Community development in the US and in Switzerland

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We started the day off at the community project of Pro Senectute, known as Rellsten-Zopf-Oberleimbach, where we learned about elderly integration and how they integrate with the community around them.  Ruedi and Soraja mentioned some of the opportunities they provide for the residents that participate in the program – knitting classes, language classes, gardening, etc.  The agency we visited works with two different generations, the young and the old.  In this agency, their groups consist of 25 to 30 members regularly; ages ranging from 50 to 90. In order to get the word out about the project, they provide newsletters every three months for households 55 or older. This program is free and they don’t have to live in the district.

The biggest similarity between these organizations is that they are strongly based on the fact that they should integrate the community with elderly care. In comparison to the United States we focus more on the housing first model, which means we place clients into housing-first and then provide them with services.   The students gave presentations regarding homelessness, community development, and sociocultural animation in America and Switzerland.  We learned that Switzerland has a strong and growing sociocultural animation where they work along the field with community centers and open youth work; whereas, the United States does not work as closely with the community/development, but more with agencies.

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In the second agency, OJA, there main focus is to give youth safe alternatives to hang out and be children. OJA works with schools, churches, youth workers in town as well as other agencies or organizations.  OJA has a close bond with the local policeman to maintain peace and good communication with the residents, community, and the youth.  OJA has an open door policy for the youth where they can come in and ask questions about activities and work around the area.  They are also allowed a key in order to hangout “after hours.”  OJA has eight centers in Switzerland and the agency is free of charge.  The members consist of 60% boys and 40% girls.

While at the agency Marco and his colleague took us on a tour of the youth’s hangout spots and brought in a youth member who informed us about his impressions of the agency.  Compared to the United States, the U.S. does not offer many options for youth when it comes to having free space or even free activities.

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After visiting the agencies and watching presentations, our group was invited to Jessica’s (Swiss student) for a social gathering/BBQ.  We had delicious food, great company, and made long lasting memories.

4 Comments

  1. Kristy Downing

    15. July 2016 at 11:40

    I really LOVED the OJA. What they are doing for the youth in the community is fantastic. They definitely know that kids will be kids, and they know they have energy and need something to do. I really like that they don’t allow alcohol either so try try to set a good environment for all of the kids.

  2. Elizabeth Sweeney

    17. July 2016 at 5:05

    I loved hearing about the elderly program! I think it is amazing that there is so much respect for their elders, and that lessons they’ve learned are being taught to the younger generation. It is also interesting that they have classes for elders to cook or learn a new language and that no matter how old you are, you are still able to keep learning.

  3. Nicole Baumer

    18. July 2016 at 23:25

    I loved that they have a unique way for the Elderly to get together and have as place to share common interest. I also loved that they put some much effort into showing the Elderly how to organize and then eventually the program will be self run once they find a place to meet. Also the respect that the teens have for their elders is awesome. I loved that they had a class where the teens showed older adults how to use smart phones. Very Neat!

  4. By Chukwudubem Obianagha

    20. July 2016 at 21:58

    As a health care professional, I know about the ever increasing scourge of Alzheimer and schizophrenia which typically occurs at old age. The risk of these health conditions are typically because of the inactive lifestyle and little or no activity of the brain. With the above program, the elderly are incentivized to be productive people in the society by bringing them together where they can find people to have conversations with as well as provide them with some activities to do like knitting. For these reasons, the elderly live longer and reduces their susceptibility to health conditions that can be solved by merely engaging them and giving them a reason to leave home and stay active

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