This two and a half year Erasmus+ project, running from December 2019, aims to develop training for young mediators to support and foster inclusion of children and youngsters on the autism spectrum into community structures in Portugal, Spain and Italy.
Funded by the European Commission, the Young Mediators for Inclusion (YMI) project was launched in Setúbal (Portugal), with project partners representing autism organisations, academics, and professionals from Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece, and Autism-Europe.
Even when young autistic people are not institutions, they are merely integrated into society. “What we want is to see is real inclusion”, emphasised the project coordinators from the Portuguese organisation ‘Innovar Autismo’ at the kick-off meeting, held on January 27 and 28 2020.
Coordinators also pointed out that while some people on the autism spectrum are supported by personal assistants, they are usually confined to school settings. However, when an autistic child or young person is, for instance, training at its favourite football club then personal assistances are rarely around. So this is where such young mediators could be useful. They can be team mates of the football club or buddies from the autistic youngsters’ favourite leisure activities.
To exemplify the difficulties to do so, especially in a rural area, the kick-off meeting took place in a small town at the fringes of the Lisbon metropolitan area.
To develop and execute a training for mediators, the project coordinators will team up with autism organisations ‘Autismo Burgos’ from Spain, ‘Diversamente Onlus ODV’ from Italy. After that academic project partner Insituto Universitario de Lisboa – ISCTE’, will evaluate the training. The Greek professional IT partner ‘InterMediaKT’ will provide technical support of the results.
Autism-Europe will disseminate the project information and help create European Guidelines for training young mentors for inclusion of youngster on the autism spectrum.
In order to achieve this project partners will be meeting again in September 2020 in Burgos, Spain, in January 2021 in Cagliari, Sardinia; Italy, in June 2021 in Patras, Greece. The project will finally be rounded up by an international meeting in Brussels at the beginning of 2022.