The programme was written 20 years ago. Two years later, on these foundations the "House on the Estate" was established.
In an ordinary flat on the estate in the centre of Lodz, six persons with intellectual disabilities, of both sexes and different age (the youngest was 9 at that time, the oldest was 19), created their first home in their lives. They made it from scratch, with the help of the assistants, in the sight of the whole estate. Thrown into deep waters, they learned independent life.
The assumption of the programme was that a person with intellectual challenges does not need specially created conditions, but the environment identical to the one we all need, to trigger comprehensive development. What is needed is the sense of safety, one's own stable place of residence, where one may stay till the end of their lives if they want to, acceptance from the environment, individual contact, kindness, help in discovering one's own abilities and learning about one's needs. And motivation. This last one didn't need to be invented, it was there, in the task ahead of them.
The rules are tough: the residents do everything on their own. The assistants accompany them, instruct them, advise and correct them, but never do things instead of their charges. Living in a community is based on mutual trust, not on punishments and rewards. Everyone had to decide on these regulations individually, accept them, in order to find themselves in our home.
The beginnings were difficult, the path difficult. We followed this path with our charges, learning about them and ourselves, making mistakes, but also feeling satisfaction from seeing how the change. They were the ones to established subsequent stages of our way together, with their achievements, discovered progress, and developmental possibilities, previously neglected.
As soon as after a year, they stopped taking sedatives, because it turned out they don't need them anymore. They learned to move around town independently, do shopping, prepare meals, make friends with neighbors and live together in the small family community.
After some time, their needs were also revealed. An artistic workshop was established, where for 5 hours a day, Monday to Friday, they work, creating paintings, tapestries and useful objects. Everything that emerges is their idea, project, improvisation. Mere duplicating patterns is forbidden.
Everything they do is to foster their development; concentration, focus, imagination, learning how to cooperate, learning and developing their workshop, as well as mental, intellectual and spiritual development, since the workshop - apart from work with new forms of art - is also a class on how to be oneself, joint creation of the atmosphere of the place, there is time for discussions, difficult questions, contacts with people from the outside, who visit our gallery, which is always open at our art studio.
The programme, carried out for as long as 18 years now, is primarily an experience its participants, allowing the discovery of the real needs of intellectually challenged persons, exploring in practice their developmental and creative possibilities, their sensitivity, sense of humor, the ability to understand and correctly associate subtexts. The "House on the Estate" is four flats in different parts of Lodz (one of them owned by the organization, bought by PFRON - The State Fund for Disabled Persons' Rehabilitation - for the purpose of the project, others given by the City Council to the Charges in exchange for the flats they inherited after their parents). In two of them, our charges live (there are currently nine of them) and in two others there is the art studio In one of those, one of our charges lives on her own, with some assistance. All flats constitute the institution known as "House on the Estate" and are mentioned in the Decision of Lodz Voivod, similarly to the author's programme carried out in the institution, officially approved in 2003.
"House on the Estate" was established in opposition to the Social Aid houses of permanent residence, in 1993, as an innovative individual project. It has never been a house of permanent residence. However, since 2001 this very status was given to it by the Voivod. This year, within the confines of the final stage of the Programme realization, a project was filed to the President of the City of Lodz, of complete transformation of the "House on the Estate"into sheltered flats, the occurrence of which would be in all respects beneficial to the city of Lodz, due to the lack of any alternative for houses of permanent residence, already overcrowded. In response, we received a positive opinion, however, allegedly due to the lack of resources, the programme cannot be carried out. Throughout all the past years, the "House on the Estate" was financed from Kuratorium Oświaty (Board of Education), Wojewódzki Zespół Pomocy Społecznej (the district Social Aid unit), Wydział Edukacji UMŁ (The Department of Education of the City Council), MOPS (THE City Social Aid Centre). Currently, the financing institution is PFRON (The State Fund for Disabled Persons' Rehabilitation).