Where society sees a limitation, Ympact020 sees an opportunity!

Where society sees a limitation, Ympact020 sees an opportunity!

Juliette, Stine, Yasminah and Alexandra (14-17 years old) received their Europass, a certificate for young people, which they receive after 80 hours of social engagement on May 6. At Ympact020, they developed a customized program for young people who have difficulties in learning. The young people went out of “their box” into society and were allowed to search for their talents and receive pride in return.

“These girls do not have a disability, but they experience a difficulty learning, which really is a difference” appt Marjan, mother of Juliette.

Hard to learn & prejudice

How would you respectfully describe these girls to ensure everyone understands? They are young adolescents, each with unique talents, yet they face significant challenges in learning. Is this a limitation or an opportunity? At times, it may seem like a battle, but it’s one that must be engaged with perseverance.

For years, these students and their parents have been told where they are lagging behind, what they are not good at, what level is probably the maximum achievable and that a normal place in society is not something that is expected. They can study or go to school until they are 18 years old (sometimes up to 20), while this group can still learn for much longer. It is therefore strange that these young people in particular are given such a short amount o time to learn.

Inspiration and an opportunity

The inspiration for this customized program came from Marjan Jongerius, a parent who strongly believes in the unique talents of her daughter and similar young people. “If there is room for those talents to flourish more, I am sure my daughter will have a greater chance for a more independent and meaningful life,” said Marjan Jongerius.

Where education and society sometimes sees a limitation, Ympact020 saw an opportunity.

As a volunteer organization and MDT provider, Ympact020 believes in the power of volunteering and that everyone has talent to contribute to society. Ympact020 started setting up this program full of enthusiasm and good drive, initially as a pilot.

“It is a tough and sad day, it is the end of something very beautiful” said an emotional Alexandra on the day of the presentation.

Social Service Time

SST stands for Social Service Time and was set up by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS). During an MDT, young people between the ages of 12 and 30 volunteer for 80 hours within a 6-month period, developing their talents and gaining meaningful experiences.

The pilot

Last November, 4 secondary special education students between the ages of 14 and 17 started an MDT program through Ympact020. A unique tailor-made program was created for a group of young people with learning difficulties who want to participate in society at a different pace and, more importantly, can do so. By placing them in the middle of society, they learn a lot about communication, how to deal with different people and are challenged in a different way than at school. Which in the end is of great value.

The activities

In the fall of 2023, the young people got involved at various locations. Helping with a Christmas tree distribution, putting together a Christmas package for families living in poverty and helped with the collection of these packages.

In early 2024, participants were paired with care locations where they worked for several weeks in a row. Repetition allowed these young people to master activities at their own pace.

A care worker for the elderly with dementia said, “It’s nice to see the natural connection between the girls and the elderly. Everything is slower and quieter here, but this very pace proved to be a good match. Elderly people blossomed because of the girls’ presence, and after a few weeks something really beautiful developed. Where others see a limitation, I saw so much strength and love”

Experiencing growth & pride

The girls themselves are very enthusiastic about the program and have discovered what they are good at. During the weekly evaluations they enthusiastically shared what they were proud of. They helped each other when they saw that the other needed a little extra help.

“It was so beautiful to be able to experience up close the growth of these young people” said Alice Hoolsema, project coordinator of Ympact020. “After the 80 hours of volunteering were completed they continued to take the initiative themselves to continue volunteering. A fantastic result.”

From pilot to potential

Through MDT Talent, Ympact020 wants to give more young people the opportunity to work with their talents at their own pace and to contribute to society. There is still so much potential to connect and at the same time make society more beautiful through this program. Ympact020 is open to using the experience from the pilot to work with VSO schools or other groups.

Who will participate?

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