6 September 2017

Foster Family Odyssey

Foster Family Odyssey

Krasnodar Krai hosted a summer camp for foster families in late summer, between 21 and 26 August. Tutorials, master classes, therapy sessions and the hospitable coast of the Black Sea were in store for the parents and children. This year the camp welcomed foster families with children with disabilities.

Christened Family Odyssey, the summer camp opened its doors to 13 families. 24 parents and 78 children spent a whole week on the shore of the Black Sea. The camp also hosted handicapped children. The event programme was designed to make all children feel at home. 

Each morning the children and adults were welcomed by characters from legends of the sea, who gave out positive vibes and described the day's activities. In the morning and afternoon, therapy sessions, punctuated by bathing and downtime. The camp's programme included tutorials taught by psychologists, consultations, group activities for youngsters, as well as team-building family events. As a result, the families became such good friends that they staged joint performances for the going-away party. 

I met new kids and we stay in touch. It would be great to meet again next year! says 11-year-old Diana Fyodorova.

For the 18 professionals, among whom were counsellors, disability professionals, psychologists and consultants, the camp became a forum where they worked with children and adopted the best practices of their colleagues in the profession. The joint effort resulted in a bank of ideas. 

The psychologists not only treated the children, but also developed individual recommendations for the parents of each child. Security Blanket, fairy-tale therapy, Level Playing Field, On the Same Page, to name but a few classes and tutorials for the children and adults. Financial awareness classes for teenagers were among the highlights. Professionals taught the rudiments of family budgeting, how to balance income and expenditures and save costs.  

It is incredible that the camp receives experts from all over the country. They all have different approaches, so we found what to lift from each other, said Larisa Bodrova, an educator at the Faith, Hope and Charity TsSSB [Fostering Centre (FC)] [GBU [Publicly Funded State Institution (PFSI)]. 

I sat in on the classes of some professionals and compared our styles. That helped me identify my shortcomings, but, most importantly, I learned new solutions. For example, I liked fairy-tale therapy. I'd very much like to put it in practice and see what I can make of it. I also found of great interest the training of tolerant attitudes in children, which I am certain to try back home at my establishment - said Svetlana Markova, educational psychologist at the Centre for the Fostering of Orphaned and Abandoned Children in the city of Ussuriysk.  

In their free time the families played physical games, did a lot of socializing and compared notes. The Family Olympics, singing on the beach and the Perfect Storm quest brought together the adults and children from across this country. A major contribution to managing the camp events was made by the foster families from the Ryazan and Leningrad Oblasts. The Fyodorovs minded the kids during their activities and prepared night concerts; the Makhlyayevs designed and managed sports events, and the Bogdanovs composed an anthem for the camp. 

The summer camp of foster families is a place for big-hearted people. The parents and children see new sides to each other, and the psychologists collect a lot of material for their researches. A week is a short time for a sea change, but the experts are confident that it is the camp that helps families open up and gives a growth impetus.

Tags: family and child

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