Goddag! Hello from K'benhavn, site of the 17th World Congress of the International Association of Social Educators and Social Paedagogerne. More than 700 delegates attended from over 45 different countries! It was notable that a conference for Child and Youth Care workers (here called social educators and social pedagogues) offered a 40% discount for delegates registering from Asia, Africa, Latin America or Palestine!
The Little Mermaid of K'benhavn!
From the opening keynote by Dr Martin Brokenleg about The Globe as a Circle of Courage to the closing address by Dr. Rosa-Maria Torres del Castillo of Ecuador on Social Pedagogy: A View from the South, this conference truly hummed. Diversity of languages, perspectives and people meant that we came away with a real sense of the very big world in which we live and the variety of issues facing children and young people in different parts of the world. It is one thing to talk international. It is quite another bringing together a truly international gathering of Child and Youth Care workers who are defined differently from that found in the English-speaking world.
AIEJI XVII World Congress – The Social Educator in a Globalised World
A special feature of AIEJI Congresses is that one full day is dedicated to field trips. Here small groups (5-10 people) set off mid-week to visit service agencies around the greater Copenhagen region, as well as further afield. In this part of the world, social pedagogues work with children and young people as well as younger and older adults with physical and mental disabilities. It really is, as Karen VanderVen encourages, a life span approach to caring. More than 20 field trip options were available. I joined a field trip organised by Team Online, developers of an impressive B–sted online recording system that targets care work with severely disabled people, members of society who are always at risk of “warehousing care” rather than personalised care.
A Whole Day Committed to Field Trips to Service Agencies
With colleagues from Malta, France and Denmark we travelled for 2 hours by train across Denmark from Copenhagen to Odense, located on the “middle island” of the country. There we met up with Team Online colleagues for an informative presentation about the B–sted IT system used in social care centres internationally to support daily documentation activities with those in receipt of care services. Then we travelled on to Faaborg for a visit to a specialist residential and activity service for mentally and physically handicapped people called the Pegasus Centre. Impressive!
Where Normalisation actually means something!
Young people move into the Pegasus Centre where they are provided with their own bedsit apartment that is fully equipped with lifts and aids, but where each person and their families decorate their own apartments. The apartments are located within two living groups of 8, so that opportunities are provided for young people to engage in social activities and host family members and friends, in a place they can call home for the rest of their lives. None of the residents had language. However, the facilities available included opportunities for music and rhythm activities each morning, and physical and social education on a daily basis. I’d not seen such standards of service.
Graffiti located near Copenhagen Central Station
At day’s end, walking back to my hotel from Copenhagen train station, I came across some graffiti (expletive removed!) that captured a message very much in keeping with our day visiting the Pegasus Centre. Personalised care does require a long-term commitment of resources!