Social project as a challenging journey

Social project development may not always be a predictable process. Sometimes activities that seem to be effective in achieving goals do not really resonate with the target audience. Evgenia Petelchuk, Development Director of the «Anton’s right here» Foundation, told about the project within the framework of the "Acting Together" Competition and shared her experience of revising hypotheses and reassembling project components.

"Ready to become adults" project supports young people with ASD in the crucial period of growing up. Among other components, the project included the creation of a supportive community in a peer-to-peer format, where autistic volunteers would share their experiences with main participants.

Initially, the idea received a great response from the participants and their parents, but it was not possible to form a permanent group within 4 months.

After analyzing the reasons, Eugenia identified a few main points.

- Autistic teenagers often need more time to adapt to group work.

- High-functioning participants who could quickly join the group were busy on weekdays and preferred the online format.

- The project team also noted that the instability of the group was stressful for the autistic mentors.

As a result, the team found new approaches to interacting with the participants.

- The format of group counseling sessions has been changed to one-on-one sessions.

- Autistic professionals who have been successfully employed are now sharing their experiences at more specialized career guidance meetings.

- A general chat has been created. Here, the project participants can ask questions and receive answers from an autism expert, share their experiences, and seek support from people with similar experiences.

- The website and social media now have a section where young people with autism share their experiences and self-support strategies. This is particularly useful for those who cannot attend face-to-face formats or prefer text-based materials.

All this will help project participants to share and get the necessary information from the right sources.

"This is a very inspiring practice - talking openly about the transformation of the project, discussing the causes of difficulties and looking for the most beneficial ways to achieve the final goals" – said Olga Suslova, President of the CSS Foundation.