This profile was prepared when Michaela Wicki was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1997.
The New Idea
Michaela Wicki is combating the growing problem of homeless youth in Czech Republic. After years of working for state-sponsored social service institutions, she has concluded that their approach to dealing with the problem of homeless young people is too simplistic to deal with the myriad problems that most of these youths face when they attempt to move back into society and adulthood. She is moving beyond the typical one-dimensional model of care for troubled youth in the Czech Republic and developing a program which meets not only the physical needs, but also the emotional and psychological needs of homeless youth.Her program initially removes the young people from the typically urban and often dangerous environments in which many of these young people find themselves. She takes them to a completely different place, one that is rural and very sheltered. Then through a three-part program she slowly reintegrates them into society, so that by the end of the program they have built up the knowledge/skill base that they need to cope in the real world and also have the emotional fortitude to become happy and productive citizens.