In mid-May, the HSE Volunteer Centre started enrolling volunteers for Psychoactivist, a joint project with CCP (Center for Curative Pedagogics). The project attracts participants who communicate with people with various mental and physical disabilities. We’ve talked to the volunteers about their impressions from communication with their buddies and their expectations of the project.
The volunteers talk to their buddies several times a week and write posts on the project’s Instagram together. Best Buddies HSE, a student association, also organizes training sessions on communication with people with disabilities for the volunteers.
Over the last few years, I have been looking to join a volunteer association, but hadn’t had time for this. But I subscribed for the Volunteer Centre mailout. When I saw the information about the CCP project, it seemed like a decent and interesting activity.
Furthermore, I have always believed that there is a kind of stigmatization of disorders such as cerebral palsy or autism — it’s like the society gives up on these people. But decreased intellectual capacity doesn’t make a person less worthy or useless: they are persons with interests and views, just like any of us. And yes, it may be more difficult for such people to express themselves or socialize, so it’s important to help them with it.
We talked with my buddy on the phone, introduced ourselves to each other; we started talking on different topics: our hobbies, interests, the place we live/study, the exams. Then, we discussed the project: she is interested in the law on personality protection, so we are going to focus on it. Soon, we will create an introduction post on the project’s Instagram.
Volunteering and interaction with people with mental disabilities are interconnected in my case: I first tried volunteering when we were organizing an arts and crafts club for kids with autistic disorders and Down syndrome.
The experience turned my world upside down: how little we think about the others, how different people’s lives may be, and how differently we may perceive the world. The Psychoactivists project helped me to closer connect to the people whose world is so different from my everyday life.
Today, I work with a buddy who lives in a special boarding school in Gai. He is into technology and programming and is willing to become legally emancipated. As part of the project, I and Zhenya create information cards that communicate the specifics of legal status of people devoid of legal capacity. My buddy is happy to be part of Psychoactivists. He says that the project helps him learn a lot of new things and, most importantly, to find very kind and friendly people.
I would like the project to become well-known to the public. A vast majority of people do not ever think about legal capacity. However, it is as important as air: our lives are defined with our ability to breath. We do not think that with each breath, we prolong our lives by several seconds. Most of us don’t have any difficulties with socialization and rarely experience any legal limitations in our everyday lives. But as well as painless inhalation and exhalation, complete legal capacity may be a privilege people have to fight for. I want our project to become a reminder for the majority, an incentive for changes in the mindset.
It is still possible to join the project: many young people are waiting to find buddies for communication and discussion of interesting and relevant topics. To take part, please fill in the questionnaire. If you have any questions, please contact Anna, manager of the Volunteer Centre, on her Telegram, @annaelwow.