The Centre for Children and Youth
Teen Challenge Int.
Teen Challenge International
We are part of an International Christian organization Teen Challenge International that helps people from addiction abuse. It was founded in the US in the 1950s and has become widespread across the world. It was established in the Czech Republic in 1994 and operates contact centres, resocialization centres and children’s centres.
Why the Centre for Children and Youth
The Centre for Children and Youth was founded in the Prague – Žižkov district in 2001. The centre´s specific aim is to help children and youth that are in direct risk of drugs, crime, social exclusion and other undesirable occurrences that they face. Efforts are made to provide as comprehensive care as possible to children and young people, from hygiene, food, clothing, to tutoring, assistance in writing assignments, leisure activities to specifically targeted prevention programmes (alcohol, bullying, truancy, drugs, smoking, crime, etc.)
The main activity is the afternoon meetings for children, called clubs. The children are divided into 3 groups according to age and for each group there is an afternoon program twice a week.
Who we are here for
The target group is children and young people from 3 years to early adulthood and their families who are at risk of social exclusion. Most of our clients are Roma, from socially disadvantaged conditions, often from broken families, with little support in their efforts to get an education and integrate into society.
Since 2022, many Ukrainian children are also coming to us as a result of the war.
What are our goals
Our aim is not only to help these children and teenagers avoid the incidents that devastate a person’s life, but to base their future on right values and attitudes, to take responsibility for themselves and integrate into society and lead full and meaningful lives.
We believe that every person needs God in his life, His love and forgiveness, which is why Christian education is also a part of our program.
How do we achieve the goals
- We organize regular leisure activities that teach children to spend their free time in a safe manner.
- We support clients in their educational development and labor market (we prepare preschoolers for their enrolment, we offer tutoring, we support and encourage children in their school attendance, we help in secondary school selections, we provide necessary study aids, we help graduates integrate into the labor market)
- We offer pastoral care (individual interviews to solve specific problems of the individual) as well as assistanceand practical help.
- Christian education is also a part of our programs, children get acquainted with Christian principles and values.
- Through joint events, we connect children and teenagers with peers from the mainstream society, many of which have already built good friendships.
- We offer families material (teaching aids, medicines, clothes, food from food banks) and practical help (escorting to court, to offices, moving).
How it all began
In 2001, Vítek and Lucie Pohanka began working with children and young people in the Prague district – Žižkov. At that time, Žižkov looked very different to what it is today. Children wandered unnoticed on the streets and found various, often dangerous and harmful enjoyments.
The Pohankas and volunteers began preparing programs for these children in parks. Some time later they had regular meetings on the premises of the Brethren church on Koněvova Street. They organized summer camps, sleepovers, trips and many other events for children.
In 2002 they rented two rooms in Chlumova Street, however, the space quickly became insufficient and so they decided to submit their entry into a tender for the lease of a house on Havlíčkův náměstí. Their project was successful and in 2005, after receiving the building permit, they began extensive renovations of the building, which was in severely poor conditions and was used by squatters for many years.
By God’s grace and blessing, after 7 years, the house was reconstructed by donations made by individuals, companies, churches, grants and collections. In 2012 the center had a grand opening.
How is it now
The service has grown greatly over the years. In recent years, it is regularly visited by approximately 80 children between 3 and 20 years of age. Often there are up to 50 children there in an afternoon.
The current Head of the Center is Pavel Bukáček.