In Acharnon street, in one of the most socially excluded areas of Athens, an old neoclassical (listed) building hosted a space for creativity and support for local children with social and learning difficulties. Here they found a safe place to play, support with school difficulties, as well as psychological and social support for themselves and their families.
The Day Care Center “N. Kamaratos” was launched at the beginning of 2008 in a building granted to Medical Intervention by Mr Kamaratos, a person with high sensitivity and love for children of any race or religion, who devoted a big part of his life in charity work and philanthropy projects.
The project benefited children of Greek and foreign citizenship who where permanent residents in the country, and whose families where struggling to earn a living.
The main purpose of the program was for the Day Care Center to become an exemplar of learning and practice of social behaviour for children, as well as to enhance the acceptance and implementation of social norms on a social and cultural level.
Our social workers contributed to family empowerment through the investigation of possible underlying problems (of social and financial nature or familial relations and domestic issues). Social services operated as a link between the family and other social institutions, focusing on the child and its individual needs.
Social Support involved:
- Reception of beneficiaries and informing them about the services available.
- Introductory interview for the person who approaches the social service to register their claim.
- Investigation of possible family difficulties (social, financial, domestic, and familial problems).
- Linking the families with other appropriate social institutions and services.
- Referring the families, where deemed necessary, to the appropriate social services and facilitating communication with third parties.
- Support and empowerment of beneficiaries on a social level with the aim to develop and/or improve their social relationships.
Mental Health Services and Counselling
The Day Care Center’s Mental Health specialists provided group or individual psychological support to children, adolescents, and parents. They also worked with each family through a mental health educational approach in order to resolve personal emotional difficulties and to improve communication skills and relations within the family itself.
Mental Health Services and Counselling were about Psychological intervention for children and adolescents of age 5-15 (in preschool, primary school, and high school) and consisted of two pillars of action:
Parent counselling and support in the parental role, with the objective to ensure child protection and to foster not only the child’s mental health, but also the rest of the family’s members, therefore improving the family’s functionality.
A timely intervention within the educational environment and the collaboration of the Day Care Center’s mental health service with the school can contribute to the benefiting children’s smooth integration into school along with the tutors’ sensitization on mental health and immigration issues.
Psychological support for youth
Assessment and diagnosis in case of psychological disorders (emotional, learning, and behavioral problems), psycho therapeutic monitoring and support and referral to the appropriate services whenever this was deemed necessary (in-hospital treatment, learning disabilities assessment referrals).
Remedial and support teaching
The educational services focused on the improvement of the children’s learning ability by supporting them in studying and improving their language skills.
In detail, improvement in language skills was evident in:
- Listening – oral comprehension
- Speaking – producing verbal speech
- Range and use of vocabulary
- Writing –producing written speech
- Reading skills
- Reading comprehension
The Creative Activities Workshops aimed to help children express their emotions, develop communication skills and to the adaptation and integration of these children into the Greek society.
Children were involved in visual, drawing and art activities which cultivated a spirit of solidarity, collaboration, understanding of the Greek culture, and which set up the right conditions for their smooth integration in the country. Communication at home, in school and among their peers was improved.
This workshop was run by a visual arts teacher. Its main objectives were:
- To provide children with the opportunity to experiment and improvise.
- To nurture their observation skills, imagination, creativity, and sensitivity.
- To initiate fair competition and contribute to socializing and integration in the natural, artificial, and human environment.
The Cooking Workshop enabled children to understand the process of cooking and to learn from an early age about authentic and fresh food. They where able to come in contact with fresh products in their real dimension and learn to distinguish ingredients.
Cooking workshops where accessible to all children irrespective of age and personality. What was most important was not training children on how to become professional cooks, but to develop their kinaesthetic skills, socializing and self-confidence.
Free Time Activities
The Day Care Center provided a space where a PC, Printer, PlayStation, Library, Table Tennis where available so that children could use them in their free time and after school for playing, studying and to do research for their school homework.