Environment and Biodiversity
La Châtre, France
60,000 € to the Selection Committee at 2005/12/06
Project leader À tire d'Aile
« I recommend you give your full support to this project to provide a different future for these young adults and to help their families who are already doing their utmost to support their children.! »
A serious and disconcerting condition, there are now 100,000 sufferers of autism in France. This handicap, which becomes apparent in the very first years of a person' life, affects the normal development of communication, causes emotional difficulties, and results in considerable upset to family and social life.
Only 10% of sufferers currently have access to support, often summary in nature, for a few hours a week and essentially only for children: with the exception of psychiatric hospitals, in France, there is nowhere for autistic teenagers and young adults to go.
Create "Life Homes"
One couple, whose child is autistic, decided to take action. They created the À tire d'aile association and bought a property near the town center of La Châtre, Indre, France. On this two-hectare site, the association intends to open in January 2006, three "life homes" for 24 autistic teenagers and young adults, and recruit 33 people locally. The property is ideally situated in the event of an accident or serious medical problem, as it has direct access to the city's hospital nearby.
This project, called La Maison des oiseaux, will provide specialist medical and educational care, along with nature-based therapy: introduction to farming, animal care and horse-riding - all of which activities have recognized therapeutic value.
The project will be financed by contributions from Sanofi-Aventis and France Telecom, a bank loan and the À tire d'aile association's own funds generated from sponsorships. In July 2003, it received authorization from the Comité régional de l'organisation sanitaire et sociale (Regional Health and Social Committee), and the French Ministry of Health is committed to covering all the center's running costs as soon as it opens. The 360,000-euro contribution by the Veolia foundation will be used to furnish the three "life homes".
Family life for 24 autusts, as near as possible to the real thing
In early 2007, the project of Maison ds Oiseaux was finally completed. In the main kitchen of the castle, the home appliances purchased with the grant from the Veolia foundation (ovens, refrigerator cabinets, dishwasher, conveyors) were being installed. The three new "life homes" were being readied to receive their first occupants: 21 young autists, divided into groups of seven in the villas, each of them accommodated in a private bedroom with bath.
Following their installation, the managers of A tire d'aile soon decided to offer the residents responsibility for developing and maintaining the vegetable garden, so that these autists would, as quickly as possible, experience a way of life similar to what they would have found in their own families.
In addition to these 21 full-time boarders, another three will be admitted as day boarders. On the whole, the overall management of these 24 residents demanded the recruitment of 33 persons (monitors, educators and specialised therapists).