EQ has been recognised by the NNC as being among 5 Bulgarian organisations demonstrating best practice in child / youth participation.
For this reason, we hosted a visit on 23-24th October by members of the NNC secretariat and organisations eager to share experience in this field.
Guests were introduced to regional policies for children and young people by municipal representatives – Mariela Licheva – Director of Health and Social Assistance and Irena Petrova – Director of Culture and Education. The solid partnership between local government and NGOs in the municipality impressed the participants and provoked many questions about models of collaboration.
Our discussions featured both the main components of the NNC’s platform for youth participation and activism (Megaphone) and demonstration from Steffi and Elena on EQ’s extensive repertoire of methods of working with children with special needs in a group context in a participatory manner including our collaboration with local schools that involves both the development of volunteerism and community activism and support for students that are failing academically of behaving disruptively.
The sharing of experience with other service providers revealed the multifaceted challenge of reconciling principles designed on a child rights platform and applicable to Everychild with the need to consider the special needs of specific children in groups that are frequently mismatched in terms of age, experiential background, educational attainment, ethnicity and cultural profile. David Bisset explained that despite the prevalence of educational under-achievement and challenging behaviour – the one thing that our young clients have in common is the fact that each is different from the other. This is why the development of the EQ approach reveals itself in the transition between a 2010 publication exploring mainstream ideas on child participation to a more recent compendium of “games and adventures”. The apparent randomness and broad variety of the compendium reflects the principles of the multiple intelligences approach to education (the provision of a variety of opportunities) and adventure as a means of providing big experiences as an antidote to socially disruptive behaviours, inattentiveness and hyperactivity.
Group members, warming to the message – Equal opportunity does not mean equal access – brainstormed and shared anecdotes with members of the team from the complex. They also explored the facilities at the complex and met young clients who shared their “books of success” in which they record landmarks and personal achievements and reveal a great deal about their personalities, preferences and talents – information that is conveyed to parents and guardians. This is just one of the tools used to help children guide the decisions we make that impact on their lives and shape our programme.