We enter the final stretch of Rise for Impact training period and invite the 10 participants to take a look back at their journey so far. Then, on December 16th, we will meet the three finalists of the program who will enter the incubation phase, which will lead them to the final prize, in an event not to be missed (more information soon on Casa do Impacto’s Facebook)!
In today’s interview, you will learn about Semear Cerâmica, a project designed within Semear Academia’s scope to develop social, personal and professional skills for young people and adults with intellectual disabilities.
How did the idea of creating Semear Cerâmica come about? And how is it connected with Semear Academia?
It arose somewhat because all other projects in Semear – Terra de Oportunidades (Sow – Land of Oportunities) program appeared. BIPP, as the promoting association of the Semear program, was created by Joana Santiago, its Program Director and President. It aimed to generate answers that until then did not exist or were quality insufficient for people with intellectual and developmental difficulties (DID – Intellectual and Developmental Disability) – the primary target audience of the Semear program. The motivation for working with this specific target audience began with a personal encouragement from Joana herself, who wanted to see her child growing up with adequate answers to his needs, that would enable him to have a better future.
To date, this program encompassed 3 projects. First, Semear Academia (Academy) promotes this same audience’s training and socio-professional inclusion. Then two other social businesses – Semear Mercearia and Semear Terra – in which these people participate as employees and simultaneously constitute spaces for practical training in the actual context of Semear Academia.
However, the area in which Semear Academia provided training (agrifood area, namely food industry, storage and agricultural production) is an area that suits the profile of people with mild to moderate due to its characteristics and functions IDD. Still, it is a very complex area to profile people with moderate to severe IDD. And for the latter, the few existing responses were the Occupational Activity Centers (CAOs), which have precisely the purpose of occupying these people’s time with activities but fail to promote their active participation in society or the labour market.
Therefore, Semear still did not answer young people and adults with a more severe IDD profile. And, again, starting from Joana identifying this need herself with other parents who also wanted to include their children in a response that gave them a greater purpose than simple occupation prompted the idea of initiating professional training adapted to their needs. This area of professional specialization would go through ceramics, as it had a more artistic component that could enhance their skills. After a year of this pilot training, it was found that these young people effectively created pieces that would have significant market value. This professional area could be the answer we were looking for to integrate these young people.
How did you find out about Rise for Impact? What drove you to participate?
BIPP, as an institution that actively works for social impact, has been attentive to Casa do Impacto’s work. Therefore, we learned through program dissemination, which, in turn, came at a critical time when the idea of the project was beginning to gain traction. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to push this idea forward, and Rise for Impact would enable us to do just that!
What is it, how does it work, and who is Semear Cerâmica target?
I ended up explaining a little in the first question. Still, Semear Cerâmica is a business of production and sale of handcrafted ceramic pieces, produced by artisans (who, at this moment, are still in training) with intellectual and development difficulties (DID). Currently, these trainees are trained in ceramics two days a week, and on the rest, they work and develop other equally important skills, such as personal, social and cognitive skills. At the end of this training course, the objective is to integrate them as employees of this business in a protected employment regime, in which they can continue to have the technical support they need. As such, Semear Cerâmica aims at contributing to their personal and professional future; as a business to all people invested in these types of causes and want to contribute to a fairer and more equitable society world.
What stage are in it now?
Right now, we’re still in the creation phase but very close to the release phase!
From your previous experience with courses similar to ceramics, what is the feedback from the young participants?
More than the training itself, they are finally happy to be integrated into a job like anyone else. They are young people and adults who often do more than professional training, but without the support they need, it is difficult to find or keep a job. They want to have the same opportunities as other young people and adults their age.