We have two wonderful events with our youths that we want to share information about in this report.
The first one took place last year in December and we devoted it to the upcoming holidays. Our team organized a Christmas Party for youths and volunteers in Sofia. There were lots of dancing, games and gifts. Still we did not miss the educational element in our party. Part of the questions in our Christmas quiz were chosen in a way to enrich the youths knowledge on interesting facts connected to customs and traditions on how Christmas and New Year are celebrated in different countries all over the world. There were also questions that required logical thinking to be answered and of course some gamesome questions just for fun. For each correct answer the youths received awards and for the wrong ones – consolation prizes, so each one of the participants was happy. The most wonderful of this event was that volunteers and youths had the chance to know each other better and as a result, new friendships between them were created!
For the children and youths in Gabrovo we decided to buy several Board Games and two of our volunteers carried the presents there. The games were selected in a way to be educative and to develop logical thinking and ability to make decisions. We believe that through the games the children and youths can learn and develop skills with positive emotions and willingness.
The second event was organized in February 2015. This was our opening joint event for the New Year and we wanted the topic to be something that will give a positive start of the year. One of our volunteers is a Laughing Yoga instructor and she was willing to provide a Yoga class for the youths and volunteers. Together we decided that during the class she will also give some information on the importance to think positively, to laugh more often and how it influences to our body and minds as well as to be able to relax both our bodies and our minds. Development of such abilities could be really helpful in our everyday life when we encounter difficulties and have stressful situations. Having a clear and peaceful mind in crises situations can help you come to a solution more easily and without wasting time in panic and worry. During the class, the youths at first were a little bit reserved, but with the time they fully participated in the exercises. This was a completely new experience for the youths and we are really happy that at the end they thanked us for organizing such event and wished to have more meetings like this in the future.
Our team wants to express our gratitude to all of you who support us and give us the chance to bring smiles on the faces of children and youths who live without parental care. It is you who make this possible!
We believe that with your support during 2015 we can continue organizing many different trainings and events for the youths and help them prepare for their independent living after leaving care.
Step for Bulgaria team
Time flies by so quickly and it’s been three months since our last report, so I’m in a hurry to share with you the updates on our project.
In May I told you about our new initiative with children and youths living in care in Gabrovo, called “Movie Perspective”. I told you about the projection of specially selected movies and the discussions and the “acting”, but you still don not know about the next step and challenge that children and youths faced.
It was planned that after the 4-th projection the participants will be presented the opportunity to write their own scenario and shoot a short film such as real actors. Do you want to know what happened? – The children and youths were overwhelmed by the idea! And they realized this project really successfully.
Supported by our volunteer-director, the group wrote a scenario. They were given the opportunity to choose some of the Bulgarian famous actors (friends and colleagues to our volunteer) whom to be invited to take part in the movie. Well, this was really a hard task – the group members had different preferences and reaching a consensus at a certain point seemed like being impossible. There were long discussions and argumentations. Finally decision was made and the process continued.
After having the scenario, roles had to be allocated. There were several rehearsals and when the group felt sure about their performance, the day of shooting the movie was selected. A whole professional team was engaged in this – camera man, stage-manager, make-up artist, sound director (all of them doing it pro-bono) and of course the most important were the actors – our children and youths.
They were all very happy and pleased by themselves. And it was not without reason. Last month was the “premiere” of the movie and children and youths could see the product of their efforts and they loved the movie!
We, as professionals, love the “hidden” product of this activity which for us is priceless – and these are the skills that our children and youths managed to acquire while having fun. During the process there were many situations that they had to present ideas (thoughts) and to give argumentation. Constantly they had to communicate with others and to work as a team. Each of them had certain responsibilities that had to be carried out. We also notices a change in the microclimate of the group – up to this moment there were two main sub-groups: the children form the Institution and the youths from the Protected House (two types of social services). The two groups did not mix and often straining at a gnat. After shooting the movie together, we noticed starting friendships between representatives of the different groups and changed attitudes.
