Konekt’s other programmes have also earned plaudits. The training to become a co-supervisor in preschool consists of 14 days of training and an internship for people with disabilities who are 18 or older and want to get to know and use their talents. They learn what it takes to work in a preschool, and they learn about the tasks that they would like to perform.
“What we heard from parents and from the participants themselves was that their lives changed completely” after completing this programme, Koen says. “It made us happy that we could do such a great thing in such a short period, but at the same time it’s quite sad because they go to school five days a week for more than 20 years before then. That’s why we started Brake-Out.”
Koen says the idea was to reach people with disabilities over a longer period of time — three years — to explore many possibilities for creating a fulfilling life. In Brake-Out, eight students get together twice a week over three years to work with instructors and other participants in a variety of fields, in themes like housing, relationships, leisure, and work.
Participants try many different activities, including volunteer work, group projects, even things like animal care, or creating and performing music. Brake-Out has ongoing trainings in Ghent, Leuven, Antwerp, Bruges and Brussels.
Life with a purpose
For Glorian, it has been an eye-opening journey. “I like the most that we learn to do things we never did before, so we can discover some new things,” he says.
Glorian and his father keep bees, and one thing he learned in Brake-Out, he says, is that he can help others overcome their fear of bees and other animals. He’s also excited about pursuing his music, working under the name DJ the Wolf Master.
“I discovered that I’m a very good writer, so I’m writing my own songs and I’m writing them better now,” he says.
Although Glorian’s native language is Flemish, the song he posted on YouTube is in French and English.
“I’m a DJ, but I’m not doing it for money,” he says. “It’s a hobby. And my type of writing is that I want to get to very important questions or put light on things that are not often talked about.”
Society tends to protect and care for people with disabilities, Koen says, but this isn’t the most important thing that disabled people want.
“Everyone wants to be meaningful to another person or to this world,” he says. “This is no different for people with a disability. So let's stop with setting too low of expectations for them. Give people the chance to learn, to grow and to develop their full potential so that they, too, can take a visible, meaningful role in society.”