Six teenagers from the family-type group home in Byala took part in a sports-adventure team building together with members of Equilibrium.
The children, who are between 13 and 16 years old, were removed from residential institutions last year. Since July 1st, 2016 the service and the new Centre for Social Rehabilitation and Integration in Byala has been managed by Equilibrium.
The aim of the camp was for children and adults to get to know each other, and to incorporate the kids into family life values – sharing household chores, helping and respecting each other, and taking decisions, based on the principle of “I win – you win”.
Another task of the seaside adventure was to expand the children’s experience – cognitive and social – and to develop new interests and abilities. The ambivalent reaction of the young adults to the activities offered didn’t surprise the EQ team. Having grown up in the closed and restricted environment of the institution, they accepted new things with anxiety, uncertainty, even fear – deep concern about being hurt or to be made fun of.
Underlying the typical teenage resistance to every suggestion made by the adults, was deep curiosity about the world resulting from a lost childhood. They made sand castles and sculptures with pleasure, flew kites on the beach, and participated in Neptune’s evening on the stage, situated on the seashore of Tyulenovo. The most frequent reactions to discussing the day’s plans were “What’s that?” and “Are we allowed to go there?” The children didn’t have a reference point for most of the things: what is a botanical garden, a scuba diver, a lighthouse, and what are the snorkels and flippers for?
Having said this, the comfort of a “family” atmosphere and mutual assistance unlocked in the kids a desire to keep the house clean, to demonstrate culinary skills and to take part in gardening. The discreet support of the adults awoke the kids’ adventurous spirit and they joyfully dived, jumped into the water, explored rocks and caves, and tried almost all kinds of sport at the new stadium in Shabla – football, athletics, fitness, climbing, volleyball, tennis and table tennis. The culmination was the paintball games, during which the instructors complimented the youngsters for their exemplary behavior. The neighbours in Tyulenovo did, too.
Over eight days we established a workable regime for activity and recuperation. The kids presented themselves in the best light and put effort both into following rules and taking decisions for themselves. The camp established a foundation of trust and cooperation. The adventure continues even after the return to the small-group home in Byala. Every kid has a personal project for development according to their interests and strengths. The youngsters have new horizons ahead of them that make them dream and take control of their lives in order to make those dreams come true.