New EQ Project with Leadership Experts Group and Barclay’s Kicks Off at Foster Care Center in Lithuania

Barclays Group Operations Limited – Lithuania and Six Seconds Preferred Partner Leadership Experts Group are Teaming Up for 11 month project using SEI Assessments and EQ Training

By Gailė Vinciūnaitė and Nomeda Marazienė

Being a youth in foster care is a difficult life full of changes and adjustments to new adults and new living arrangements. Emotional intelligence can help children and the adults around them to navigate these changes better. Six Seconds’ ally, Leadership Experts Group, has partnered with Barclays Group Operations Limited – Lithuania to bring EQ training to the Foster Care and Social Family Support Centre in Didziasalis, a tiny town on the border of Lithuania and Belarus. The project, which began last month, will run through December of 2016.

Adorable thoughtful toddler girl with Lithuanian flag

The goals of the project are to establish a value and trust-based communication in the Centre. The project aims to strengthen the children’s confidence and self-respect, teach them time management competences, encourage them to seek further education, as well as give them the knowledge and skills required for self-management in stress and conflict situations. The project involves interactive exercises and activities that are designed to encourage children to set personal goals and take responsibility for their actions. It will be a success if they take interest in global events, feel empowered to strive, and believe that they can be self-sustaining and independent Lithuanian citizens.

The Didziasalis foster care home is a safe haven for the local children. Its inhabitants come there from high social risk families. Some of the children are brought in by social workers, some – literally come to the foster care home by themselves after having fled their insecure homes and families. Parents of these families can barely provide not only basic food or clothing but often a safe environment to grow in as well. The background of these children and their life stories are often quite the same – drinking parents, debauchery at home, abuse and violence. All of this sounds awful and we hate to confess there is very little we can do to affect high social risk families. However we believe that we can save the children. By consistently showing them love and caring attention, educating them of primary human feeling and emotional intelligence, we are steering their lives into brighter tomorrow.

Barclays Group Operations Limited Lithuania is supporting this initiative financially and with volunteers. They have partnered with Didziasalis Social Care center for 5 years now and wanted to provide them with meaningful assistance towards their future education and career. Barclay’s believes that Emotional Intelligence trainings help to achieve these goals. BGOL employees are also taking part in this project by co-creating practical assignments for kids and spending time with them, acting as role models.

World surrounded by kidsLaunching the Project

The first step of the project included the EQ (emotional intelligence) competencies measurement for teachers and children. The goal was to get a snapshot of their EQ level at the starting position. To achieve the goal the standardized and validated tests created by Six Seconds were used.

To evaluate the guidelines for EQ competencies training among children, the EQ group report was generated. The same procedure will be repeated at the end of the project to evaluate progress.

First, the adults took a training course. On January 12-13th, 2016, a two-day training course (‘EQ: personal and interpersonal leadership’) for the educators of the children took place in Didziasalis Foster Care and Social Family Support Centre.

“Nomeda charmed us with her positive attitude, her ability to guide the group, and persuasiveness. The time flew by and all we wanted was to stay longer and listen.The trainings were very useful as they helped me to better understand my colleagues and accept them as they are.During the two-day trainings we learned a lot – now we need to apply it in our daily lives, and that is difficult, but not impossible. We are looking forward to our future meetings.” – Audrone Petroviene, Didziasalis Foster Care and Social Family Support Centre, Assistant Manager for Social Work

Then it was the children’s turn. On January 30th, the partners, Leadership Experts’ Group and BGOL, presented an EQ event for the children at Didziasalis Foster Care and Social Family Support Centre.. Around 30 children, ages 8 to 17, participated in a 4-hour event that was put together with a help of 5 volunteers from BGOL. The event was later extended because of the children’s initiative and involvement. During the trainings, the children took part in 10 different activities that sent the following messages:

  • We work together – we have to help each other.
  • We never say ‘no’ without trying first.
  • We are honest and we do not tolerate cheating.
  • Believe in yourself, don’t give into bad influences, move forward and you will succeed!

The guests gave the children a day full of excitement. The day was not only fun, but also very useful as they taught the sense of community, teamwork, responsibility, confidence in self and others. The children shared their experiences:

“I liked climbing up the rope and other activities.” “The training was great.”  “I really liked taking sweets with our eyes closed and guiding each other without seeing.” 

What is ahead:

  • Watching the movie ‘Whiplash’ and discussing it – with Barclay’s Bank employees.
  • 4 training session for the careers about Emotional intelligence skills, social emotional learning process for teaching these skills and creating a great place to learn.
  • Training session for the childern “Formulating and setting goals”, Didžiasalis Foster Care Center and VDG (Vytauto Didžiojo Gymnasium) basketball game, Meaningful initiatives (helping in nursing homes, helping lonely disabled people, cleaning up the surroundings, etc.), Training session “How to introduce one’s self? Work interview. How does one look for a job?”, “Communication for mutual value. Standards of effective communication”, “Project: 2050 – a short history of the future (the children’s views on current world events)”, Training session “Stress and Emotion Management, A trip around the town surroundings organised by Didžiasalis Foster Care Center children for Barclays employees, training session “Time management. Identifying priorities. Personal efficiency”.
  • A visit to Barclays office in Vilnius.
  • Project: ‘My Aha! Story’ (Barclays’ employees and the children and the educators from the Foster Care Center share an episode of their lives that created a point of change in their thinking or was emotionally important, or strengthened and taught them something)

Finally, we will test the children’s EQ after the project. As the year wraps up, a clear picture for whether this project was a success will surely emerge and guide other organizations that seek to emulate it in their own communities.

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