We strongly believe that this experience will be very helpful for the children and youths when they leave care and start living independent life. The abilities to communicate effectively with different people, to take responsibilities and to be a team-work player are among the main life-skills.
Thank you for making this possible by supporting our project and cause!
Please do not hesitate to tell your friends and colleagues about what we do and why you chose to make a donation. We believe that children and youths living in care deserve a better chance and only your support can help us provide it!
It is almost September and we are at the threshold of the new school year. This inspired me to tell you more about the academic successes of our youths.
During the last six months our volunteers worked intensively with four youngsters leaving care – finishing their secondary school and willing to continue their education in University. This period was full of emotions – both for the youngsters and the volunteers. There were many positive emotions connected with the proms celebrating the successful finish of secondary school. And of course there were lots of worries about the school-leaving examinations. It was not an easy task!
Our youngsters did their best – they took extra classes on the exam subjects and all of them managed to pass the exams successfully. This was the moment when hard decisions had to be made. There were a lot of questions to be asked: Which University to choose? What specialty do I want to study? How to fill in my documents for the exam? How to get to this or that University? And the most difficult question – What will happen to me when I leave care? Our volunteers had to answer daily to such questions. They supported the youngsters in making their choices and actually doing the necessary steps. They encouraged the youths when needed, studied together, gave clarifications on documents and sometimes it was necessary to push them a bit and to follow closely their actions.
And the results were soon at hand – three of our youngsters will be first-year students in a month. Soon they all will have to leave the social services and take their live in their own hands. Our volunteers and our team will be next to them and we will continue supporting them in their first steps to independent living. We strongly believe that these youngsters have potential and due to your contribution, they also had the opportunity to be part of our project.
Thank you for being our friends and our partners - your support made all this possible!
Inspired by our new volunteers we started new initiative with our youths in Gabrovo, called “Movie Perspective”. The idea of this initiative is to enable underprivileged youths to look at the world through the example of heroes, characters and stories of the national and international movies.
Movies are unique in this that through them in a synthesised way a story of the life of different personages is presented just in an hour and a half, but affects perceptions of the one who watches for a long time. Through the power of personal example, youths can be "pushed" to change their behaviour in a good direction.
In three months (once per week) the young people will be projected specially selected movies by professional director – one of Step for Bulgaria volunteers. The topics of the movies were selected after a long consideration and carefully arranged. In each of the movies present youth as the main hero, to which youths can compare. The stories shown in the movies are connected with the problems which young underprivileged people confront during teenage. In this way, the stories and characters are closer to the reality of the youths, which excites their interest and helps attract and hold their attention.
After each projection, the youths are led into a discussion on what they’ve seen – different role models, whether something impressed or inspired them. After that they “play” a scene they liked the most putting themselves in the shoes of real actors, guided and instructed by the director. This “acting” is not only the funniest part but also quite useful as the youths learn how to work as a team, take a responsibility for their actions, lead other people in a concrete task. It also improves their social skills and their self-esteem – especially when they get a big applause from the audience (e.g. the other youths in the group).
We will keep you informed on the updates and results of this initiative. Thank you all for making this possible!
The Step for Bulgaria team
I’m happy to announce that our Foundation officially became Center for Work with Volunteers. We took this step as we believe that one of our biggest strengths is our volunteers. At the end of 2013 we purposefully started to recruit volunteers who want to work with disadvantaged children and youths and help them acquire knowledge and skills for their independent living.
In December 2013 we trained the first group of 20 volunteers who already started their individual work with underprivileged children. Currently there are 13 children and youth from Sofia that receive support by the volunteers.
Before being introduced to a volunteer we make individual assessment of the necessities of the child and we define the field in which support is needed. Together with the volunteer we make personalized program based on the needs of the child.
Most often the volunteers help the children to increase their self-esteem and the trust in their own abilities. Children and youths also receive support in how to improve their communication skills.
None of this would be possible without your support! Thank you for being with us!
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