The inclusive youth camp “The World for All in Latvia. Dance and Freedom” took place in Amatas district. It will be followed by events during the Advent and Christmas

From October 24 to October 28 an inclusive camp for children and youth “World for All in Latvia. Dance and Freedom” was held in the Spares Estate, located in the Amatas District. It was organized by the Society for the integration of the blind and other persons with disabilities “I See” (Es redzu) and  supported by the ABLV Charitable Foundation and the local municipality. Its main objective was to promote active lifestyle for young people with visual and other disabilities, thus promoting their integration into society.

Dance classes were led by a teacher from the dance studio “Kaprīze” and dance school “Dzirnas” Sabine Shishkanova. The camp program also included leadership training under integration specialist Rolands Eglitis,  sports activities and a poetry party of visually impaired author Laima Murniece also took place. As well as a special event — the night hike to the Bunker of the National Partisans.

Two youths, blind Georgs Barda and his friend Karl Gravis, were responsible for realisation of the camp program. “We had a lot to go through and acquire experience to be a support to others, to make decisions, to adapt to different situations and to respond to all kinds of surprises. We understood that the organizers are responsible not only for the formal execution of the program, but also for granting each of the participants possibility to fulfil their plans and dreams. The position also recquires the ability to corect in a swift way small and avoid big mistakes, and always keep in mind a plan B, – the young people commented on their organising activities. The also spoke on night hiking to the Bunker of the National partisans: There was some confusion at the very start about the route, perhaps, we should  choose more difficult one along the forest roads. But when we started to move in the dark and cold, fighting with the wind, it became clear that everything is just great. After such introduction the following talking about the history was perceived much more seriously and made to think. After the bunker we were baking sausages at a bonfire, but on the way back a real snowstorm happened – the very first for this year. It was also great to feel something close to what the Latvian riflemen had experienced a hundred years ago during the Christmas Battle and the National partisans after the Second World War. After such adventures we began to look differently at modern amenities.”

Young participants with disabilities from another “I See” project “A Friend for a Special Kid” were present in the camp, as well as their four-legged friends. Eight-year-old Katrina Krumina, who moves in a wheelchair, arrived without her smooth-haired retriever Greta.. The girl most liked to dance (in a wheelchair). Katrina told that during the half-year of training Greta learned to follow her, to sit and to lie down. But there are times when the dog does not obey, so this time Greta stayed home. The sixteen-year-old Niklavs Senkans arrived with his friend, a red labrador Caesar. “This summer I for the first time  had participated in the “I See” camp. Although there had been a slight feeling of insecurity, general impression was positive. Now I feel safer, because there are many well-known people here. The best of the camp offers was training in leadership, during which we learned a lot. I realized that I want to become an inventor, but the training of the dog would remain a hobby. The only thing I would like to change is to spend a lot more time on Caesar’s training so he can do tricks, but at the same time pass an obedience training and become a real helper,” said Niklavs.

Laima Mūrniece is a student at the Latvian Academy of Culture and has graduated Art Ambassadors training in the Center for Contemporary Art this summer. In the early days of the camp, she was worried about her first solo poetry party. At the event it was Laima’s poem about special days and people which particularly delighted the audience.

Laima was brought to the camp by an opportunity to stay in a beautiful place, including the atmosphere of family and cordiality. “It is nature, peace and a special mood, which makes this place special. Not only in Riga, but also in small towns it is difficult to find such peaceful and quiet environment. One evening I went out to take pictures and tried to capture a sore, slightly painful and sad mood of the late autumn.  But at the same time it is pleasant and dark romantic. I’ve been to so many camps and assemblies, but rarely has seen such a warm, friendly relationships. I especially liked the evening sharing circles when we were sitting silently in candlelight, and if someone spoke, everyone understood what he or she wanted to say,” Laima shared her impressions.

A dance teacher from the studio “Kaprīze” and dance school “Dzirnas” Sabine Shishkanova highly appreciated a positive mood and openness of the young people both with disabilities and without. “One could see that they want to learn something new. They listen to the music and then start moving, each in his or her own pace and style. That’s the magic of the dance. It gives a person health, strengthens the back and other muscles, but at the same time it addresses the soul and dewelops self-confidence.”

“It would be good if such inclusive camps would continue, and the municipality is ready to support them in every way. I hope that in cooperation with the experts of the “I See” we will be able to improve tourism offers in the field of accessibility  of the environment and inclusive education,” said Elita Eglīte, Chair of the Amatas District Council, who visited the camp’s young people and teachers.

“The goal of our camps is to continue promoting and practicing inclusive lifestyle by engaging new actors. Unlike the large international summer camp, which took place here in Amatas District, this autumn event was planned in a modest, family-oriented way, more focused on internal affairs. On the freedom of the body and mind, the holding of breath and thoughts, as well as meditation on the tragic  events in the history of Latvia. Young people, both with disabilities and their peers, perceive our ideas with enthusiasm and take an active part in the events. Many thanks to the Amatas District Municipality and the ABLV Charitable Foundation, without the support of those is won’t be possible to cultivate the ideas and practices of the inclusive environment for young people and locals,” stressed Aivija Barda the leader of the camp and Chair of the Society “I See”. She informed,  that the Society received cooperation offers from Ukraine, Georgia and Portugal, which means that international projects will expand, and cooperation with the traditional “I See” partners in the United States and Russia will continue.

At the beginning of December in the days of Advent a photo exhibition of the project “The World for All in Latvia” will be opened at the Riga City Hall, and the first anniversary of the project “A Friend for a Special Kid” will be celebrated. Also the “I See” calendar for the year 2018 – the Year of the Dog – will be presented to the public.

The next inclusive youth camp in Spares Manor is planned from December 26 to January 4. It will include leadership training, sports and dance. Christmas celebrations and New Year’s farewell will not be left out. We invite everyone who is willing and caring to enjoy Christmas miracles in the Amata District!

The Camp in Spares Manor continues the “I See” inclusive camps tradition, which was launched in 2015 in Ivandes Manor near Kuldiga and continued in 2017 in Riga and Amata District. Since September 2016, it has become a part of the NGO “I See” and the Baltic Architectural Center program “World for All in Latvia”. Its main objective is to start implementing the basic principles of inclusive education in at least 15 schools throughout Latvia by the beginning of the school year 2020/2021. To enable children and young people with disabilities to acquire a general and vocational education, modern architectural solutions in the field of environmental accessibility, support for the development of talent and, above all, friends are needed.

Press Service of the Society for the integration of the blind and other persons with disabilities “I See” (Es redzu)

Tērvetes ielā 12, Jūrmala, Latvija LV-2010

Tel./fax: +371 67753573

+371 2648271

FB: Es Redzu