Toolkit: Inclusive European Youth Projects

During our last seminar “Working in Europe Together”, the participants (young people and youth workers), brainstormed and developed together a toolkit for inclusion workers engaging young people with fewer opportunities in European projects, Y-E-N projects mainly.

The toolkit conception was the focus of a full afternoon. The facilitating team suggested the World Café methodology to harvest ideas and reflections from the participants. Groups were formed and each of them spent some time brainstorming and sharing good practices and suggestions on 3 specific questions : What should youth workers do? What should young people do? What should Youth Organisations do?

For each of the questions, the participants identified solutions, advices and good practices. Together, they compared their experiences and came up with efficient processes of selection, preparation and follow up for Youth Projects.

You can now find all of these key informations in the Toolkit : Inclusive European Youth Projects, drawn by Coline Robin, the talented graphic facilitator who worked with us in our 2 last projects, Living in Europe Together and Working in Europe Together (see reports here).

This practical booklet is intended to help inclusion workers who work everyday with young people with fewer opportunities in European projects. It aims to enable European youth organisations to reduce the exclusion of young people with fewer opportunities in European individual or group experiences.

 

Graphic Reports “TOG(AE)THER EUROPE”

HERE THEY ARE!

The graphic report on our last activity “Working together for an inclusive Europe” is here! It was made by Coline, graphic facilitator, who has been following and drawing us for our past two activities.

You can also read our previous graphic report on the very first activity of this year’s work plan, the youth seminar “Living in Europe Together, our challenge!

 

Passing on the Torch: warm words from Valentina

Last Month, two dedicated members of Y-E-N handed over their seats at the Board table to new young people equally eager to change things around!

They wanted to pass on their wisdom of experienced Y-E-N members! 🙂 Here is the letter of Valentina, who was a Board member for two mandates! Thank you for your work Valentina 🙂 We sure will see you again very soon!

Y-E-N WAVES

Youth Express Network’s projects move like waves: it is a powerful natural force, which we can only watch, swim by, but not control.

Y-E-N Waves is the name of our first time ever made research on the impact of Y-E-N’s project on young people’s life.

I was working in Y-E-N’s office for an internship when we were preparing the research, about two years ago.

To me, thinking for a proper name for the research, wasn’t just about finding “the name”. In Y-E-N anything is thought “just because”. There is always a long process of researching and deep reflection behind everything we do. 

Y-E-N waves: moving fast or slow but always bringing new surprises.

Since I attended my first project in 2012, I remember how fascinated I was by the amazing opportunity I was having. I travelled for my first time to Strasbourg, I was being welcomed by nice people and most of all, I was working for seven days with 30 other young people from everywhere in Europe! How incredible for a 17th years old girl to be in such a space with people from different countries, all speaking different languages.

That was the beginning of an incredible journey.

 On the last day of that project, I wanted so much to speak with a trainer from Y-E-N and say: this is what I want to do! This is where I want to be! 

I got great support and motivation.

Since then, I attended more than 2 projects per year, met INCREDIBLE people from all over Europe, learned about Human Rights, elected member of the board, being the vice-president, and facilitate the creation a local group of young people in Rome within my organization Affabulazione.

More than that, I learned about Humanity, Integrity, Motivation. I would never EVER be today the woman I am (personally and professionally) without the experience in Y-E-N. This network gives you a unique gift: sense of responsibility.

A sense of responsibility not just for yourself, but for the society we live in, for the community around us. 

It is definitely a long journey, but every step is incredibly rewarding.

When you understand about integrity and responsibility no-one EVER can take you this things off from you: they are forever yours, no matter which challenge life presents you.

Today, after taking the decision of leaving the board, I never ever feel to leave the network and I want to contribute to feed its creativity, its uniqueness.

I look back at that 17th years old girl in Strasbourg looking at the window and wanting to be in Y-E-N so much, and I look at myself today and still, wanting to be in Y-E-N vividly, sincerely, with a new vest.

