Children's Special Needs Program

Projects - Current
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller

One of the core values of our mission to bring dignity to the refugee population on Lesvos and Samos is connectivity. When working with the community living in Kara Tepe – the camp for the most vulnerable cases on Lesvos – this value helps to shape our programs and services.

In the autumn of 2018, one of our former sports coordinators Tirza Vander Linden recognised the vast amount of young children who live in Kara Tepe with special needs. What stunned Tirza the most was the amount of time these children were spending inside their shelters, disconnected from their environment and community.

In looking for a better way to connect and stimulate these children, our special needs program was born. 

In March 2019, recurring visiting volunteer Marie O'Donoghue started assisting with the program. With a background in special needs and education, Marie and Tirza began to work together to develop an activity program for children with special needs. This program we now call SPACES and it is at the final editing stage. 

The ideaology and methodologies of SPACES now underpins the work that our local coordinators, Konstantina, Anna, Stratos and Samira carry out every week. The coordinators also receive additional help from a female resident volunteer from Kara Tepe.

The SPACES sessions are hosted twice a week in small groups in our community centre in Kara Tepe. (Due to COVID-19 and associated restrictions, this groups are now smaller and sessions conducted with necessary precautions.) The sessions provide a series of interactive and education games that provide stimulation to the paticipating children and offer greater connectivity for parents, too.

Each group in the program consists of children with physical, mental and sensory disabilities; boys and girls aged five to 15 years old.

These groups not only attend educational sessions but also have the chance to participate together in community events and play with children in the sports program.

Our program coordinators have noticed a clear improvement in the behaviour of these children since the launch of the project.

“They are easier to communicate with, they cooperate with one another and they learn how to support each other and feel a part of the community in Kara Tepe,” Konstantina explains.  

“What’s beautiful to see is just how supportive and encouraging the families of these children are. And also how friendly they have become with us, even though we don’t speak the same language.”

Want to support the continuation of this program? Donate towards our mission to bring a sense of dignity and humanity back to the refugee population on Lesvos and Samos!


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