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A smile for everyone

‘’I’m so proud to be able to give massages and relieve people of back pain’’, says Metka Kotar, one of the participants in the project called ‘’A smile for everyone’’ which is carried out in the Special Social Care and Employment Centre Zagorje ob Savi. The project targets vulnerable groups in the region and offers an array of services that make them feel better and healthier. As they participate in project activities, both clients and staff at the Special Social Care and Employment Centre gain skills, competencies and knowledge which they can apply, e.g. doing massages by using relaxation techniques, providing recreational activities and delivering workshops on healthy food and eating habits.

‘’A smile for everyone’’ takes a holistic approach to helping individuals. It is a platform where individuals can get help in overcoming everyday obstacles and issues and get empowered to deal with their problems on their own. The project also encourages individuals to take better care of their health, and improves their social inclusion. Additionally, it fosters intergenerational cooperation, innovativeness and creativity and supports the creation of development partnerships. A number of activities, including workshops, therapies and organised exercise programmes are delivered to make people feel better and bring a smile to their face. These services are offered to the clients of the Special Social Care and Employment Centre and other vulnerable target groups in the region in dedicated and well equipped premises and under the watchful eye of the staff. The project also helps help break stereotype and assumption that members of vulnerable groups are unable to work. While, indeed, there have been no reports about individuals from this population group working as massage therapists, the centre staff have noticed they have an outstanding gift of touch.

Clients of the Special Social Care and Employment Centre are encouraged to hang out and have fun, and they often play a didactic game ‘’A smile for everyone’’ which was created in the scope of the project, tuned in to the needs of the target groups and relating to the topic of healthy lifestyle. While the game brings them together in a relaxed and fun way, it is also an educating tool serving the purpose of improving the knowledge they gain at organised workshops.

The project has significantly improved the quality of life for target population groups in the region and for the general population, as its deliverables, i.e. the publication on well-being, the didactic game and the exercise video are easily accessible to everyone.

Beneficiary: Special Social Care and Employment Centre Zagorje ob Savi

Programme: Operational Programme for the Implementation of the EU Cohesion Policy in the Period 2014-2020

Fund: European Social Fund

Project funding: EUR 105,000

EU contribution: EUR 67,000

Photo: Special Social Care and Employment Centre Zagorje ob Savi