Visit to Finland in May 2024

Visit to Finland in May 2024

After an earlier short visit to mark 50 years of curative education in Finland in the cold and dark November time in 2022, Bart Vanmechelen was now able to tour Finnish curative education schools and social therapeutic communities in the full light of summer time 2024 at the invitation of Finnish colleagues.

The trip began in Lahti with a festive Pentecost celebration in the Sylvia-koulu school at the Sylvia-koti community. Bart contributed with a talk about courage and confidence in jointly realizing our ideals for inclusive social development. At his invitation, listeners also talked about the encounter or social context in which their enthusiasm for therapeutic education or social therapy had been awakened. A particularly moving moment was when Hans Hasler, the first secretary of the Curative Education and Social Therapy Council, who was also present, shared his experience and Bart was able to integrate this into his story about the past and future of our movement.
Nina and Anja, our two delegates for Finland introduced to Bart the new colleague Jennifer, who will take Anja’s place in the Council.
In the evening we drove about 30 kilometers through forests and fields to pay a quick visit to the Myllylähde social therapy community where some former students of the school live and work on the large farm.

While touring the recently inaugurated school building of the Sylvia school the next day, Bart was also able to attend the rehearsal of the choir performance for the closing of the school year as well as the dress rehearsal of the play “The Puss in Boots,” by the fifth grade students. The loving attention and artistic work forms were well experienced in the tour of the beautifully cared for classrooms.
After the shared meal in the Sylvia-koti community, the journey continued to the Tapola Camphill Village Community.
Special attention and initiatives were here to accommodate the aging residents in a new building with adequate infrastructure.
It was striking how in all these initiatives new houses are being built in accordance with the new standards for larger rooms with private bathrooms.
The new social therapy initiative Michael house we unfortunately could not visit because after the opening festivities everyone spent a few days off in their families.

Then the trip went to the capital Helsinki. Here we visited the Ristola Community. In this school and living community, young people with support needs from the age of 16 can receive craft training for 5 years and become prepared for adult life. Together with some students, we visited the cafeteria of the Helsinki City Social Services House, which has been run together with students from Ristola for 30 years. Because of the enthusiasm and their heartfelt service, this cafeteria is loved by the 100 social workers and visitors to this building.

And the circle was complete again with the visit to the Marjatta-koulu School, where Bart participated in a conversation about a new training program for staff in Estonia and Finland. Three colleagues from Estonia had come to Helsinki to prepare this joint initiative with the Marjatta School’s school management. Then Bart gave a talk for the teachers, parents and interested people about the 100th anniversary of the Course on ‘Education for Special Needs’ and the importance of Rudolf Steiner’s special insights and advice as a response to the questions of our time. Courage, confidence, appreciation and enthusiasm for the impulses that live in each of us for an inclusive social development were at the center of his lecture.
Finally, here too the festive conference at the Goetheanum in October with the founding of our new Section of the School of Spiritual Science was announced and everyone was cordially invited to get involved.