Even though the majority of people associate summer months with leisure, union „Family support centre “Puķuzirnis”” continued to productively carry out the project 2014.EEZ/PP/1/MIC/074/040„Complex support events to decrease social exclusion of youth and families with children”.

Summer has been filled with various activities for children and youth, and union members themselves had opportunities to gain experience from other organisations alike, who care about the future of families.

Due to the high interest of Preiļi children about classes with canis-therapy elements (instead of planned 6, 20 children applied) we created 2 groups, so that all the children could participate, as dog handlers are not able to work with so many children at once (it would have also been difficult for the three lovely dogs, that children became fond of since the first meeting). In August these classes took place in Riebiņi.  If at first almost all of the children were afraid of the dogs, at the end of classes these fears have considerably decreased and children gained many, new skills.

While weather was alternating between rainy and sunny, children aged 5-7 and 8-10 had a chance to participate in day camp ,,Little explorers’’ in Riebiņi on 20-24th of July and 27-31st of July accordingly.

Summer has always been quite tense for working parents, who want for their children to be able to meaningfully spend their free time in a safe environment. In order to at least partially deal with this issue, 40 children of Preiļi and Riebiņi municipalities had an opportunity to participate in environment’s exploration camp in which specialists – the leader Jeļena Harlamova, instructor Natālija Rivža un teacher Lolita Šmukste, using their experience in working with children, provided various, interesting activities,.

In order to understand the necessity of waste sorting and learn how to do that properly, children went on a trip to LTD „Preiļu Saimnieks” Waste management unit’s waste sorting field, where children were introduced to recyclable materials. In order to reinforce newly gained knowledge, children themselves recycled waste they have taken from home and expressed their impressions in drawings, that can be viewed at LTD „Preiļu saimnieks” Communal unit on Rīga street 4.

Trip to Riebiņi park has also been filled with new discoveries, children studied different plants, looked for and studied various insects– this activity became even more interesting with the help of specially bought research inventory – magnifying glasses, insect research containers. Also children collected leaves and plants for the herbarium. Group of the older children also played orientation games and crafted spider catchers.

The fact that process from grain till finished bread consists of 11 stages, we believe, now knows every parent, whose child participated in the camp, as one of the activities was to explore grain’s journey to plate. Children were very excited about trip to horse farm LTD “3 Vītolu staļli”, where they had a chance to look up-close at the horses and do many other fun activities. Not only the children, but also their parents were very happy and grateful about the opportunity to participate in such a comprehensive and interesting camp. Also lunch and tea-time snacks were provided.

Weaving workshop classes finished at the end of August. In spring and summer children dedicated themselves to weaving striped and colourful tapestries on little looms and also bookmarks of various patterns. Not one of the children who visited workshop has weaved before, therefore their surprise and happiness was even bigger about the successful outcome – many beautiful works have been created, children themselves learned to match colours and choose patterns for their bookmarks. Few children tried to create bookmarks with personal names. On warm summer days plenaries were organised, in which children weaved in nature. We were happy to hear that due to the weaving workshops, couple of children have applied to Art school and a few are planning to do so. Interest about weaving was so vast, that many parents found long forgotten looms and brought them to workshops, so that children could continue their work at home after workshops have finished.

Also, pottery workshops have finished at the beginning of September. In the last workshop children gathered to make Christmas tree decorations in the shape of gingerbread cookies from clay and photo frame, were picture of all the children was put reminding of the creatively spent time.  Children could also look at the works that were made in spring, which by the end of summer got their black shade from special baking, which gives more durability. Pottery works were a real success and children with eagerness were looking for their own work- whether it was a little bowl, medal or even little characters. At the end of September children of this age group also started to attend developing classes with Montessori education elements which will last till mid-December.

Right now pottery workshops are available for teenagers – workshops take place in Riebiņi multifunctional youth initiative centre „Pakāpieni”. Many of the workshops have already taken place in which workshop participants started to make sugar bowl (older girls, however, see different function for it, for example, jewellery box), sugar bowl was made by sticking to clay bowls together, then the sugar bowls were transformed and altered and those who are slightly quicker started polishing, which in contrast is a long process. In the next workshops they plan to create other functional table set objects, which after baking could be used at home.All the works, however, will first be a part of exhibition, which will be open at the end of the year and at the beginning of next. Weaving workshops for teenagers are also continuing in autumn.

In order to broaden understanding about various computer programs among teenagers, as one of the activities in union’s realised project, for two weeks 20-31st of July we offered to master CorelDraw Graphics program, which was taught by LTD „Latinsoft” education centre (Daugavpils) staff. Training took place in Preiļi IT centre.

