Improved Social Environment in the border regions of Latvia and Russia

Improvement of the social environment and ensuring its accessibility is one of the indicators which characterize the welfare of the state, including the friendly and accessible environment to every inhabitant, as well as the equity to receive services.

Such an objective, especially increasing the living standards and social environment accessibility for children with special needs and social risk groups were raised by Estonian-Latvian-Russian Programme project “Nature Therapy”. The partnership of the project was formed by the Latvian office of Euroregion “Country of lakes”, Daugavpils, Ilūkste, Līvāni and Dagda municipalities (Latvia), State Administration of Social Welfare of the Pskov Region and Center for Curative Pedagogy and Differential Learning (Pskov)(Russia).

Different types of equipment of social rehabilitation were purchased within the project, for example, a wheelchair lift, a mobile machine to overcome the flight of stairs, aquariums, ergonomic kitchen gadgets and writing sets, furniture for the improvement of the relaxation rooms, orthopedic mattresses, TV and audio equipment, sand therapy equipment, hardware, garden tools and other.

The following social sites became more accessible for local inhabitants and visitors: Children House – Shelter “Priedīte”, where modern sloping was constructed, and Social Care Day Centre for persons with mental disabilities in Daugavpils; 2 outdoor playgrounds for children, including special area for children with special needs, in Dagda and Vecdome; Day center of Livani Social Department and Family Support Center in Ilūkste where the premises were reconstructed (Latvia); Beljsko-Ustjensk children house in Porhovsk district and Bobrovsk children house in Pechory district where the rooms for the nature therapy training were reconstructed; Center for Curative Pedagogy and Differential Learning in Pskov, sensory garden for children with special needs was created.

In addition, within the project the knowledge on nature therapy as a unique rehabilitation method was improved both for individuals and professionals, while raising awareness about the healing effects of nature – physical, psychological and social factors of positive effects on the human organism.
The social workers from Latvia and Russia acquired theoretical and practical experience about the kinds of the nature therapy within three international training courses. The methodology and the practical uses of the reittherapy, canistherapy, sand, colour, art therapy, phytotherapy and aromatherapy were gained for the development of social environment, the professional skills and the job opportunities of the nature therapists were presented and acquired.
64 children from large and one-parent families, as well as 80 parents and their children with special needs within 2 international summer camps and two 2-day open air workshops got not only physical and mental relaxation, but also in the practical way a variety of nature therapies. They learned to inspire from themselves on a daily basis from the forces of the nature and health.

The visitors of the organized activities within the project found that the project for many Latvian and Russia families has provided positive feelings, helped find and deal with many social issues, thus improved and harmonized the family and the community living environment.

Project ELRII-351 “Nature Therapy” financed with assistance of the Estonia – Latvia – Russia Cross Border Cooperation Programme within European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument 2007 – 2013. Total budget of project: 220 225,00 EUR, incl. ERDF co-financing 90% – 198 202,50 EUR, national financing 10% – 22 022,50 EUR.
Project implementation time: May 15, 2013 – October 14, 2014.

Laila Vilmane,
project manager of Latvian Office
of Euroregion “Country of lakes”
Phone +371 26529150

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