Children and adults with mental disabilities on the road to vacation thanks to the Éclaireuses Éclaireurs de France d’Orléans

On this last morning of July, it is a Sunday battle in the parking lot of the Stade de la Vallée, in Fleury-les-Aubrais. Parked everywhere, buses; scattered here and there, baggage; somewhat bewildered, sometimes, the owners of said baggage; finally, swirling between all that, members of the Orléans team of Les Éclaireuses Éclaireurs de France.

The Orleans branch of this secular movement, affiliated to the Fédération du scoutisme français, has been organizing for nearly fifty years stays for young people and adults with mental disabilitieswith varying degrees of autonomy.

These last are registered by their families, or by medico-social establishments with which the association is accustomed to working. More than 400 holidaymakers suffering from a mental handicap thus take the road of holidays on this Sunday, a big organizational challenge each time for the structure.

« This requires nearly 200 directors and animators, who must be recruited… and today, recruiting in the animation professions is complicated », underlines the director of operations of Les Éclaireuses Éclaireurs de France, Jean Amand Declerck. « We have succeeded in finding accommodation, teams to hold the stays. »

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Diversified stays

To drive it all, a small team of six permanent employees, and around ten volunteers as backup. The stays range from one week to three weeks… and go more or less far. The most autonomous people thus left this Sunday for Croatia; others, more dependent, have on the contrary embarked for local stays, less than a hundred kilometers away; and there are intermediate journeys, more oriented towards the Atlantic seaboard.

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The formulas have been refined and diversified over the years, according to demand. « We try to understand the needs of holidaymakers, but also of families. For them too, this period is a relief, a time of respite », points out Jean Amand Declerck.

What we are doing corresponds to a social need, for people with disabilities who are entitled to holidays, for families, and for establishments, which are closing during this period.

With the two other holiday services of the movement (Caen and Chalon-sur-Saône) which offer this type of stay in France, these are 1,200 people who go on holiday thanks to Les Éclaireuses Éclaireurs de France This year.

Dimitri Crozet

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