Young Helpers project supports and empowers children who are facing specific challenges of disability in the family. These children – Young Helpers – are provided with individual support and counseling as well as group support. The project also deals with advocacy aimed at formal recognition of Young Helpers in the social care system.
In Croatia, children living with family members who have disabilities or severe illnesses often do not receive enough support. These children perform additional tasks at home to help their parents or siblings cope with living challenges. Because of these responsibilities, they have less time to focus on their own development. Currently, the social care system in Croatia does not recognize these children as a separate group with unique needs. When they do not receive additional support, it has been shown that they often accumulate stress factors from their living situation, which pose risks as they mature into adults.
Veronika, who herself is a mother with disability, started the Young Helpers organization to provide counselling and support to these children. She organized a team of experts consisting of social workers, psychologists, and educators that could offer help. Apart from providing individual counselling, the Young Helpers association also facilitates peer-to-peer support and the exchange of experiences along with a number of social activities.