A Project Supporting Education for Young People Helped Míra Return to School

Published: Aug 31, 2022 Reading time: 4 minutes
A Project Supporting Education for Young People Helped Míra Return to School
© Taylor Wilcox

The Synapse Project (Projekt Synapse) aims to test and implement new approaches to better support at-risk children or those struggling to succeed in school. Thanks to the project, we’ve been able to support a total of 387 children and young people from within our target group. One of our clients is a boy named Míra who, thanks to the Synapse Project, is now able to stand on his own two feet after a very difficult childhood.

Míra’s life began to change when his mother found a new partner and divorced his father. “I was 12-years-old at the time and had no idea that my whole life was about to turn upside down because of my mother,” says Míra. In the next few years, not only did his residence change multiple times, but Míra had to switch school quite a few times, as well.

Their difficult financial situation negatively affected the entire family and the OSPOD (Orgán sociálně-právní ochrany dětí – the Organization for the Social and Legal Protection of Children) soon got involved. Míra’s mother even forbade him to go to school for one year, which affected both his knowledge and his psyche. He then started elementary school in Beroun where he had to repeat the school year due to his poor attendance the previous year. Before long, however, Míra stopped going to school again as his younger brother was born and needed someone to take care of him. His mother’s second pregnancy worsened the family’s financial situation and Míra spent some nights sleeping in cars, at railway stations or at friends’ houses. His mother’s partner also had issues with alcohol, which led to aggression. Míra was often left entirely alone, until one day the situation of his mother’s partner got so bad that he was sent to Klokánek in Prague, a facility for children in need of urgent assistance.

“The new school year started, and I entered a vocational school and, to avoid living with my mother, she arranged accommodation for me in youth home. When I got there, I didn’t know what to do. Then I realised that there was nothing to be afraid of and that living in a youth home was actually better than living with my mum,” Míra explained. He also began to work with a career counsellor from People in Need.

Míra just had to find his place

In the beginning, he struggled with low self-esteem at school, but he gradually found his place and learned to set boundaries for himself and for his classmates. Individual meetings  with Míra focused on addressing his academic successes and failures, as well as providing necessary psychological support. He says that this cooperation helped him to understand some things about himself and harness the determination necessary to take responsibility over his own life. He now perceives his journey through school as a sort of rebound from the bottom and second chance to develop his life for the better. Over the years, he has met with several career counsellors and each of them has enriched his life and helped him see things from a different perspective. Míra was paid a stipend of CZK 1,000 (€41) for his studies, which helped him cover any costs associated with school, like transportation.

“Finally, I could do what I wanted: go to school and make friends,” Míra told us.

Over the course of his studies at vocational school, Míra started seeing his biological father and brother, something his mother denied him from doing in the past. After a series of events, and perseverance on the part of the father, Míra was finally entrusted into his father’s care. “Finally, I could do what I wanted: go to school and make friends,” Míra told us.

Míra successfully completed his studies and was awarded his vocational school certificate. He began working as a production operator this past July.

The Synapse Project offers services, including counselling for academic dropouts, as well as preventive programs for children and youth with who struggle with more personal problems. This project took place from 01/09/2019 to 30/06/2022 in various locations around the Czech Republic (specifically, the Pilsen and Olomouc regions, as well as Bílina, Ústí nad Labem and Beroun).

In total, we’ve supported a total of 387 children and young people from within the target group. A total of 50 of those supported have gone on to achieve additional support, totalling more than 40 hours of support. In sum, we’ve closed 674 contracts and made more than 7,900 referrals. 

The Synapse Project is financed through the Employment Operational Programme (Operační program Zaměstnanost) of the European Union.

Author: Eliška Ratiborská. Translators: Adéla Zámečníková and Anna Munter

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