PH International

SMILE Project in Vanadzor Community Justice Center

Armenia | ZANG Armenian Legal Socialization Project | 17 Sep 2009

During the Project Final Event

In June 2009 Lilit Matsakyan, ECA alumni, and Davit Martirosyan, Restorative Board member in Vanadzor Community Justice Center (CJC) of the ZANG Armenian Legal Socialization program jointly applied to a mini SMILE project grant announced by IREX. They were awarded with $244 to implement a project called Helping Youth for Better Communities which aimed at reinforcing healthy and mutually caring relationships between youth at risk and socially more protected youth groups of the community.

The project organizers recruited from Vanadzor School #3, its neighboring schools and from the local Day Care Center 7 socially active students aged 13-15, and partnered them with 7 other youth of similar age, registered in the CJC for their delinquent behavior and undergoing their restorative programming. The project created for all 14 students an opportunity to attend a 7-day clay course, offered by a local clay specialist who is also a community volunteer serving on the CJC Board. The SMILE project beneficiaries learnt how to work with clay and under the guidance of the trainer prepared small clay figures. The Project’s final event was arranged on Sept. 09, 2009. The SMILE project organizers facilitated for the 14 participants a visit to Vanadzor kindergarten # 35. The participants attended the kinder garden event wearing their SMILE project T-shirts provided to them by the project administrators. The kinder garden staff organized a wonderful small party with the children dancing and singing for Project SMILE participants who later presented them with the clay products (toys, cups, etc.) they created – the kids accepted the presents with great enthusiasm and joy. After the end of the event the SMILE project participants were awarded with certificates of successful project participation. After the kinder garden event most of the participant youth mentioned that they would like to continue their attendance to the clay workshop and some mentioned the kindergarten kid’s enthusiasm encouraged them to be in touch with those kids on regular basis and serve them as older assistants in different matters.