About interaction with participants of social projects

Identifying a social problem, measuring it, designing a project plan, finding financial support are just the starting points of a great work. One of the most challenging aspects of implementing social projects is the interaction with the beneficiaries and, in the case of children's projects, their guardians/parents. Nina N. Ershova, Head of the Center for Social and Psychological Assistance in Kirov, shared her experience of interaction with parents and guardians of beneficiaries.

The Kirov Center for Social and Psychological Assistance won the "Stronger with CSS. School of Opportunities" Competition with the project "Portfolio of Social Competences". The project's aim is to create a positive educational environment for at-risk students, assisting them in comprehending the curriculum, advancing their academic performance.

Center director Nina Nikolayevna Ershova shared her experience.

The project started with the organization of the summer camp "Academy of Friendship", how did you gather the participants?

At the camp, there were kids from foster, underprivileged and large families, as well as kids from average families. Some of them had participated in our center's projects before, so their parents had confidence in us.

To get new participants, we used our social media and those of our partners.

We even presented the project to the Kirov Administration's Department of Guardianship and Custody, and they helped us to find new families too.

As a result, we achieved our goal and gathered a group of 60 children (30 in difficult life situations and 30 without special status).  

What difficulties have you encountered?

At first, some adults (mostly grandmothers) were worried about how their children would handle being away. Since most of the children are younger pupils and have never been away from their families for extended periods of time. Some parents were concerned about how well the child would "fit in" with the group of children because of communication and behavioral difficulties.

Since this was an integration camp, some parents were worried their child would be mixed in with “problem” children (Stereotypes were triggered!). 

Consequently, recruiting children for the camp was a lengthy process.

We spoke with every parent/guardian individually, told them in detail about the role of going to the camp for further participation in the project, about the specialists who will accompany the children, discussed and allayed the fears of the adults.

Our work led to 60 kids going to the Friendship Academy as planned. We think that the profile change met its objectives. Children socialized, communicated, taught each other in master classes, and are now ready to take part in the next steps of our project.