The core mission of Children of the Station is to support the safe growth of children and youth, enable the well-being of them and their families and inhibit social exclusion. The guiding forces of the organization are openness, humanity and presence. A central purpose is to increase the presence of adults in the daily life of children and youth.
Children of the Station strives to react promptly to any changes taking place in the lives of youth. Our operations require the formation of active partnerships, sometimes with surprising collaborators. One basis of our operations is that substance abuse, violent behavior and crime are symptoms which require swift adult attention.
The organization employs forty professionals from the fields of youth work and social services. The work includes the teaching of emotional- and interaction skills, intervention in cases of school bullying, the encountering of youth in public spaces, mediation, support in cases of escalating criminal behavior and walking alongside our youth during challenging times and circumstances.
Children of the Station is a politically and religiously unaffiliated national organization established in 1990.
The Walkers concept provides youth with safe environments wherein volunteer adults work in conjunction with professionals. In addition to fixed spaces such as youth cafes, a Walkers bus operates in the metropolitan area of Helsinki and five Walkers camper vans operate in variable areas elsewhere across the nation.
Children of the Station acts as the national background organization for all Walkers’. The organization maintains Walkers Helsinki youth cafe (Urho Kekkosen katu, Kamppi) and the Walkers in the metropolitan area of Helsinki. The other Walkers meeting places and Walkers camper vans are operated and maintained by local authorities such as the local council, congregation or a third sector facet. The number of fixed participants will increase from eight to eleven during the spring of 2021 when operations will begin in the cities of Kuopio, Lahti and Savonlinna.
The Friends program aims to enhance personal well-being by strengthening emotional- and interaction skills and by promoting daily survival skills. Based on a cognitive-behavioral framework and systematic progression, the program helps participants to recognize and address emotions, utilize positive paradigms and learn new means of handling stressful or daunting situations. Studies show that the program is effective in the prevention of anxiety and depression.
The Friends program is a beneficial tool in day care centers, schools and youth work, as well as for group- and individual work in the healthcare sector. The program is divided into age groups: Fun Friends 4-8 yrs old, Friends for Kids 9-12 yrs old, Friends for Youth 13-16 yrs old and Friends for Adults for persons above the age of 16 and parents as a whole. The use of the program requires that specific instructor training has been completed.
Programs such as street mediation, the B-Stop anti-bullying project as well as Project Pasila and Project Ripa, focusing on the prevention of escalating spirals of crime, all seek to resolve situations and tensions among underaged youth that have accumulated over time. These are operated in cooperation with the police, mediation services and schools.
In street mediation all parties to a conflict are offered the option of settling an issue with the help of an outside mediator. The mediators are professionals in education, youth work, social services and similar areas. They have the ability to recognize and adapt to the idiosyncrasies involved in youth mediation. Street mediation can be helpful for the suspects, as well as victims, of crime. The objective is to offer helpful means for the youth to move forward and provide an opportunity to take responsibility for their actions. The guardians of those involved are included early on in the process and offered continued support even after the actual mediation work has concluded.
B-Stop aims to intervene in challenging cases of persistent school bullying. The objective is, for example, to raise the level of mediation and family work expertise available in schools. The core grounds of a conflict are sought out through joint, as well as separate, meetings and discourse with the involved parties. The B-Stop instructors work closely with local operatives, offering their expertise as well as initial co-working relationships. B-Stop is currently active in the cities of Helsinki, Lohja, Järvenpää and Rovaniemi.
Project Pasila works with youth involved in serious or recurring criminal activity. The operatives walk alongside the youth and support them through their professional and familial networks. The objective is to support the youth in different aspects of daily life and strive to terminate escalating spirals of crime. The work involves intensive open work such as offering assistance with schoolwork, helping with employment and housing issues or simply offering an ear and shoulder in relationship or family troubles. The operatives may also attend legal proceedings or visit youths at pretrial detention. The work is long-term, often spanning a number of years.
A research project, launched in 2021, called ’Out of the Services Labyrinth’ powered by a vast group of specialists, aims to study the state of available services to date and explore targets for development, in order to improve existing service structures, so that they may better suit the needs and challenges of criminally symptomatic youth.
The Project Ripa prevents the deepening of crime and substance abuse in youth, by combining the understanding of trained experts by experience with conventional youth work. Trained experts by experience (criminal and substance-abuse background) are working together with educational professionals (youth work) in different fields. The objective is to find new ways to tackle repeated criminal and substance abuse behavior in the youth and to strengthen and maintain their motivation for change.
The safe leisure time of youth in public spaces is supported by discovery method youth work, which comprises of street level encounters and cross-sectoral cooperation. Affirmative encounters with youth provide them with safe support in their recreational endeavors. Their activities are monitored and assessed on a case by case basis. The objective is to promote means of recreation which do not cause concern or disturb the general public.
In cooperation with security personnel and the police, youth activities can be interrupted by guiding them towards safer environments and activities. Guardians and local authorities may also be notified when necessary. Youth showing signs of symptomatic violence or other troubling behavior can be guided through small group work, in cooperation with other facets such as youth work operatives provided by the local council.
Discovery method youth work is currently in effect in the metropolitan area of Helsinki. In addition, similar operations have been rooted in the cities of Jyväskylä, Oulu, Tampere and Kuopio.
Project Nexus, established in 2021, will continue the development work initiated by Project 3T during the years 2018-2020. The project aspires to make guidance and support services more accessible to youth in danger of social exclusion.
The Walkers bus, discovery method youth work, street mediation, Project Pasila and B-Stop operations are funded by STEA, the Funding Centre for Social Welfare and Health Organizations. The two-year research project, Out of the Services Labyrinth, is funded by Kone Foundation.
The Finnish language Friends program is funded, among others, by STEA, the Päivi and Sakari Sohlberg Foundation, as well as through private donations. The Swedish language Friends program is funded, among others, by the Stiftelsen Brita Maria Renlunds minne and the Svenska kulturfonden (foundations operating in Finland).
The operations of Walkers Helsinki are funded by the Helsinki Social Services and Healthcare Board, the Jenny and Antti Wihuri trust, as well as Sinebrychoff Ltd.
The project developing national mobile youth work, Walkers on Wheels 2, is operated through specialty aid from the Ministry of Education and Culture, as well as through support from Sinebrychoff Ltd and the Eevi and Emil Tanninen Foundation. Walkers camper vans operating in bilingual areas are funded by Stiftelsen Brita Maria Renlunds minne.
The national Walkers operations are funded through general aid from the Ministry of Education and Culture as well as Sinebrychoff Ltd.
Project Nexus is funded by the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland.
The organization also receives donations from private individuals, corporations and other facets, which are essential for the continued maintenance of all operations. Read more about donating here (in Finnish) >>
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