The Anna-Katharinenstift (AKST) is a former estate run by nuns that serves as a home for people with mental, physical and emotional disabilities.
The project’s mission is to provide people with disabilities with a home, where they are stimulated and cared for. The AKST aims to enable its participants to lead a fulfilled and happy life.
The project consists of housing groups on campus and within the region, as well as a workshop in which some of the project participants’ work. It hosts a total number of over 300 adults with mental, physical or emotional disabilities. They come to the AKST to lead their entire life or only parts of it within the project.
The project provides them with support, escort, and encouragement in all areas of life, independently of the participants’ denomination. In order to accomplish this, the housing groups are set up to build a kind of family. They consist of 4-12 residents and 6-12 staff members.
Our volunteers will become part of one of the groups of people living together or the workshop. As part of the group they are expected to become a member of the family and join in on all kinds of activities the group does. These range from common meals, over theatre to art and excursions and most importantly include the conduct of every-day life. If the relationship with the inhabitants is developed accordingly, the volunteer may also take over direct physical care for a resident. Depending on the situation the volunteers might also be able to organize activities themselves.
If the volunteer becomes part of one of the groups that live off-campus,
for example in town, the work is focused more on support of independent living instead of physical care.
For more information see: www.anna-katharinenstift.de
Postillion e.V. is a non-profit agency running childcare and youth welfare projects across the Rhein-Neckar-Kreis region of Germany. It offers youth work, educational assistance and a voluntary service at day-care centres, crèches, kindergartens and after school nurseries. It is supported with regular donations by individuals, cities and municipalities.
The crèches are for children between 8 weeks and 3 years old. Angelika von der Beek, a childcare expert, says there is probably no period in which children demand a higher art of education than during infancy. The pedagogy of Postillion e.V.’s crèches is distinct and based on concepts that are responsive to the capabilities of the children. The unity of care and education implies that the crèche holds eating, sleeping and personal hygiene dear. Children need time to grow. Our nursery nurses pay attention to the needs of the children and the time they need for their growth. The children are supported in learning at their own pace, with directed observations. We work closely with parents and arrange a careful planned induction into our crèches for each child to ensure his or her wellbeing. Every institution has its own rooms that are age-based, sanitary and inspiringly designed. There are different playing facilities for the children: active, creative eating, calm and other games. The crèche isn’t a “little” kindergarten. Infants need different surroundings and different toys. The rooms are bright and friendly and there is a playground at each facility. Rooms, furniture and toys create perfect conditions for childish activities. Children are able to move freely and discover their bodies on their own. A suitable surrounding provides the basis for the children to be as self-contained as possible.
Crèche in Ladenburg (voluntary service location):
This crèche takes care of 20 children who are between 2 months and 3 years old. Two skilled employees in each group offer an age-based children’s program that activates every sense. The children are supported according to their stage of development and experience the being together in a clearly arranged and familiar group. Motion is important for children, so the facility includes a big yard. The crèche is especially designed for children with working parents and offers a reliable care and closes only 15 days a year.
Kindergartens are day-care centres for children between three and six years old. The kindergarten has a special sociopolitical significance. In Germany kindergartens have a long tradition. They aren’t part of the school system but are rather seen as an essential component of youth welfare.
You could equate education and the upbringing of children with education. Today we understand education as a right. As Janusz Korcak wrote in the 1920’s, we must accept childhood not only as a process with the end goal of turning children into independent young adults, but as an important phase of life to be cherished. That implies that children should be treated with affection. Postillion e.V. as a day-care centre provider bear a big responsibility towards children, because they spend lots of time with our nursery teachers. Sustainable relationships between the child and the teacher are the base of our nursery work.
Each Postillion e.V. nursery has a constant daily routine that offers certainty and guidance. It provides integrated support for the children in every field of development, not only the cognitive. The children are also supported in their social, emotional and motor growth. The systematic observation of the children and the continued cooperation with the parents are vital to Postillion e.V.’s work.
After school care clubs
Postillion e.V.‘s after-school care clubs are day-care centres for children between first and fourth grade. As child and youth welfare centres they are outside the normal school system. Opening hours are tailored to the needs of parents.
To support education and development of schoolchildren, inspiring surroundings are important, allowing them to have a multifaceted experience. This is time limited in an after school club because there is only a short period of time during term-time in which such processes could be initiated. During the school holidays, when they spend longer hours at the centres, these processes can develop further. Development at primary school age is propelled by a desire to learn (which means ‘becoming self-sufficient’ and ‘being able to act independently’) and creation of an identity. This happens because of an increase in the meaning of the surroundings (teachers, after school club employees, media, techniques etc.), while parents become less ‘omniscient’ and ‘impeccable’. Relationships between the children are an important part of the development of social skills and the creation of social behaviour, partly because interaction happens at the same-eye level, unlike in relations with adults. In addition, verbal skills will be defined for avoiding misconceptions. Arguments and statements have to be justified and explained by adults and peers to be accepted.
More information at www.postillion.org