All this, to say to every human being, that Y-E-N is is a human example that all together WE CAN make changes, defend our rights, promote our integrity, create a stable, creative and INCLUSIVE community. 

This is Y-E-N, like a wave, its power never ends, it recreates itself.

I will always say: go beyond, be critical, and think for the others as well. 

Be a Wave, be Y-E-N.

With Love,

Valentina”

Passing on the Torch: warm words from Katarina

As Youth evolves through generations, our board experiences changes every two years. Passing on the torch to new people and ideas is important, necessary and beneficial for the evolution of the network, its accuracy, its strategic directions…

During the last GA, we said goodbye (and see you soon!) to two of our Board Members. They wanted to mark this special role switching with a few words 🙂 Here is the letter of Katarina, who was Board Member twice, for 4 consecutive years!

Social inclusion is needed everywhere in the world today, but not everywhere you can learn how to fight for it for your self and others in your community. And then, there are those people who are even more socially excluded than yourself, how to support them is life important lesson.

Youth Express Network is a bit of a parallel universe where magic for social inclusion for Young people is happening. It is not a place since it is so many people in many places across Europe and in some stages across world, it is not place and time since social inclusion is an eternal necessity of today’s Youth. Youth Express Network is a unique personal and Professional experience that will never leave you and you will never leave it even if you physically left.

I met Y-E-N in 2009, I think, as participant. It was love at first activity which motivate me to motivate my hometown organization to start working more on social inclusion and become member of the network. We were members for several years before we decided to have me as Bord member candidate and it worked four years ago I became board member. Between organizational membership and me being in the board we, as organization and me personally were learning a lot from the network, people working in secretariat and we really enjoyed meeting new organizations. For me personally it became a place where I charge batteries for local activities, where I meet really passionate people willing to contribute and support each other and more importantly support Young people in fighting for social inclusion across Europe.

As board member for three years I learn so much about international cooperation and collaboration, European mechanisms for Young people and social inclusion and most importantly I was very happy to meet people, projects and organizations across Europe. Within the network I had a chance to be member of board as international team but also I was honored to be president and support international board and network secretariat in their work. This was such special year for me, so many learning points about myself, people, international Youth work, team building, leadership and Mutual support with one group. It was a very interesting, extensive process to be part of the board and to be president. Each day in Y-E-N brought new ideas, new challenge and opportunity and at the end of each task people feel that they really contributed. All the time I felt useful and responsible.

In these four years I had many opportunities to be part of international Training teams and meet and support hundreds of Young people and what a special pleasure it is to have some of them as coworkers within the board. Cooperation with secretariat team of the network is very interesting and unique experience because trough their work you see how important organization is in local and International context and at end of the day it is them who bring us together.

Every challenge, every day and every ideas in Y-E-N is Worth your personal commitment and challenges. In this parallel universe you can create and in real life these ideas make so much sense. I would recommend this journey for every Young person for their Professional and personal development.

Hugs :)​

Katarina Vuckovic

News from our friends: youth workers meeting in Armenia

We are always happy to get mail from our members and friends, telling us what is happening for Youth and Social Rights throughout Europe! A few days ago, Sirarpi, one of our friends, also trainer in our pool of resources, send us a letter to give us news about Armenia and her meeting with Association of Social Workers of Armenia.

Hello my dear Y-E-N

I hope my letter finds you well and in a good and positive mood.

I want to share with you some news about today’s meeting with Association of Social workers of Armenia and social organizations that are working in Kotayk region. I was in a meeting with them discussing the problems that young people and children are facing in the region. 

During the meeting some main issues have been raisen, such as lack of information among families who are living in rural areas, educational difficulties that have young people in the region and Legislative amendments  that are going to be suggested to governmental bodies after evaluating the situation in all regions. More than 8 organizations’ representatives were present in the meeting and they presented projects that they are doing to solve the social problems that have young people .

