Ahrensbök is part of the district of Ostholstein. With 8,400 inhabitants .Due to its historical development it has been the economic center of a bigger rural area live in Ahrensbök.  The municipality is surrounded by forests and fields. The surrounding towns Eutin (in the north of Ahrensbök), the city of Lübeck (in the south) and the town of Bad Segeberg (in the west) are easily reachable by car within 15 minutes, as well as the municipality of Scharbeutz at the coast of the Baltic Sea.   

Ahrensbök is twinned with the following municipalities/towns: 

  • St. Savinien (France) (1991)
  • Grzmiaca/Gramenz (Poland) (1992)
  • Grevesmühlen (German State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern) (1990)

These national and international relations provide active cultural exchange between the municipalities. Still, those multicultural efforts of Ahrensbök have been successfully implemented, supported by the extraordinary work of the local associations for (inter-)national relations, other clubs, associations and societies as well as the local fire brigades that contribute to cultural understanding.  Ahrensbök was awarded the “Europadiplom”, in 1995, and the “Europafahne” (European flag), in 1998, both important steps of the “Europapreis” (i.e. Europe Prize, an award of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe). In this context the international effort about the European Union and the effort in cultural understanding of the municipality of Ahrensbök was honoured in an excellent way.

 

 

Best practice examples of inclusion:

 “Inclusion in the area of education”

 

The “Arnesboken-Schule” is an inclusive school, which means that all children/students are being educated in the same class (es), irrespective of their qualification or precondition. In our municipality the children/students are educated inclusively in the “Arnesboken-Schule” (Gemeinschaftsschule = comprehensive school), Haus für Jugend und Familie (after-school-care) and in the Kindergarten. In that way, the children are integrated in collective social life from nursery age on.

 

  • Projects in schools about the topic of inclusion, e.g. “Barrier-Free School” (IQSH)
  • Guided tours and workshops at “Dialog im Dunkeln” (=“Dialogue in the Dark“, a project to let sighted people feel the world of visually impaired people) / ”Dialog im Stillen” (=”Dialogue in Quietness”, …the same concept from the point of view of hearing impaired people)
  • Social behaviour/social conduct within school classes: “Learning Rules”

Our students are being taught that everybody is different, that these differences are enriching and that every student has his/her own weaknesses and strengths

Following the concept of inclusion, all students are educated within the same school classes.Consultations, arrangements and exchange of teacher colleagues with the specially trained colleagues for students with special needs are an important part of inclusion and of the concept of prevention (of behavior or learning problems)

The following studying techniques and choices for learning are offered in order to consider the different learning preconditions and the different individual paces of learning:

  • individual (interdisciplinary) work plans/routing for students
  • Teaching aids (e.g. card index, register boxes)

Social learning

 

The concept of inclusion is also connected to children with social and emotional difficulties. Support is being given by:

  •  School enrollment (with much positive ceremony) at grade/year 5 and grade/year 1, school festivals, sport festivals
  • Project weeks, class trips, “Lernen am anderen Ort” (i.e. the concept of learning at various places outside school, e.g. at museums, within visits of factories, by building/doing things together as a class in the forest, class trips etc.)
  • Compliance to class rules and school rules builds up mutual respect
  • Counselling of elementary school teachers by specially-trained teachers for students with special needs and by school social workers
  • Establishing the concept of “Trainingsraum” (=training room), which gives socially and/or emotionally challenged students the chance to have a timeout and to work outside the classroom with the help of the school social worker when the situation in a school lesson gets critical
  • Additional support
  • Extra support in reading and mathematics
  • German as a second language (=”DaZ”) for children whose mother-tongue is not German
  • Support LRS (=dyslexia)

 

The extent of the measures, listed above, depends on the human resources of the school teaching and supporting staff. In exceptional cases single support measures can be cancelled. However, the support for dyslexia and lessons of German as a second language will be given.

The “Arnesboken-Schule” is a school with full-day program, the after-school program being operated by the “Offene Ganztagsschule” where children can be taken care of from 7am to 5pm. Homework tutoring and various courses take place within the opening hours (beginning with lunch and continuing throughout the afternoon).

