This page offers an English summary of the goals and activities of Užitečný život. We are sorry but we are not able to maintain pages of this web bilingual. If you have any questions, please contact us by e-mail uzivot(at)uzitecny-zivot.cz.
Who are we?
Užitečný život (Worthwhile Life), founded in 1991, is a non-profit non-governmental organization promoting personal development of young people with and without physical disability. We organize
* experiential courses open to people with disabilities * weekend trips towards culture, nature and well-being in mixed groups of people with and without disabilities * integrated sport and touristic events * independent travelling * tailor-made courses for other NGOs
Užitečný život organizes leisure activities for people usually 18 to 40 years old, with some exceptions in both directions. All activities are open to members and non-members of the organization, and people with and without physical disability. We operate in the Czech Republic and have never organized an international project.
The main difference between us and most of the other organizations aimed at people with disabilities is that our primary goal is not to help the disabled people to get somewhere or do something or to integrate them into the majority. We believe instead that integration is a bidirectional process which includes crossing the physical and psychological barriers between the disabled people and the majority from both sides. At our courses, trips and other events we thus do not distinguish between those who need help and those who offer it. The participants just form a self-sufficient group where mutual help and tolerance becomes a standard and where each member has something with which he can enrich others. Any handicap of any individual turns into a problem of the whole group which has to solve it. People learn that this way many more barriers are possible to be overcome. People with disabilities can try many activities that are normally not accessible to them, moreover these activities are not organized for them with able-bodied assistants standing by, but they are just open to them and able-bodied participants take part on the same level. The advantage of this approach is that it leads to natural friendly atmosphere within the group and helps all of the participants to a comparison of themselves with a wider range of people with a very diverse life experience, which is an impulse for their personal development.
„Rafting“ – three- or four-days voyages with a paddle-driven canoes or rafts along a river (a calm one, no whitewater), sleeping in tents. Once a year.
„Back to the Nature“ – weekend trips into less known yet beautiful regions of the Czech Republic, filled with walks and treks in the contryside. Usually 4–5 weekends a year.
„One Wheel More“ – a trip with bycicles, tricycles, pedicabs and other human powered vehicles. Once a year in summer.
„Orienteering“ – a weekend where participants learn how to use a map and a compass and take part in a team orienteering competition.
„Touches of the Sea“ – a week's sailing with a yacht along the Croatian coast. The participants form the crew of the yacht and learn from a skilled captain all what they need to command the ship.
„Horses' Opera“ – a week's trek along the countryside in the horse's saddle and with a waggon.
„Legation“ – an indepentent car trip along Europe – until now we have visited Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Denmark.
„Arbor Vitae“, „The Winter Snake“, „The Garden of Colours“, „The Real Fairytale“ – experiential courses open to people with disabilities.
Experiential education in Czech Republic has a long history and a special nature. Its components are initiative games (dynamics), teambuilding activities, strategic games, communication and social skills training, outdoor activities, rope courses, global and environmental education, but it also receives impulses from theatre and art in general. Experiential courses in the Czech context are stays lasting usually from one to three weeks, where the organizers offer the participants an elaborate non-stop program with the use of a certain dramaturgy Návraty and a big role of surprise. The participants usually do not know each other before the course and even the detailed programme of the course is secret. The courses are not bound to some particular ideology or religion, they are aimed at offering various kinds of challenge, opening questions and communication about them, discovering sleeping talents in people, offering them a harmonic blend of activities that they do not usually do – unusual sports and games, role-playing and acting, creation and inventing, mystery and contemplation, testing and improving their various qualities – readiness and endurance, teamwork and self-assertiveness.
The experiential courses differ according to their dramaturgy, lenght, season. Integration of people with and without disabilities is an important factor influencing the dramaturgy. Since 1998 we prepare each year a two-weeks' summer experiential course „Arbor Vitae“ which is a kind of a flagship among our projects. In 2002 the first „Winter Snake“ took place, which was a real challenge, since the winter is very hostile to people with motion disabilities and severely limits the scope of outdoor activities available. In February 2005 it will take place for the third time.
„Green“, „The Reviewing Weekend“ – these are our experiential seminars on various aspects of experiential education aimed at offering our experience to other people, teachers and instructors of other organizations involved in experiential education. „Green“ has a subtitle „How to create a game“ – its participants are taught how to prepare a game that is not a mere entertainment but allows people to gain experience from itself. The participants also create new games inspired by films, which visualises the link between dramaturgy and experiential education and promotes a flexible and creative approach to both. We call Green „an experiential course squared“, since it has a structure of an experiential course itself. „The Reviewing Weekend“ is a training of an important skill of an instructor – managing a review, a group discussion that allows the participants of some activity to verbalize and reflect the events that occured during the game and share experience. It also teaches about other ways how to reflect an experience, including various projective, performative and visual techniques.