The fifth (5th) short-term joint staff training and learning activity in Ptuj, Slovenia, was completed with great success. 20 teachers, coordinators and participants in the Artemotion Xpress in Europe project from each partner country met at the Primary school dr. Ljudevita Pivka Ptuj - special school from 22 to 26 May 2017 to exchange good practices and improve the quality of their teaching methods.
The Slovenian school has 99 pupils with special developmental disabilities aged 6 to 26 and about 50 persons are working there either full-time or part-time.
The Slovenian partners organized an excellent mobility, with exemplary hospitality, excellent organization, a complete educational program and care for our cultural information. The welcome of Slovenian colleagues and schoolchildren was truly warm. Tanja Nikolovski, project coordinator in Slovenia, together with the Erasmus + team of the school and the collaboration of all their colleagues, prepared a program with educational activities, well organized, interactive and perfectly educating.
Sunday 21.5.2017 was the day of the arrival of the partners from around Europe (Greece, Romania, Poland, Germany and Spain) in Slovenia. In the evening, the Slovenian coordinator Mrs Tanja Nikolovski, welcomed us at a welcome dinner.
On Monday, May 22, 2017, we met early in the morning at the school for the official welcome of the students and teachers. Everybody welcomed us with great joy and enthusiasm, and the school musical band played musical instruments and sang in our honor.
Later, teachers gave us a tour around the school. Their school is brand new, highly functional, spacious, sunny, well-equipped and beautiful.
Then we were divided into groups and participated in various workshops conducted by teachers in the classrooms with collaboration with the pupils. Specifically:
"Yoga and we" The workshop was held by Mrs. Tamara Tomasic and a charismatic student. Initially, information was given about yoga and its effect on students (pupils with ADHD, autism). Then, pupils and adults while listening to loud music painted on a large cardboard using brushes. Strong and sharp lines were obvious. Immediately afterwards, exercises were practiced mainly asanas yoga, while listening to relaxed music as well as a history in Slovenian that helps in meditation and relaxation of students. Finally, we painted again with paintbrushes on a large piece of paper, listening to relaxed music. The difference was obvious in the way students and adults were holding the brush and drawing lines, as it was clearly more relaxed, calm and untensioned.
“How to design a postcard of town Ptuj”. This workshop was held by Mrs. Alenka Kosem. The participants, adults and children, originally observed a wide variety of pictures of the city of Ptuj with well-known buildings such as the church, the castle, the gallery, the theater. They then chose a photocopy of a half-completed building and had to paint the rest. In the third part of the workshop the participants were photographed in various poses. With the editing technique and montage, Ms Kosem, produced postcards with the participants saluting from the tall buildings. It was really a smart and creative workshop that excited both young and old.
“Hand sewing, embroidery”. The workshop was held by Mrs. Marija Arnus. Students and teachers have created a jeans key chain. They used threads, needles, jeans cloth, metal plates. On fabric they painted facial expressions, mainly joy and then sewing and sticking, students and teachers made a wonderful and useful keychain which they exchanged with each other.
“Folk games and dances for children”. Mrs. Vesna Horvat held the workshop with a group of students and teachers in the gym. The participants had the opportunity to meet and play traditional Slovenian games and learn traditional dances. Having fun and dancing, they have been better acquainted with students as the dance has no language restrictions.
“Welcome plates for doors”. In this particular workshop by Mrs. Nada Pernek, we used clay to make decorative welcome plates that can be hung on doors, walls, etc. The students and the participants came in contact with the clay and with their hands made beautiful creations with imagination and taste. At the end, the plates were painted by the students.
After lunch, we visited the Institute for Education, Labor and Care dr. Marijan Borštnar Dornava (http://www.zavod-dornava.si/index.php/index-en.html). It is an institution that provides education, training, care and hospitality to people with moderate and severe developmental disorders and mental illnesses, aiming at the social integration of these individuals and their partial or total autonomy. According to the needs of each individual, the following programs are implemented: adult education, training of people with autism, mental health care, rehabilitation of persons with head injuries, Snoezelen, self-protection, riding and hippotherapy, pedagogical therapeutic driving, life in an integrated environment , medical care, care and protection, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, psychological treatment, social work, work with parents.
Later, we visited "Living in integrated housing"(http://www.zavod-dornava.si/index.php/life-in-housing.html) where we were again divided into groups and visited different apartments. The Greek team was welcomed by three residents (2 women and one man) with their supervisor. They showed us around their home and described their lives there while working in the city and staying in the apartment for several years under supervision. In other apartments were couples living happily together.
On Tuesday, May 23, 2017 we initially attended a presentation concerning the intervention to people with disabilities with the help of animals (Presentation of the AAI - Animal Assisted Intervention (http://www.zavod-pet.si/en/index.php/ terapija-s-pomocjo-psa) by Mrs. Ziva Ketis. This is a very interesting intervention which requires many years of training and expertise to implement correctly both for the trainer and the dog (mostly dogs are used). Follow, in a class with students we participated to the intervention program with dogs. It was truly easy to observe the happiness and excitement the pupils felt within the program and the contact with the trained dog. The program is implemented at the school in a regular basis, thus, the students learn to care for and love animals, how to feed them, groom them, take them for a walk or just spend time together as the animal will never judge the abilities of the child.
There were three more workshops in which we participated in groups.
“Let's make Potica”. The workshop was held by Mrs. Tina Rajh. The participants were divided into groups (teacher - child) and following the oral instructions they made the traditional Slovenian sweet “potica”. The process of cooking brought them close and created feelings of satisfaction for the students. All together the next day we had the chance to taste their pastry skills.