During the meeting I represented the projects that our networks are realizing. I represented ENTER Recommendation and talked about how we can work together to implement one of its measures and support disadvantaged young people in Kotayk region. As future corporation we have arrangements for having meetings in the cities where the organizations are working.
Hope that everything will be realized soon and will have it’s roots in our inclusive society.

Best wishes,
Sirarpi

Working Together – Day 5

Day 5 was our last day in Timisoara! The program focused on two things: the presentation of the different projects created previously by the participants and the evaluation of the whole week.

In the morning, each group that had developed a project the day before presented their work to the rest of the team. In total, 7 projects were presented.

  1. The Art of Togetherness“: to increase & raise awareness on social rights & inclusion through art.
  2. Participation Through Youth Mobilisation“: to increase youth participation through mobilisation in the Youth Work field.
  3. Don’t be afraid to show your True Colors“: to break stereotypes & increase acceptance & inclusion towards LGBTIA+ in Europe.
  4. CAT: Citizens Against Terrorism“: to raise awareness on extremism & prevent youth to fall into extremism.
  5. EVS for Everybody“: to send & host organisations from European & Eastern Partnership.
  6. Campaign against Cyber-Bullying“: to involve & raise awareness on the issue and train young people and educators to recognise & help victims.
  7. Gender-Based Violence“: to support victims & map the local situations.

The afternoon was dedicated to an evaluation of the 5-days Partnership Building Activity. Overall, the participants felt that they learned a lot and really understood Y-E-N, its work and the opportunities that can come out of being a member of this big family of European organisations. They were able to create several partnerships and created a special bond that, we hope, will allow beautiful projects to see the light.

Our next activity will be the Evaluation Seminar, third and last activity of our annual plan “Tog(ae)ther Europe“. It will take place in Strasbourg during the first week of October 🙂 And we can’t wait to meet everyone again!

 

Working Together – Day 4

Fourth day of Working Together was the beginning of the development of the participants’ projects.

On the morning, the participants were given a training on Project Management, using the « Project Management Timeline », 10 crucial steps in any project development. After that, they were invited to present individually their personal ideas of projects based on the issues they face at local, national and European level. The topics that came out were human rights for teachers, gender based violence, climate change, sustainability, peace & environment education, active local youth, radicalisation & terrorism, cyber bullying, tolerance, social enterprises, social inclusion through arts, EVS, LGBTQI+ rights, human rights education without language barriers, E.U. and eastern Europe partnerships…

The major part of the day was dedicated to brainstorming in groups. The various topics were packed in 5 different themes and groups were formed. The brainstorming was guided by the “Open Space Technology” (O.S.T.), an approach to purpose-driven leadership. The O.S.T answers to 5 rules : whoever joins the group IS the right person, whatever happens IS the only thing that could have happened, whenever it starts IS the right time to start, when it’s over, it’s over and the last rule, the Law of Two Feet (“If you are not learning or contributing it is your responsibility to respectfully find a place where you are”). Like this, 4 ambitious projects emerged from the common ideas of our participants. The topics selected were: creative methods for social inclusion, active youth to make a change, prevention of terrorism & radicalism for a more tolerant society and LGBTIQ rights & tackling gender based violence.

At the end of the day, the participants were shown a french documentary about new initiatives and new ways of changing the world at local level. The documentary covered the fields of Agriculture, Economy, Energy, Democracy and Education.

The program of this day aimed at giving the youth workers and young people the right impulses to create beautiful projects together and it worked. With 5 big collaborative projects spread in several European countries, Y-E-N has once again allowed organisations to meet and work together!

Working Together – Day 3

During the third day of our Partnership Building Activity, the participants were introduced with more details on Y-E-N’s values and its Vision 2020, the contradictory notions of Integration and Inclusion, and the ENTER Recommendation.

The rest of the day was dedicated to 4 inspiring Study Visits of local social and youth initiatives and local organisations.

