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AUTHOR: Grit Betrhelsen (Denmark), Joris Geurden (Estonia) and Lina Trebienė (Lithuania)
collaborating countries: Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania
The Nordplus Adult project started up in August 2012, and the project partners from Maarja Village in Estonia, Limfjordsskolen in Denmark and Jaunuoliu dienos centras in Lithuania set out to address the fact that the trained staff working with disabled youth had insufficient or no knowledge when it comes to providing sexual education.
This topic has been a taboo for a long time in Lithuania and Estonia, while Scandinavians are more experienced in this field of education. The Baltic partners therefore had much to gain from cooperating with their Danish partner.
Improving confidence and knowledge
The professionals working with mentally disabled youth from Estonia, Denmark and Lithuania wished to focus, concentrate and learn – and hopefully achieve confidence and expertise – in order to be able to provide proper sexual education for their students. They wished to compare different models, find strong and weak points, modulate the models in respect of the cultural differences, exchange knowledge and ideas, get new inspiration and create useful guidelines for sexual education for mentally disabled youth.
After one year of fruitful collaboration, the knowledge and experience have improved rapidly. The subject has become a natural part in planning, experimental workshops and educational projects. The project has also gained attention through the project blog; Guidelines for Sexual Education for mentally disabled youth, where the outcomes of the project are published.
Respecting individual differences
The project addresses the staff working with mentally disabled youngsters, but the main beneficiaries are the youth, who receive qualified sexual education. They know, they feel, they sense and they ARE the best evaluators of the project.
“Now I feel much better, because it was the first time in my life that I have the possibility to talk about my feelings openly. And I'm no longer afraid to talk to my parents about this topic as well”, said one Lithuanian youngster.
The basic theme of the project is that everyone has an equal right to sexual education that respects individual differences. The project partners believe that an eye-opening is on the way, and they have already seen major progress in their students’ personal life.