Activities for integration of children at risk, including Roma children

The activity aims at actively influencing the integration of children at risk, their ability to get integrated in the school systems and also their knowledge and desire to continue developing their own culture.

The activity will comprise all relevant stages connected with the successful realization of the integration activities through the development of special educational materials and conducting the relevant workshops for children. In particular, the activity will be divided in the following sub-activities:

1. Intercultural workshops for children from 3 up to 6 years;
All sub-activities listed below will be held in the buildings of all kindergartens, participating in the project. They will allow the children to develop their own competencies related to the integration in school environment.  A great part of the initiatives will be led by pedagogues, who have already been trained in component 3 of the “Children and Youth at Risk” program. The intercultural workshops will be held twice monthly during the last 16 months of the project proposal. They will allow the children to develop their own knowledge about the Bulgarian and Roma culture through activities, adequate for their experience and age. Teachers will use a different selection of methods, including role-playing games, celebrating different holidays, typical for the Bulgarian and Roma culture. Using special flashcards as well as educational cards, children will learn more about different cultures in an easily understandable manner. They will be able to understand the value of each culture through games.
The combination of materials, dolls, costumes and educational videos that will be developed will also contribute to achieving the goals of this specific sub-activity. 

The quality of the workshops as well as the coordination between the activities in the different kindergartens will be ensured by the five coordinators in each of the five participating institutions. The coordinators will make an overview of the programs for the workshops. They will take part in some of the sessions and will act as mentors for the teachers. A very important part of the coordination role of the key personnel, working in the kindergartens, will be to check the effect of the activities on the participating children. If no progress is observed, the group of coordinators will offer the team, in charge of the project management, a number of correcting measures to be applied so that the proper results could be achieved. The coordination at kindergarten level will ensure correct increasing of the questions related to the objectives and tasks of the project during each stage of its realization.

2. Logical thinking and problem-solving workshops;
These workshops will be held at the same time as the intercultural workshops. By performing specific, logically related, and constructive activities in teams of children, the participants in the workshops will begin to learn the specific rules of communication and mutual recognition while doing the tasks.
Teachers will stimulate improvement of the cognitive skills of children through activities that resemble crafts and will additionally contribute to the development of the children as well as of their readiness to be a part of the school-educational system.

3. Provision of appropriate educational materials for conducting the workshops:
The team of project managers will guarantee that all kindergartens have all necessary educational materials for realization of the workshops. Dolls and costumes will be purchased for the purposes of the intercultural activities. The costumes will be used also during preparation and actual performance of the theater performance – a part of informational and public activities.
Also, the project managers will purchase drawing books, materials for handicrafts and other similar materials, which will be particularly important for the proper realization of the planned workshops, performed by the kindergarten pedagogues.

The educational cards will be placed on the walls and the flashcards will be developed and printed by the subcontracting company, while the ideas, principles and main topics will be discussed in advance with the team of project managers, teachers, realizing the workshops, and the coordinators of each of the kindergartens.

4. Site visits by experts of the Council of Europe/Norway;
Around the middle of the activities of the workshops for integration of children at risk, including Roma children, the team of project managers will organize a site visit by an expert of the Council of Europe or of the donor countries. The team of managers will seek the assistance of the program operator, of the Embassy of Norway as well as of the trainers in the workshops during Component 3 in order to ensure that the expert takes part in this visit.
This visit aims at providing additional influence on the pedagogues and coordinators in the kindergartens. The expert will participate in some of the workshops and he/she will give additional feedback and suggestions for improving the workshops under the program based on his/her experience and the good practices of the Council of Europe/donor countries for realization of activities for children at risk.

5. Development of a documentary, focused on the education of children at the age of 3 up to 6 years in Bulgarian and Roma culture;
The documentary will be developed by a contractor and it will be oriented to the main target group in the project. The plot must be developed in cooperation with teachers and experts in the field of integration of children at risk. A special focus will be placed on the values of Bulgarian and Roma culture, presented in a way that is easily understandable by children at the age of 3 up to 6 years. The product must have 5 different sub-topics, each of which with duration of at least 5 minutes. The video will be used as an additional multimedia production for conducting the intercultural workshops. A copy of this video will be uploaded on the webpage and it will be distributed in other kindergartens, and thus it will be provided for use in more institutions.

6. Ensuring proper emotional and language development of the children.
One of the main problems, emphasized in the Action Plan for realization in the integration policies of Municipality of Sredets, is the insufficient knowledge and use of Bulgarian language by the Roma community. In this connection, proper language support must be included. Additional encouragement of Roma children will be ensured by the participation of speech-language pathologists and psychologists, who will work with children on an individual basis. These sessions will be held during the last ten months of the project, when children will already have desire and motivation to further integrate not only in kindergarten and in school but also to work and live with their coevals from the Bulgarian community. SLPs and psychologists will work only with children, targeted by the pedagogues in the kindergarten. By the application of this strategy only the children, who do need such support, will be able to take advantage of the offered additional activity.

Indicators: Targeted 480 children, included in the project activities; purchased 1000 color-filling books, 2 workshops for children, 1 theater screenplay; 1 documentary, a set of flashcards and educational cards.