Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia

by Creative Educational Center KEC
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia

As you know, one of KEC’s main missions is finding employment for people with intellectual and mental disabilities. KEC aims to place each of our beneficiaries in an engaging and dynamic work environment. Through the years we have developed remarkably fruitful relationships with many local companies, institutions and organizations. On-boarding and supporting employees with special needs is not always an easy process but our partners are as committed as we are to giving each individual a chance to contribute to her society.

 

One of our most successful partnerships has been with the Hyatt Hotel of Belgrade. KEC first started collaboration with the international hotel in the early 2000s and the relationship has continued to grow in the decades that followed. When we first worked together on the Hyatt’s Christmas tree decoration program, we had no idea how this relationship would develop. Then we were given a bare tree and our beneficiaries decked it out with creative decorations. Today decades later, two KEC beneficiaries, Kaca and Jelena, are employed at the Hyatt, Hyatt employees volunteer in our center and Hyatt International even recognized this powerful relationship with one of it is community grants. At one point, 8 KEC beneficiaries were engaged in various tasks at the hotel through our work engagement program. In 2020, Kaca and Jelena met all the criteria and were hired as full-fledged hotel employees. KEC is grateful to Hyatt for its partnership and its commitment to building stronger communities in the places where it works.

 

It is only with partners like Hyatt, and supporters like you, that KEC is able to able to continue its work on behalf of people with intellectual and mental disabilities.

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Statue
Statue

Just like all of you, we at KEC are eager to leave our COVID induced small environments and start getting back into the larger world. Our beneficiaries and their families are impatient to once again experience the freedom of moving around and the joy and security of the KEC center. But we remain fully aware that while the crisis is hopefully ebbing we must remain vigilant in our measures.

While severe COVID restrictions were in place KEC developed an online program to work with more than 80 of our beneficiaries individually and in groups. These psycho-social activities kept us in touch with our users and allowed us to offer additional support where needed. Despite these efforts our beneficiaries really just wanted to see each other and to experience the KEC center “in real life”. Their patience has paid off.

With the lifting of restrictions we have started holding regular activities in the center except in smaller groups and for shorter time periods. Our beneficiaries are happy to be reunited with their friends and to once again be busy with KEC activities. Each day small groups of beneficiaries come to the center for two hour educational programs run by our team of professionals. 

In an effort to gradually re-open the center one of our first group activities was to take advantage of the nicer weather and organize regular walks around town. One of the most interesting of these outings was to the newly erected statue of Stefan Nemanja. This enormous statue was unveiled during the height of the restrictions so this was the first chance for most of our beneficiaries to experience it first hand.

Through this outing and others like it our beneficiaries got to see how the world changed a little while they were sheltering in place (a new statue) and how in some ways nothing had changed (KEC friends).

We at KEC hope that all of you are also once again experiencing the joys of the world that has been closed off for the past few months. We hope you get a chance to notice some of the things that have changed in the world but also appreciate the things that remained the same.

Thanks for your on-going support to our programming. Your support and good wishes have helped us endure this hard period.

KEC @ Stefan Nemanja
KEC @ Stefan Nemanja
Something New
Something New
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Luka and Friends Dancing
Luka and Friends Dancing

Luka, 25 years old, is grateful that he found KEC before the Corona virus hit. After finishing an inclusive secondary school program with training to be a masseur Luka found himself at home for years with no prospects for work or to socialize with peers. In the fall of 2019 his mom, Snezana, brought him to see KEC. There he managed to find everything that was missing in one place—friends, work and a place to learn.

Right away he made new friends and actively participated in workshops, activities and outings.  His friend Marija says: “Luka is such a good friend. He always wants to help me. When I need it and even when I don’t. I like that when he saw M. pushing Z. around he stuck up for her and told M. to stop.”

Aleksandra, a KEC staff member says that: “working with Luka is a true reminder of why I choose this profession and the good that can come from it.” She says that although Luka is shy he wanted to be able to improve his public speaking skills. With her help he made a presentation about his work assembling PR materials to a group of professionals participating in a training program. “We were all impressed by his confidence, the quality of his presentation and most of all by his pride in his work. It was obvious that during his short time at KEC he had gained new skills and was excited about these new opportunities. As a professional seeing this transformation it is what makes me feel most fulfilled.” In addition to assembling PR materials, Luka works as a masseur, helps clean the center and takes care of the plants. After a few months of training and monitoring, the KEC team decided that Luka was ready for employment. In January 2020 Luka fulfilled one of his dreams and got his first paycheck from his first job.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 changed all of our lives and plans. Because of social distancing measures Luka can’t do his work as we had planned but he used this time to finish a massage course and to help out in the center whenever there was a need. Most importantly he managed to stay in touch with his new friends during this difficult period. He made it to KEC just in time!

