The ARA recognizes the Aspasim Foundation and the El Paraigua organization with the Capdevila Award

The ARA recognizes the Aspasim Foundation and the El Paraigua organization with the Capdevila Award

Barcelona / Olot Coinciding with the celebration of the anniversary of the first issue of the newspaper ARA, the jury of the Carles Capdevila Award has decided to distinguish two educational entities: the Aspasim Foundation in Barcelona and El Paraigua in Olot. The prize is endowed with 5,000 euros and was created to remember the memory of the newspaper’s founding director. These are the two stories of the organizations recognized in this 2023 edition.

Aspasim: the Vallvidrera home for people with disabilities

Behind the iron door of the manor house in Vallvidrera, everything is a coming and going: a cry of joy resounds in one room, while in another there is someone in a worse mood. Outside, in the garden there are those who strive to get the harvest going and on the basketball court a lone player throws the ball against the basket and, although he misses it, he smiles silently. It’s 10 in the morning at the Aspasim Foundation and everyone has an assigned job: some learning and others doing their best to learn. Created in the Carmel neighborhood in 1938 thanks to the perseverance of a handful of families to have a school for their children with intellectual disabilities, the organization has been one of two distinguished by the Capdevila Award from the ARA newspaper.

Since then, Aspasim has been growing and adapting to the needs of users. The school was expanded to an occupational workshop to serve those over 21 years old and, later, they also included a residential service, with a small house with four places and ten more floors for children and young people. Glòria Escudero had been a physiotherapist before running the institution’s school and never stops greeting or interacting with the users of the center who pass her by. “How are you, Lili?”, asks a 16-year-old girl who can’t suppress her laughter, while a teacher leads her in a kind of cart, upright, in order to lighten bones and muscles due to being tied to a wheelchair All the people cared for in this home have a great intellectual disability, motor problems, behavioral problems, cerebral palsy… In some cases, these situations are compounded by the fact that they have either lost their family or they cannot care – them in conditions and the DGAIA has their guardianship.

They moved to the Vallvidrera tower in 1985, once again thanks to the efforts of the families, and on these grounds there is a sports court, workshops and even two garden areas, one of which it has a raised plantation, adapted so that people in wheelchairs can work there. “This is inclusion”, notes Escudero. Inclusion is also another important part of Aspasim’s work. As little as possible, it is preferred that the creatures go to an ordinary school, but sometimes the disability or the constant care they require makes this impossible.

“It may be that in some cases they do not adapt to the stimuli of one class and in others, on the other hand, just by meeting children they are already happy and learn what they learn”, points out Escudero. Professionals from the organization also move to these inclusive schools to attend to the children, who have a full schedule of extracurricular activities. So much activity, with a population so demanding of care, requires hiring a lot of staff and having adapted transport and a professional who knows how to move them without hurting them.

Carla Rubió is doing her social education internship at Aspasim, an organization with which she has maintained a connection since she was a student at Escola Vila Olímpica in Barcelona. He remembers that during his primary school years he had a classmate with a disability who was cared for by the organization and that he has always kept a fond memory of that experience and, above all, a learning that has marked him: in all the time that little girl was just another.

El Paraigua, stop the stigma of mental health

For parents, seeing a child have a serious mental health disorder is very hard. But it’s even more so not knowing how to help him, feeling guilty and carrying a social stigma that doesn’t allow you to share your worries and worries. To try to reverse this double suffering, ten years ago a group of families from La Garrotxa with children with mental problems set up El Paraigua, an association that gives protection to fathers and mothers who live in this situation.

“The goal is to take care of the caregiver, so we meet to learn to de-stress, to apologize, to do the things that can go well for us and to understand that we shouldn’t put more burdens on ourselves than we already have” , explains Anna Rodríguez, vice president of El Paraigua and one of the founding family members of the organization. As an initiative committed to the care and improvement of people’s quality of life, El Paraigua also receives the Carles Capdevila Award 2023.

About 60 direct relatives of mental health patients are part of the Olotin association, in addition to volunteers and professionals who complement the mutual support network. They organize regular meetings and facilitate activities for families, such as cooking workshops, art therapy, exhibitions, celebrations and talks with specialists. They take part from police officers to EMS doctors. “When they tell you that your child has a mental health problem, you don’t know where to go, you don’t know the care services, you need advice and to feel accompanied,” says Rodríguez.

Regarding the ARA award, the vice-president comments: “We are very happy, we didn’t even know if it was a joke! It is recognition of the work of a small association, which no one pays attention to and which does not go out in the television, but who works from the ground up for mental health.”

Paraigua wins the Carles Capdevila award

Against stigma and guilt

In addition to building a core of family members who experience similar problems first hand, El Paraigua’s other great workhorse is fighting the stigma associated with mental disorders. They are involved in joint dissemination initiatives with educational centers in Olot, the Mental Health Catalonia platform and companies in the region with integration policies.

Dora Miquel, mother of a girl with borderline personality disorder and autistic spectrum, agrees to say that social prejudices paralyze and are very distressing: “I felt absolutely misunderstood and alone in the world, because these are diseases that stigmatize a lot, but thank you in the association you realize that the same thing happens to more people and that your daughter is not abusing you expressly, but suffers from a disorder.” And she certifies: “As a mother, first you feel very guilty, you think that you have not done things right, that you have failed your daughter, which produces a lot of anxiety, so you also need someone to take care of you: and El Paraigua it’s been an incredible help, they’ve discovered heaven for me.”

A story for schools

Among the latest initiatives of the association, the creation of the story should be highlighted The fabulous journey of Elijah, a pedagogical dissemination project that brings to the primary schools of La Garrotxa a fantasy story about mental health for all audiences. The story, written by Judith Ferrer Tubau -one of the mothers of El Paraigua-, has illustrations by Roser Matas and narrates the journey through space of a student who, during the holidays, discovers planets where characters live with characteristics associated with a certain mental pathology.

“On each planet, the protagonist meets a boy or girl with a way of doing things that corresponds to the autism spectrum, anorexia or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and then explains the trip to the whole class,” describes the author, Judith Ferrer. In addition, the pages of the story are complemented by comprehensive information on the different disorders explained by the psychiatrist at the Child and Youth Mental Health Center (CSMIJ) in La Garrotxa, as well as different classroom orientations for special education professionals. The Salut Mental Catalunya platform has asked for the book to be translated into Spanish so that it reaches centers all over Spain.

2023-11-30 19:24:15
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