“Slovenija in a song and words”. The workshop was presented by Jasna Veber Zazula and Klementina Mikec Korpic. Initially, the partners met with the school's music band. Pupils play a variety of musical instruments such as piano, accordion, wood-bells, bells, drums, etc. Then they learned the lyrics of a Slovenian traditional song and all together with the use of musical instruments sang. The music once again brought together young and old and caused beautiful and unique feelings.
“Logographic reading - method for children with moderate intellectual disabilities”. The workshop was held by Mrs. Aleksandra Skoflek. This is a specialized educational method where pupils learn to read using images. The student sees an image, names it, and thus learns the word. The method is divided into three stages in the logographic, alphabetical and orthographic. As the student progresses in each stage he advances to the next and thus conquers the mechanisms of reading and writing.
At noon, the coordinators' meeting was held to evaluate the program, for further planning, and discussion about the progress of our work. Also the German coordinator Heike Eichbauer passed the muse and mascot of our project to the Slovenian coordinator Tanja Nikolovski. The muse will now continue her journey through the arts and emotions in a new European country to get to know a new culture, new students and educational systems.
Everyday, the well-organized program combined school and cultural activities, giving more value to the goals of our Artemotion Xpress in Europe project synonymous with Art and Emotions. So, on Tuesday afternoon, we visited Pohorje the ski resort in Maribor, a town 25km away from Ptuj. With the funicular we went up the mountain and enjoyed a walk in the woods as well as the wonderful view of the city of Maribor. Later we took part in some recreational activities that the center provided.
Wednesday, May 24, 2017 was a day dedicated to our acquaintance with Slovenia. So we visited Cave Postojna as well as the capital Ljubljana. It was a wonderful day trip that helped us understand the culture of Slovenia and Slovenians, gave us beautiful historical information about the past and the present and more generally helped us with the understanding of the country's socio-economic situation. Ljubljana, the city of 350,000 people in the central part of the country, was rewarded by the European Commission for its dedication to improving the urban environment and its sustainability, and was named the "green" capital of Europe for 2016. Our evening lunch was in a restaurant where people with disabilities work and was particularly special.
On Thursday, May 25, 2017, he started with a morning guided tour at Ptuj Castle where we received information about the history of the area and the castle. We enjoyed the art in every step with unique paintings, decorations, furniture, weapons of war, armors.
Later, we headed to the school where we had a seminar about the theoretical part of the Halliwick swimming method. It is a specialized method for people with disabilities. Teachers use this method and apply it to their students in the local swimming pool of the city. The aim of the method is that students learn to swim autonomously through activities in the water. The method is based on hydrostatic, hydrodynamic and kinesiology techniques. It is a holistic method of education concerning water and body, education and learning, challenge and motivation, activity, games and music, the dynamics of the groups.
After the theoretical part of the Halliwick concept of swimming we headed to Ptuj's pool. There all partners with accompanied by skilled staff had the opportunity for an introductory seminar on the Halliwick method in the pool in order to apply the theoretical points of the method. Participants considered the method to be extremely interesting and effective while relaxing and having fun.
The last afternoon workshop of the day was “Horseback riding therapy”. We went to the farm of the teacher Tamara Tomasic, a licensed hippotherapist, where we were informed about the techniques of hippotherapy. We came in contact with the horses, we took care of them and we ridded them following the rules and advice of the trainer. The experience was unique, the contact with the horses was unforgettable, the scenery was magnificent and the hospitality splendid.
Back to school we watched the pupils' show for the closure of our visit and farewelled us. It was a beautiful show where students and teachers were singing, dancing, playing theater. It was full of rhythm, happiness, creativity and emotions. The show was also attended by the Greek Second Ambassador of Slovenia Mr. Stamatios Messinis and the head of Culture department in German Ambassy in Ljubljana Mr. Peter Lange. We whole heartedly thank them for the great honor.
Last, the questionnaires for the evaluation of the short term joint staff training and learning event were completed by all the participants and the impressions were excellent.
The farewell dinner in the evening was also very beautiful. Firstly, we received the project's certificates of attendance from the school principal Mrs Lidija Hamersak Marin and Mrs Tanja Nikolovski, coordinator of the program with a lot joy and thrill. The bond between all the participants has become very strong after 20 months of implementation of the project, so with a lot of dancing and singing we said goodbye and renewed our educational appointment for the next last mobility in Greece.
We sincerely thank our dear colleagues from Slovenia for the beautiful mobility, the well-structured program, the variety of activities and actions, the impeccable hospitality and exchange of good practices. Thank you to the Principal Mrs Lidija Hamersak Marin, the Debuty Principal Mrs Borica Munda, Mrs Tanja Nikolovski Project Coordinator, Saška Serec Šijanec, Marija Arnuš, Vesna Horvat, Nada Pernek, Tamara Tomašič, Tanja Knehtl, who were always tireless next to us, offering to us with smiles and love this unique experience.
We sincerely thank our dear colleagues from Slovenia for the beautiful mobility, the well-structured program, the variety of activities and actions, the impeccable hospitality and exchange of good practices. Thank you to the Principal Mrs Lidija Hamersak Marin, the Debuty Principal Mrs Borica Munda, Tanja Nikolovski Project Coordinator, Saska Serec Sijanec, Marija Arnus, Vesna Horvat, Nada Pernek, Tamara Tomasic, Tanja Knehtl, who were always tireless next to us, offering to us with smiles and love this lovely experience.
Main Coordinator of the Erasmus+ project “Artemotion Xpress in Europe”
Athens, 1 June, 2017