This program was chosen with an objective to give teenagers an insight about program’s various functions in creating polygraph productions such as calendars, leaflets, posters, business cards etc. Furthermore CorelDraw Graphics is not included in general school education program, there is only brief summary about its functions. It was further proved by many teenagers, who said that they worked with this computer program for the first time, with an exception of few teenagers from higher grades.

Even though trainings were quite intensive- 80 hour worth of lessons in two weeks’ time, majority of the teenagers stated that these trainings were definitely worth it. Also, important motivation was the chance to get a certificate issued by education centre, which for many teenagers could be beneficial in their future. For couple of teenagers main reason for participation was the opportunity to gain new knowledge specifically about CorelDraw, for others opportunity to spend their free time while also learning something new.

We are happy that in Preiļi and Riebiņi there are now teenagers who have learned basics of computer graphics. At the end of trainings project leader Iveta Šņepste handed LTD „Latinsoft” education centre certificates to all of the 16 teenagers.

„The most important thing is to wholeheartedly believe in your idea and to constantly talk about it, because you are already hundred steps further than the rest!” – this is quote shared by businessman, LTD „Sātys” owner Juris Vucāns in the event „Tēja ar uzņēmējiem” (,,Tea with businessmen’’), which took place on the 19th of August, he encouraged teenagers to not be afraid and take the risk of becoming an employer, not an employee, because he himself three years ago started his business, which now employs 12 people and shared his own experience.

As J.Vucāns said himself by doing one thing for a long time (Juris is a member of the Orange choir, which has performed in many concerts across Latvia) after a while it becomes boring and that is the exact moment when one wishes to do something different. The idea about sausage production came to him rather unexpectedly. While he was traveling, he stopped at a shop to buy something to eat, however, her realised that there was nothing, he wished to buy, because at that moment he wanted to eat a real, homemade sausage. In order to get an impression about sausage consumption in Latvia, he researched data from the Central statistics board, about which the businessman is grinning as this data is rather limited. Serious work was required in researching various recipes, to understand if all the things in recipe, at the end would hold together and look like a sausage. After many attempts, best recipes were found and now as a finished product are available at shops in Preiļi and Rēzekne

Even though before the talk businessman asked which story about his journey to tell – the real one (pointing out how difficult it can be at times) or the inspiring one, in fact the end of the talk was really inspiring, because teenagers generated new ideas, about what they could do in Preiļi, which would instantly have a high demand and would not require huge investment. Good luck to them!

In order to explore activities of other organisations which work in family support field, union members went on an experience sharing trip to Valmiera

Trip provided us with a rather convincing impression, that in Valmiera families are very important – on the streets we saw many expectant mothers, families taking a walk with children in baby trolleys and families cycling together. Indeed there were many children. As information provided by internet shows in Valmiera birth rate surpasses death rate since year 2000. As Arta Masele told, „Pūriņa skolas” – one of the organisation which we visited, manager, Valmiera has 9 municipality and 1 private kindergarten.

,,Pūriņu skola’’ plays a major role in family, and especially expectant mother support, ,,Pūriņu skola’’ has been working for three years. The objective of „Pūriņu skola” is to provide information and experience for expectant mothers, so that they could feel more confident, while waiting for their baby to come into world, they also offer various other classes after the pregnancy, for example kangaroo dancing, consultations with nurses about children’s health, classes about child’s lead eating. The topic about after pregnancy care, which is popular in the country now, „Pūriņu skola” has popularised in Valmiera municipality – organisation is open to give their services, so that Valmiera’s mothers could be able to get this important help in the place they live and  they would not have to go to different specialists with their baby away from home.

„Ideju Māja” whichfor a year has been run by two young mothers Māra and Madarahas also found their own niche in family support field. „Ideju Mājā” offers classes not only for expectant and young families, but also for women and children, aiming to help not only with becoming a mother but also helping to make existing mothers feel good about themselves. Organisation has attracted many specialist from Rīga, because while creating „Ideju Māja”, Māra and Madara, who have just become mothers wanted to bring information about important child care aspects to Valmiera.

There are still couple of month left till the end of project on 14th of January 2016, therefore we welcome everyone who is interested to participate in our offered activities

Complete eligible costs of the project are 22 222,21 EUR, maximum extent of the program co-financing is 19 999,99 EUR or 90% of the final eligible costs of which 95% are provided by European Economic Area financial instrument and 5% from the state budget of Latvia. Union’s funding is 10%of the final eligible costs or 2222,22 EUR, which is made up off  Preiļi and Riebiņi regional council funding as well asunion members voluntary work.

Anita Gāga

Union ,,Family support centre ,,Puķuzirnis’’’’ Member of the Board

 Project is financially supported by Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway. This press release has been created with European Economic Area financial instrument and Latvia state funding. Responsibility of the press release content is taken by ,,Family support centre ,,Puķuzirnis’’ ’’.