romanenkova, provided a report on the topic: "The meaning of life - what does it mean in the difficult conditions of Ukraine?"
In all, about 100 people attended the conference. The main theses of the conference were presented in the media of the city.
The “Kangaroo” Program
The program "Kangaroo" is engaged in early social rehabilitation of children with special needs from 0 to 7 years. For parents of children under 2 years of age, counseling and diagnostic assistance is provided. During the year, 4 such consultations were held. Children from 2 years of age visit our program. For 2017 - 2018 the group was visited by 18 children.
This year, thanks to the help of other organizations, we managed to acquire methodological and developing materials: cubes of Zaitseva, inflatable pool, wooden and block designers, Gross simulator, musical instruments. All this significantly improves the activities of our program, makes the classes more interesting and substantive.
Daily classes in the creative workshop help children develop creative abilities, fine motor skills, and train assiduity. Thanks to the teacher Alla, children make informative trips. This is the underwater world with funny cut octopuses, and fabulous houses with plasticized furniture, and a dense forest with toed bears and insects made of natural material. Especially bright and unusual were the classes where children grew animals from a capsule in water and made crafts from natural materials.
Teachers of the program in every possible way instill in children a careful attitude to nature. In early spring, the children planted seeds in the ground and grew beets, pumpkins, beans. Together with the students, our playground was landscaped. Now the children on a walk do not forget to water their favorite flowers every day. With the onset of cold weather, a bird feeder was hung and the children fed them with sunflower seeds and breadcrumbs throughout the winter.
Thanks to our staff member Dmitry, children are very fond of sports. Days of sport, cycling, sports, active games, exercise therapy, swimming pool - all this helps to develop and strengthen the physical health of children, teaches children to work in a team and interact with each other. Especially children very much like to lay out geometric figures on colors, stepping over, creeping and avoiding obstacles. It is very fun to travel on the "train" with the funny stations where children perform physical exercises. Every morning begins with a musical gymnastics, which takes place not only in the group, but also in the playground, in the park. Classes on the Gross simulator help to train the vestibular apparatus, develop coordination of movements of children.
It was very fruitful to work with a music therapist (40 lessons) this year. Each lesson poses new tasks for the kids: they learn to dance in pairs, sing simple syllables, tap the rhythm of the song, "turn" into animals and mimic their movements, conduct in front of the orchestra of musicians. At the end of each lesson, children listen to classical instrumental music, which helps them to calm down and concentrate.
This year, our program has new activities. This is canistherapy - therapy of children through communication with dogs. During the year 6 sessions were held, and this has already yielded positive results for many children. Now we have a new friend - the dog Hillary, with whom children play with pleasure, train her, tell stories, etc. For some children, petting the dog was a difficult test, but after a few lessons the guys started combing, feeding from the palm, showing the parts of the dog's body and even hugging that shaggy friend.
Another innovation - game "cinema". Children go through all the procedures of going to the cinema: they buy tickets with "money", they find their place by the ticket number. During this year, the children watched 10 cartoons, thanks to which the children learned to make friends, share, respect the elders and much more.
The most important aspect remains the socialization of children in society. Thanks to the head of the program Alexandra, this year we managed to make 17 outlets." These are excursions, horseback riding, a pet store, a shopping center, a theater, a library and other public places. We thank all students and volunteers from the Red Cross who helped us at such events.
The trip to the entertainment center "Fly Park", during the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the "Kangaroo" program, became memorable. Together with parents, employees and German colleagues, the children spent an unforgettable time in the wonderful children's world. Very pleased that the parents showed initiative in communicating with their children, although this communication is sometimes very difficult for them. Children and parents were able to establish that emotional contact that some families do not have.
A visit to the concert at the music school showed how important it is to train the assiduity of our kids. Many children proudly coped with this difficult task.
And, of course, the annual integrative concert "World of Big Hearts". The main achievement was the entrance to the stage of a child who was forbidden to take pictures and make a video with his participation. Her mother's words: "Is it too late for us? We want to try to show up. "We were very pleased. What a happy girl this was on the big stage! She felt like a real star! This, probably, is the goal to which we aspire - to give our kids unforgettable moments of joy and delight, which they certainly deserve!
Parents are very happy when children go to our Centre with pleasure. There were also complex cases when the child was hard to adapt, but after 2 weeks he was happily running to his beloved teachers. Our employees are very fond of children and give them care and warmth. No wonder the children call them "dads" and "moms".
Our irreplaceable assistant, nurse Irina, not only teaches the kids self-service items, nursery rhymes, but thanks to her the most difficult children on the trip behave much more calmly.
Many children this year experienced their first important life experience:
- A. first performed on stage in front of the audience and her parents gave permission for photo and video shooting;
- M. first visited a large shopping center;
- N. for the first time overcame his fear and caressed the horse;
- K. first made a walk in the park;
- A. said the first word "thank you".
All this and many other important changes in the lives of our pupils are constantly occurring.
"I calmed down, and I'm very glad that the child is happy to run to you in the Centre ..."
"I do not want to go home, I'm having fun here."
"The child at your place is engaged, fulfills all regime moments, and at home we cannot do anything. How do you do it? "
Work with Foreign Specialists
This year the "Florence Centre” was visited by several guests from Canada. These were our partners from the Mennonite Benevolent Society (Winnipeg, Canada). The staff of the Centre conducted a presentation of programs and projects. Colleagues really liked the bright videos and funny photos. But the biggest impression on the guests was made by the project "I'm Beautiful!"
Welcome to Ukraine
Also, the Centre hosted a guest from Canada Adel Wagner. Adel came to Ukraine to visit her birthplace (Novoselenoye village, Novonikolaevsky district). She also got acquainted with the sights of Zaporizhzhya and visited the island of Khortytsya.
After the visit, our Canadian guest Adel Wagner said:
"I really enjoyed my visit here and, first of all, thanks to good planning, I was so happy to meet all of you and as you said, you are now my Ukrainian family!"
We are very pleased that this year our ideas were supported by more than 40 people who tried to help in everything: to walk on the playground with the kids of the Kangaroo program, accompany them during their trips and excursions and participate in group and individual sessions, develop methodological materials for classes, to organize games at a concert, etc.
This year our volunteers were students of the Zaporizhzhya National University, Economic and Law College of ZNU, Zaporizhzhya National Technical University, as well as volunteers of the Red Cross. We are very grateful to them all for the help they provided us. Our doors are always open to new people and ideas!