Democracy for street children in Poland

Empowering street kids through a mobile school in Poland

When Sonia Szostak isn’t volunteering with us at SSCC, she lives in Warsaw and works with young people who come from dysfunctional families. They have problems at school and she helps them develop important educational and social skills. She tells us about this interesting project below:

Street children in Poland
Street children in Poland learning with the mobile school project

Democracy is about involving everybody. But how can we involve children for whom the street is an important environment.

There are probably a variety of answers that aren’t easy to achieve.  Today I would like to write about one good example of working with street kids in Poland.

The project is called mobile school and it is run by GPASPRAGA FOUNDATION in Warsaw. The mobile school is a box on wheels with extendable blackboards (fully extended, the mobile school box is six meters long). Educational panels and games can be easily installed everywhere on the box. The panels cover broad themes, for example: child rights, democracy, health education, basic school skills, creativity. Children can draw with chalk on the box just like normal school blackboards. The design means that the mobile school can be used on streets, parks, squares- it can reach every nook and cranny of the city.

So why is the mobile school a good tool to work with street kids?

Here’s three ways in which it can help to empower these young people:

1)      The mobile school is a great tool for spending creative time with children. Street kids don’t have a lot of things to do on the street and they don’t usually participate in school classes like other children. The mobile school allows street workers to take the activities to the street children; they can play games, draw, invent stories and use their imagination.

2)      The mobile school helps children to catch up basic educational skills which they haven’t had opportunity to learn at school. It usually happen unconsciously through play.  The mobile school strategy is based building the strength and individual talent of the children. As a result, they can also build better self-image and feel more self-confident.

3)      The mobile school program helps to build an image of a “positive adult”. Street kids often don’t have positive experiences with relationships with adults. The program definitely enables children to meet good and trustworthy people.

Street children in Poland learning with the mobile school project
Street children in Poland learning with the mobile school project

We’ll be hearing more from Sonia before the summer is out including some ideas on great icebreakers from her experience in Poland. Stay tuned!

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