The first two visits were located in the same property, an old hat factory rehabilitated and now kept alive by a few beautiful initiatives. Our first stop was at the Non-Profit Social Enterprise AMBASADA. Created on 2014, AMBASADA forms a meeting place for NGO’s, freelancers, artists, musicians, passionate people and, among others, young people with disadvantaged backgrounds. The participants were able to get advices on project guidelines and left the place with a beautiful example of good practice at local level.

We then visited another project installed in a little building a few meters away from Ambassada’s backyard, Basca, a human scaled initiative focused on circus and art. From circus workshops to cultural events such as art festivals, Barca aims at having positive social impact on young people and the community.

The third visit was actually an encounter as we met with Ghita, co-founder of the Butterfly Dreamer Organisation (who also kindly accepted to facilitate our GA a few days before) who presented to our participants the organisation, its network of over 40 organisations throughout the world and their passionate work.

Last but not least, we went on a walk to join Eugen, one of the founders of Youth Express Network. He showed us the office of our member organisation, the Intercultural Institute of Timisoara and explained to us its daily activities, its structure. We also had the chance to hear him tell us the history of the city of Timisoara and its role in the Romanian Revolution in December 1989.

What a day for motivations and productive energy! Day 4 and 5 will be the beginning of the group’s main objective: coming up with projects for Y-E-N’s Work Plan of 2018. They certainly will not be lacking of ideas after this day!

Working Together – Day 2

Day 2 was dedicated to Youth Work. Through various activities, the participants were invited to reflect and define what youth work means for them, what it is and what they think it should be.

After having clarified the stakes and current context of Youth Work at European level (Council of Europe, Europe Union, ENTER Recommendation, Youth Department of the COE, EYF, Salto, Erasmus+), the group was asked to present the specific situation of Youth Work in their country.

In little groups, they introduce to the others the profile and status of their Youth Workers, the challenges they face and the support they can find. Together, they compared the different situations and could thank to that wide perspective draw a realistic map of European Youth Work. They highlighted the common struggles and motivations of European Youth Workers and discovered the many differences and realities of their neighbours.

During the afternoon, the participants worked together on the creation of a toolkit for Youth Workers to implement during the creation of a Youth Projet. They did so with a World Café.

In groups, they brainstormed on three questions: What should youth workers do? What should young people do? What should Youth Organisations do? For each of these questions, they identified solutions to the issues they face daily and imagined efficient processes of selection, preparation and follow up for youth projects.

Thanks to the motivation, collaboration and passion of these youth workers and young people, Y-E-N will be able to produce in a few month an essential toolkit for youth workers and organisation!

Working Together – Day 1

The first day of any Seminar is always intense! It is usually a special day dedicated to discover each other and build the healthy and strong foundations of a productive group.

To do so, the first morning of this week’s activity “Working Together for an Inclusive Europe” started with a few energizers and icebreaking games. Through these, the participants got to discover each other’s passions and learn a little bit about their respective experiences in NGO’s and Youth Work. To prepare themselves for the 5 days of work awaiting, they also were invited to fill the traditional board of Fears, Expectations and Contributions.

The organisation FITT, our host and long time partner of Y-E-N, was then presented to our participants, as well as our local member organisation, the Intercultural Institute of Timisoara. The latter was organising the same morning a “Human Rights start with Breakfast!” conference, and the participants of both events (Y-E-N’s and the conference) were invited to meet in the afternoon for a NGO’S FAIR.

To prepare this meeting, the participants drew posters presenting their organisation, its vision, target groups, methods, etc… The Fair was a great success and our participants were able to exchange some contacts with the people attending the conference.

The afternoon finished on 4 Team Building Activities which called for various skills from the whole group: communication strategy, non-verbal communication, time management, leadership and co-responsibility, problem analysis and resolution, respect and trust…

Our introduction day ended on that cheerful note and an intercultural evening. Already, the group feels cohesive and eager to change the world, “petit à petit”, city by city, all together. 🙂