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Samana, an organization that is committed to support people with a chronical illness and their carers, attended the International Young Carers Conference in Malmö, May last year. We got back home, very much inspired with the lessons learned at the Conference and we elaborated a project. We found a driven partner in a school principal in Hasselt. He convinced two of his colleagues to participate in this project. Our goal? To work together towards a care-friendly school environment!
International research shows that giving care has a big influence on the social life and the schooling of Young Carers (YC’s). Together with YC’s, other pupils, teachers, principals and care coaches, we want to make the school a safe environment where YC’s feel understood and supported.
How do we want to do that?
The project has different stages;
- In the autumn of 2017 we started handing out questionnaires at the participating schools, for teachers and pupils. These questionnaires were drawn up with the help of different partners we met in Malmö. Questions are asked about YC’s, if the respondents know YC’s, if they are YC’s themselves, if they talk about it at school, etc. The results are very valuable, given the void of knowledge we have in Flanders about YC’s. At the same time, the questionnaires have also a sensitizing effect amongst the pupils and teachers at the school. We already collected 1700 forms.
- In January 2018 we organized a meeting with pupils, teachers, care coaches, members of the staff and someone from the pedagogical counseling service. Together we brainstormed about what a Care-friendly school would look like. At the same time, we clustered all those ideas into very concrete action plans. 4 project groups were formed, each with their own action plan. They will be supported by Samana.
- In May 2018 there will be a presentation at the participating schools. There we will show the results of the questionnaires, together with the outcome of the four action plans. Our minister of Welfare, the press, teachers, principals, pupils, parents, care coaches, members of the board, and every stakeholder will be invited.
This project is a pilot. We will learn lessons, refine our methodology where needed to create an easy-to-use toolbox for schools. Schools that choose to become more care-friendly, are welcome to engage in the project. Samana will support them. In that way, we hope to support as many YC’s as possible in Flanders!
For further information, please contact: Kathleen van Walle.