With the initiative of PSAR, (Subcarpathian Association for Active Families) and UNHCR, (The UN Refugee Agency), the project School That Connects was created. The project incorporates social inclusion programs to help students and teachers with the integration of Ukrainian students into Polish schools.
The core structure of our project consists of four parts:
- Collecting Data and Observations – Class observations and interviews with teachers.
- Emotional Education – Conducting workshops on emotions and healthy ways to manage them.
- Resolving Conflicts – Conduction workshops on how to resolve conflicts.
- Communication and Mental Health – Conducting workshops where we learn about each other, how to work together, and about our mental health.
In each class we will hold 3 workshops. The activities in each workshop will be tailored around the specific needs and issues of each class. In order to get the information needed to create these workshops, we start out by observing the classroom.
We take note of which students interact with each other, which students are left out, and if there are any noticeable conflicts. Next, we sit down and have interviews with the teachers. We want to know what they think the main issues in the classroom are, which students have the most difficult situations at home, and what other problems are bothering the teachers. After we have gathered all the information needed, we can start putting together workshops designed for them.
When we begin the workshops, we start with Emotional Education. It is important in this process that the students not only understand emotions, but that they are also able to appropriately name their emotions. We help them understand that there are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ emotions; what is important is that we know the best way to express our emotions.
Next, we work on how to Resolve Conflicts. We go through exercises with the students that demonstrate non-violent ways they can resolve conflicts. We use “Friendship Cards” during these exercises to help the children understand and express, not just their emotions, but also the emotions and thought process of the other person.
Finally, we work on Communication and Mental Health. We take the time to get to know one another better. We help improve communication so it will improve their ability to work as a team. This allows the children to build better relationships and dialogue. We finish the workshops by talking about our mental health and how we can take care of it.
Helping the students during this transition is very important to us. Our goal is not only to improve the communication between Ukrainian and Polish students, but also with the students and their teachers, and the teachers with the students’ parents. If needed, we can also provide individual consultations to students with one of our specialists, or mediation between: teacher-student, student-parent, and parent-teacher. During the duration of this project, we will also set up three class trips to the TUTU Center in Rzeszow. At the Center the children will participate in group therapy classes, interactive games, and time in our Snozelem relaxation therapy room. We want the children to experience these different forms of therapy and also know they can come to the Center if they need our help
With this project, all the participants will gain a considerable amount of knowledge about mental health, antidiscrimination, and inclusion. Teachers will learn different ways to include new students and new techniques they can use to resolve issues that may come up in the classroom. Additionally, the parents will learn how to recognize distress in their children and discover new ways of communicating emotions with them. Overall this will help children be able to have a more seamless transition into their new environment, have the ability to express themselves better, and to focus more on their schoolwork. This project was set up to not only help people affected by the war in Ukraine, but to also give everyone the tools and knowledge to help with future integrations for generations to come.
Throughout the week, part of our staff from the project “School That Connects” conduct classes at the UNHCR-Refugee Support Center (a.k.a. Protection Hub). These classes include; language classes in Polish, sports competitions, integration-animation classes, art classes, gymnastics, language development training, board games, STEAM creative classes and more.
The classes that the Subcarpathian Association for Active Families runs at the UNHCR Refugee Support Center (a.k.a. Protection Hub) were designed especially for children and their parents. Together with UNHCR, we have created a place where children can spend time in a friendly environment, have fun developing their skills, join language and art classes, and feel comfortable knowing that this space was created just for them.
Project financially supported by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, as part of the grant program of the Foundation “We Give Children Strength”