We are all looking forward to the end of this period so that KEC can return to full operations and welcome Luka and his friends back to the center soon!

Luka Delivers Packages
Luka Delivers Packages
Keeping Fit at KEC During COVID-19
Keeping Fit at KEC During COVID-19
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After Work Trip to The Zoo
After Work Trip to The Zoo

Over the past decades KEC has been at the forefront of efforts to find employment for people with special needs in Belgrade. Its efforts resulted in the creation of a special work module known as work engagement and sparked the push for regular and assisted employment for our beneficiaries. KEC’s entry into the labor market started with McDonald’s and has grown to include over 30 companies, institutions and organizations across Belgrade and almost 200 beneficiaries. Based on the company’s needs KEC matches its beneficiaries with work placement positions. KEC provides all the necessary forms of support, training and evaluation. Its experience in creating and implementing this program made it possible for KEC to become the licensed trainer for such programs in Serbia. Today, KEC helps other organizations implement similar programs in their communities

 

Through this work KEC has made a lot of fruitful relationships with many companies and cultural institutions. One of the most successful partnerships has been with the National Employment Board (NEB), a government agency overseeing the labor market and employment opportunities. Understanding the importance of employment for people with disabilities, NEB has created special programs for this target group throughout the country.

 

During much of the Corona period KEC was able to keep some of its beneficiaries working through this collaboration with the NEB. This innovative approach to work allowed 8 people with moderate degrees of disabilities to use their skills and energy to keep the KEC facility clean, assembled and delivered aid packages for KEC families and other necessary tasks. When the KEC center is fully functioning it is inspiring to see one KEC beneficiary at work helping another KEC beneficiary. For now, while COVID lingers, they were at work one at a time in the center.

 

This collaboration with the NEB is a great stride in KEC’s effort to find a job for every person with a disability. NEB’s recognition that these individuals are part of the potential workforce and creating stimulus programs to entice companies to find positions on their teams is a huge success. It is also a big win, in a society like this, when a government agency is eager to recognize and collaborate with the NGO sector.

 

Despite the pandemic KEC is moving forward to create positive experiences for people with disabilities.

Spring Cleaning
Spring Cleaning
Sweeping Up
Sweeping Up
Aid Packages Packed by a Friend
Aid Packages Packed by a Friend
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Art Workshop from a Distance
Art Workshop from a Distance

On March 11th the World Health Organization officially characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic. With this announcement the world came to terms with the fact that the virus had reached all corners of the earth. On March 15th a state of emergency was declared in Serbia and KEC was forced to close its doors. It was hard to tell those we serve, those people who depend on our services, that for their own safety and the safety of those around them they needed to stay at home.

During this global pandemic people have been forced to confront big changes in their daily lives, adapt to the new realities and social losses. Many of our beneficiaries feel this even more acutely. They are scared, confused, bored and lonely. They need to be engaged and supported while forced to practice social distancing.

Recognizing this KEC redirected its efforts to electronic check-ins with our beneficiaries and their families. Our great team quickly developed new methods for connecting with our clients and soon after started implementation. The team’s highest priority in each contact was to maintain empathy despite the distance. During daily online calls, chats or small remote group sessions the counselor, special education teacher, speech therapist, psychologist affirmed to each of our beneficiaries that their fears, anger and distress were valid emotions and helped them cope with them.

In addition to these electronic sessions KEC also helped families with their existential needs. The majority of our families are single parents and many of them barely survive financially in normal times. Like for so many people, the COVID virus has only made survival even more difficult. We managed to collect and distribute 121 food packages for our families.

KEC staff and families are eager for the programs to begin again “in real life” but we are still closed for now. Considering the special needs of our community we are cautious about reopening. We will consult with the authorities about how and when to do this. Until then we will all have to accept the socially distanced version of KEC.

 Your help and support enables us to keep providing this support to our beneficiaries and their families. The KEC team hopes that you and your families are safe and healthy.

Keeping Fit with KEC
Keeping Fit with KEC
Social Distancing with KEC
Social Distancing with KEC
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Organization Information

Creative Educational Center KEC

Location: Belgrade - Serbia
Website:
Project Leader:
Margareta Kecman
Belgrade, Serbia
$24,260 raised of $25,000 goal
 
404 donations
$740 to go
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