Move it! A Lithuanian Summer Camp

Move it! A Lithuanian Summer Camp

Lithuanian Maltesers launched a new project: Active rehabilitation camp for disabled people in Klaipeda.

Every year more than 13 thousand people in Lithuania are recognized as disabled; more than 2 thousand among them are those who have acquired disability after trauma (Lithuanian Social Security and Labor data). According to experts, the perception that they will not be able to walk and do other normal activities for many people, especially the young, lead to acute depression, and they usually isolate from others.

14 people with disabilities (18-36 years old), who have suffered spinal and other injuries in the last few years and are in wheelchairs, were specially selected and took part in the camp at the end of August, 2015. All activities during the camp were maintained by 6 disabled instructors and 10 facilitators (mainly kinesiotherapy students), who provided full assistance 24 hours a day. Additionally there were 2 medical staff, 4 temporary assistants, and a priest. In total 40 people, including 20 disabled in wheelchair take part at the project.

”Disabled people in Lithuania often feel a great exclusion from society, not only because of poorly adapted infrastructure, but also because of psychological problems. Young people that recently become disabled are very sensitive to the change in the life, they are closed and do not believe that they can live with disability" – says Bronius Einars, one of the organizers of the MOPT Active Rehabilitation camp for disabled. "Aid for disabled people is one of the priority activities for Lithuanian Maltesers. Every year we organize a pilgrimage to Lourdes, as well as a small number of Lithuanians who attend the International Youth Camp for disabled youth. Over a year ago, the Lithuanian Maltesers also introduced the transportation service for disabled called “Lets go”. In particular, we aim to help individuals with experienced spinal injuries and this was the aim in this special Active Rehabilitation Camp. The Active Rehabilitation Camp in Klaipeda is a program that effectively helps disabled people to realize their potential."

Many methods and techniques were used on the camp: sport as a tool for the independence of the disabled and self-service as a better adaptation to life. Days were devoted to sports activities, and, in the evening, a series of conversations with mentors. The participants of the camp were actively engaged throughout the whole day, and particular attention was paid to the wheelchair driving technique. During these activities the disabled participants learned to move the wheelchair and overcome everyday obstacles such as thresholds, curbs, crossings, stairs, etc.

Self-service elements focused on the activities of daily living and learning to compensate for lost functions. Not only the physical abilities of participants, but also bedsore prevention, hygiene, and sexuality issues were discussed there as well. The goal was to discuss the problems faced by those effected by spinal cord injuries and use the mentors' experiences to overcome them. Visits to the city were also organized in order to overcome the participants' fear of appearing in public and to give them confidence.

The camp uniqueness is the fact that the mentors in the camp are people with disabilities, who have learnt how to live a full life and have overcome their specific problems. Mentors have shared their experience of adapting to life as a disabled person, e.g., the ability to travel, drive, use public transport, dress up, take a shower, work and have fun. The mentors were able to inspire the young participants to believe in their own lives through their success stories.

The 10 day Active Rehabilitation Camp was sponsored by the Essen (Germany) diocese Maltesers, so it was free to participants. The Diocese of Vechta (Germany) Maltesers also donated two special utility wheelchairs for the camp.

There is no other camp or the program of this kind in Lithuania. Every disabled participants of the camp emphasized a huge value of this camp and praised the knowledge, which they received there. It is hoped that next year the Active Rehabilitation Camp will be organized again and will become a permanent program.

Community being served:

  • Disabled Children and Adults