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A new place for mentally vulnerable young people to grow: “The spark must be created here to rediscover their talents” (Boechout)

A new place for mentally vulnerable young people to grow: “The spark must be created here to rediscover their talents” (Boechout)

Yannic Verlinden and Hans Dockx at the conservatory where various workshops will be held. © Philip Spoilers

Boechout, Vremde

In the Boechout sub-community of Vremde, a new respite is being set up for young people aged 15-23 who are going through a stressful period. At Vonk in Sint-Bernardsstraat they want to work around the talents of young people.

Philip Spoilers

Vonk grew out of an idea by Yannic Verlinden and Olivier Taveirne. A few years ago, the couple bought a former farm with plenty of space. “Our daughter herself went through a very difficult period. There were times when she could not get up from the seat. We called for help but kept looking at the queues. In the end, we ended up in Ukja in Antwerp where she was well received by a team of young people who were In the same situation. Then we started to think that there should also be a place in the neighborhood where stuck young people are given the space and time to find the right path again without pressure,” says Yannick.

Funk is still working hard to put everything in order.

Funk is still working hard to put everything in order. © RR

Since Yannic and Olivier had enough space after moving in, they wanted to create such a place themselves. Through their own experiences, they connected with youth worker Hans Ducx, clinical educator and clinical therapist Ferrel Mullins and music therapist Wendy Fratour. They make up the team that will welcome the youth from April.

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“In today’s society, young people have little opportunity to stop. There is always pressure on them to perform and make decisions. At Vonk, we will discover together what young people are good at and where they feel good. We focus not on problems, but on talents to spark them to continue,” Hans explains.

carpentry and music

The program will consist of a group of up to six young people who will come to Funk for two weeks to do different activities. “We put together a daytime activity with workshops on, for example, woodworking, ceramics, gardening, music or walking with donkeys. When a young man is unable to participate, he can relax, think or read a book in one of the seating areas. Our team will be friendly At any time, but it is also possible to have a discussion session while weeding the vegetable garden or while walking. In the afternoon we will cook with the little ones.”

The workshops will be very diverse.

The workshops will be very diverse. © RR

The two-week period was deliberately chosen. We know that not all issues may be resolved after two weeks. But we give them the right tools to take their lives back into their own hands. Two weeks means they have to take the initiative to take more steps. Of course this happens without pressure and they are always welcome after this period”, point out Hans and Jannick.

The team is currently looking for partners to support the process, for volunteers and creatives who would like to offer other workshops in addition to the studios.

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walking experience

The perfect time to find out how Vonk works is Saturday. Then he organizes a demo tour of the site. Anyone interested in going on a trip must pre-register Sign Up. This will be followed by an opening day in March so the first guys can go there in April.