Taking into account the scope of the Projeto Rua, it has been determined that its target group is very diverse. However, aware of our role and purpose, we emphasize that the main target group are children, from 0-18 years, and their families.
However, we must not neglect the other groups that appear at various levels throughout our work, with whom we share our experience and intervention strategies.
They are all those who come to us (students from different areas and countries) to obtain information about our project and where we privilege direct and personalized contact.
We direct our action to children and families, supporting them in their social environment, intervening in an integrated way in communities with adverse contexts, namely in the city of Lisbon. We speak of multiproblem families characterized by low self-esteem with little ability to evaluate and invest in their potentialities. They are marked by uncertainty and instability, living on support/subsidies and, still, manifesting difficulty in investing in the education of their children.
We also speak of children and adolescents who are in a vulnerable situation conditioned by experiences that do not favour their healthy growth. The majority in school age whose course is characterized by absenteeism, successive retentions, poor participation in activities of curricular enrichment and early school leaving.
We also refer to the accompaniment of adolescents who daily make the street their space of survival and learning. They present deviant behaviors, difficulties in accepting/complying with rules, due to the lack of discipline in their daily life that leads them to enter the judicial system (marginal paths and disruptive behaviors).
Generally, they come from all over the metropolitan area of Lisbon, being diagnosed by the team or flagged by other entities.
We refer to all those who, for reasons inherent in their own life history, have not had the opportunity to learn how to live with family, and their suffering is mirrored in the only language they know: violence, theft and consumption.
Today, in the 21st Century, there are many efforts made worldwide to reverse the situation in which these children and young people live. This is what the IAC – Projeto Rua has been doing over the past 28 years, with increasing importance given to the Rights of the Child and with increased effort for these to be fulfilled, in order to provide a complete emotional, social, community and educational accompaniment.
Youth Development and Inclusion Center
Intervene in emergency situations in the face of missing and/or sexually exploited adolescents and young people with a particular focus on those who are on the run.
Center for Education and Training
Promote the development of personal/social skills and the acquisition of knowledge in the school/professional area for a constant group of 45 young people.
Strengthen the theoretical-practical knowledge of social actors and promote the transferability of methodologies on the problems of these young people.
Centre for Community Support
Prevent situations of children at risk in 3 communities with adverse contexts.
Prevent risky behaviour in 3 schools of the communities involved.
The Project “Street Work with Children at Risk or Marginality” started on 16 October 1989 under the EEC’s Third Programme to Combat Poverty, which aimed at the economic and social integration of disadvantaged groups. It was the only project approved for Portugal as an innovative initiative and of which Adelina Odete Marques was an enthusiastic co-author. It appeared in the city of Lisbon, specifically in the downtown area, to intervene with children who wandered and slept in the street, on the subway grills, being “exposed” the intervention of other services.
We can identify four phases in the structuring of the Projeto Rua, taking into account both the dynamics generated, the strategies and methodologies employed, and the actors involved.
The Street Project sought to address the situation of marginality of children in the street context, opening the way for their integration into the family and community and developed its activity around six subsystems that interact with the child throughout the intervention process (the homeless child, the family, the fleeing community, the community of residence, the intervention team and the support network).
In this first phase, some practices have been implemented. For the first time in Portugal, we had Animadores de Rua (street animators) who went to meet the child (day and night shifts), and through a personalized relationship of affection and companionship, sought to discover new values and frameworks for the construction of a new Life Project.
Equally important in this period was the Escola da Rua – Clube Tejo (“Street School – the Tagus Club”) – action developed with the support of the Ministry of Education that highlighted teachers who were part of the street teams. The objective was to make a privileged contact with the child/youth, meeting the reality (street life), so that they could catch up with school contents and thus motivate them to their reintegration into school.
For those where school was no longer an option, we highlight the importance of the Horizon Programme, which enabled the Professional Training of young people and families, contributing to integration into the labour market.
As a temporary response for the children who wanted to leave the street, but the conditions were not met to return immediately to the family, the Transitional Residence was created.
It was in this first phase that the nature of the activities that were continuously used in the later phases was outlined, both as a way to consolidate the relationship, to provide moments of conviviality, and as a means to develop skills.
As a result of this intervention, the situation of street children in Lisbon changed: more than 600 children left the street, having returned to the family or institutions from which they had fled.