In Latvia, Star of Hope is working primarily on improving the situation of children with special needs who are socially excluded. The vision is that all children, with their individual personalities, abilities, and needs, should have a place in a more tolerant and inclusive society.
The work is done on multiple levels with a special focus on putting families first. We believe that family is the most natural and best environment for children to grow and thrive. Thus we work to strengthen families. We want to give them - often single mothers - tools and opportunities to keep their children at home. They must also have confidence and power to be able to give children the support and encouragement they need to one day stand on their own. Families need a place to meet for love, knowledge, respect, exchange experiences, encourage each other and organize. Star of Hope supports the formation of parent groups that meet regularly, all year round and in summer camps. The parent group motivates parents to organize and take responsibility for the care and future development of their children. They are asked to let the children participate in some form of daily activity, preschool, school, special school or day center.
Star of Hope also, for example, provides support for daytime activities for children with special needs and parents groups. Through Nordic occupational therapists, physical therapists, specialist teachers, and others, we provide transfer of knowledge to the Latvian health professionals and authorities and government agencies. Frequently, and in many areas, this has changed their way of working.
The goal of this work is to improve the lives of children by giving them a place where they are treated with love, knowledge, and respect. We also like to inform the parents of the rights they should expect work to change attitudes of health professionals, politicians, and society at large towards children with special needs. The sight of these children has long been characterized by the notion that people with special needs cannot contribute to society and therefore that they are inferior. And for that reason, they have been placed in institutions where they have not had an opportunity to develop as human beings and live full lives.
Star of Hope supports activities that encourage the children to learn to use their bodies, to meet other children, to practice speaking and participate in gymnastics. They also learn how to use their hands to do modeling, needlework and more.
Star of Hope day centers exists for older children. The goal of the work is for young people to learn to take care of themselves and find their place in life. They will learn different types of jobs; pottery, weaving, tailoring, shoemaking and furniture making. Together they go on excursions, arrange meetings and learn to communicate with each other. They also learn to get on the bus, shop and socialize with other people and become familiar with the town by going out and doing things. Just a few years ago all of these things were quite impossible.