Support/assistance/methods at the secondary school level of the Arnesboken-Schule:

  •  Diversity/plurality of teaching methods
  • Team teaching or implementing a second teacher as support during school lessons
  • Parent-teacher conferences about each individual school report after the first school semester with every family
  • Cooperation with the specially trained teachers of the “Förderzentrum” for students with special needs
  • Individual “Lernplan” (i.e. individual task plan) to support students whose school career or school certificate is at risk (and for students with special needs a special verification/check)
  • Social-pedagogic support
  • Class lesson with the class teacher (without a curriculum related to a special subject)
  • Regular training in learning methods
  • Intensive vocational preparation (i.e. training for the world of work)
  • Cooperation with local companies and businesses, other schools, Ausbildungszentrum (i.e. the local educational center for manual work, e.g. for the building industry)

 

Which projects, experience or institutions have impressed you during the In-Town Project

 

Grevesmühlen:

  • Visit of the “Behindertenwerkstatt” (i.e. workshop/center for mentally/physically challenged people, or: workshop for people with disabilities/sheltered workshop)

Nagymaros/Hungary:

  •  The meeting with the winner of the Paralympics Gold Medal in swimming 2009 was very impressive and inspiring.
  • The concept of hippotherapy (=equine-assisted therapy) was very appealing and awesome, too, especially the presentation of the children and teenagers. Furthermore, the visit to the school with children of all age groups and diverse disabilities was very emotive and overwhelming.

 Laxa/Sweden:

  •  Visit to the site/centre for apprenticeships and education – especially the idea about apprenticeships for teenagers with cognitive and physical disabilities in a municipal cafeteria, integrated in a shopping centre
  • Classrooms appropriate for children in an elementary school, with a small kitchen
  • The low number of pupils/students per class
  • The riding stable with barrier-free mount onto the horses
  • Car-racing track with re-constructed vehicles for physically disabled people

 

Loures/Portugal:

  • Inclusive elementary school, appropriate for children, in Lissabon, with its affectionately furnished library with lounge and refugium
  • Final ceremony with the overwhelming piano concert of a Hungarian, visually impaired boy, with the Portugese inclusive children’s choir and the orchestras from Grevesmühlen and Portugal

Emphasized as very special and positive:

All In-Town encounters and meetings, the lovely, friendly and open atmosphere of all participants and the very positive contact with each other

  • The very special hospitality of the various countries
  • The fun in playing music together
  • The elaborate planning of activities and workshops
  • Getting to know the immense diversity and cultural richness of the European countries

How could further improve the inclusion policy in your country in the future?

 

Ostholstein should become a region in which all people – with more or less challenges, with handicaps and without –, people of different age, gender or ethnic background are welcome as citizens, guests and customers and are sure to participate in social life – in a barrier-free way.

The project “Ostholstein für alle – bereit für Inklusion und Barrierefreiheit” (i.e. Ostholstein for everybody – ready for inclusion and barrier-free access) is pursuing this goal. It is about sensitising people and institutions for this topic and advertising that inclusion and barrier-free access are concerning everybody. We want to develop a plan, a strategy, how we can approach this ideal in Ahrensbök. We have extended our knowledge in practice by the experience we gained by the In-Town project. We want to try to implement barrier-free access and participation in all parts of (social) life in our municipality and community, as far as it is possible for us.

Inclusion and barrier-free access have become applicable law by the UN-Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2007/2008) and it is to be implemented in all social areas/ranges.

Statement about the In-Town project

Especially in this day and age we think it is especially important that we Europeans exchange international experience in this form, that was realized, and to encourage and strengthen each other. Alongside with the discussed topic of inclusion, getting to know the people and their cultures in other countries are among that, as well as, respecting their culture, establishing ties, developing more intense cultural understanding for each other and even building friendships.

 

 

 

 

What further topics could be exchanged within our twin town and sister city networks?

Further topics in the future could be “immigration”, “changes in the European society/societies from the point of view of children and teenagers”, or – very generally – “the topic of education”.

The municipality of Ahrensbök hopes for all participants and involved people that we all will be able to exchange with each other and support each other via our newly available network. Our dialogue can definitely be expanded on further social topics.