Don’t be afraid to show your true Colours – Youth Exchange

Youth Express Network took part in the Youth Exchange “Don’t be afraid to show your true Colours” that took place in Milcoveni, Romania, from the 31st of August to the 7th of September 2018. 

This colourful youth exchange was developed and coordinated by the Romanian organisation Volunteering for All Association. It was financially supported by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Commission. Y-E-N FACT: it was during our Partnership Building Activity “Working Together in Europe“, in 2017, that was born the first draft and idea of the Colours Project 😉

During 8 days, 40 young people coming from 7 different countries gathered to work together towards promoting LGBTIQ+ Rights and fighting against discriminations. Through activities based on non-formal education, they were able to learn more about the Erasmus+ programme, LGBT Rights in their countries and through Europe and the No Hate Speech Movement.

This exchange was also an opportunity for the participants to learn more about themselves and their role inside the LGBT community, to hear and share personal stories and reflect together on ways to make a change at local level. In groups, they got to exchange ideas and tools to fight against discriminations and develop ideas of projects or events to implement in their cities.

As a result of this work, the group came up with a beautiful public event to raise awareness on LGBT Rights in the city center of Resita, Romania. This event took place on the 5th of September. The young people got to make their voices heard through various artistic and informative means such as: a dance performance, impactful posters, a live and online survey and an info point.

Partner organisations: United Societies of Balkan (Greece), Asociacion Mundus (Spain), CoEfficient (Hungary), Youth Express Network (France), Balkan LGBTQIA (Belgium), RROMA (Macedonia), Semper Avanti (Poland)

Project supported by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.

All inclusive 1, Georgia – An ArtS.I. Youth Meeting

From the 20th to the 29th of July 2018 in Rustavi (Georgia) was held “All Inclusive 1”, the first Youth Meeting of our work plan “ArtSI: The Art of Social Inclusion“. This activity was the first follow up activity of our Training of Trainers “The Art of Togetherness”, which took place in May 2018, in Strasbourg. 

“All Inclusive 1” gathered the active youth of 6 countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Russia, and Turkey. 7 of our member organisations took part and sent their Young People. More than 23 participants stayed together and had sessions and workshops on topics such as: intercultural learning, stereotypes, no hate speech, conflict and peacebuilding.

During the 8-day activity, participants also practiced how to use Arts to transmit messages to society, to promote peacebuilding and deconstruct stereotypes, among many other practices. During the Youth Meeting, the participants also had the opportunity to reflect on how to adapt these tools and implement them at local level within their work with young people. 

This event was full of events to promote intercultural learning and communication. During one of the sessions participants had a chance to meet Youth Workers that came from another project, on another day participants also had a possibility to go out to meet with locals in Rustavi. And of course there was a time to learn, feel and taste Georgian culture in Tbilisi. It was a great experience because, as it is said: “Better to see once rather than hear hundreds of times”. 

The meeting ended but the participants had passion for future actions, they were ready to take actions on themselves. So in the future, we will stay tuned and observe their own projects at local and regional level. 

Partner organisations: Common Sense Youth Organization, Falcogroup, Federation of Youth Clubs of Armenia, Institute for Democratic Changes, League of Youth Voluntary Services, New Faces, and Youth for Understanding.

– By Mirismayil Rzayev

Project supported by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe.

Action Day #7: Culture, Leisure and Sport

To celebrate our 25th year acting and networking towards Social Inclusion of Young People, we wanted to put a spotlight on some of the ENTER Recommendation, a tool we often use to teach Young People about the Access of Social Rights.

ENTER recommendation #7:
Culture, Leisure and Sports.

This month, we asked our member organisations and friends to tell us about the various measures they implement at local level to help young people access Culture, Leisure and Sports. Here are their answers!

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Oviedo, Spain – Member Organisation

Inclusion of young people with fewer opportunities through sports in nature & youth exchanges.

“The combination of outdoor sports and young people with fewer opportunities is definitely worth to take into consideration for youth organizations working towards social inclusion. Outdoor sports in nature open up a space for new possibilities, where we can explore limits in different levels. Firstly, in terms of self knowledge, every youngster has the chance to understand the boundaries that have an effect on his/her social, physical, psychological condition and how he/she wants to relate to them (what are the boundaries that affect me the most, am I willing to extend/break these limits, do I have any help to do so, etc).

The second level is connected to teamwork, playing sports in nature is a chance to improve group cooperation as it fosters peer-to-peer learning. Both play & nature are two elements that help to overcome individual prejudices towards a better group cohesion. Finally, the last level is re-discover nature that offers a place free of labels & boundaries, a place where young people with fewer opportunities can get out of closed spaces where they usually have to be (physically and psychologically speaking). In this sense, nature in a perfect context for young people to connect with their most authentic self.

If you add to this combination a third ingredient, youth intercultural exchanges, the experience can be even more enriching & transformative in different ways. Gathering together groups of young people coming from different cultural background is an opportunity to grow through intercultural dialogue. Being in a diverse group gives youngsters the chance to think beyond their cultural frame, but also to share their difficulties and challenges with persons with whom they have many things in common, thus developing a strong sense of belonging and inclusion. In this framework of youth exchanges, working through sports in nature also boosts youth empowerment, as they are invited to cross beyond their comfort zone with the support of other youngsters and youth workers.

In Youropía we have been developing these type of projects over the last years, hosting youth exchanges within the frame of Erasmus+ in our region. The main purpose of these intercultural meetings is to foster inclusion of young people with fewer opportunities through outdoor sports. Projects such as Lost in translation, Lost in nature & Lost again have been a very inspiring and high impact experience as regards personal & group development. Thanks to these exchanges we have witnessed how young people became active agents in inclusion after developing a strong awareness of social & group cohesion.
We are actually so motivated with this topic that In two weeks we will host another youth exchange called BEAST (Better energy and social thrive) in which we will gather 24 youngsters from Helsinki, Krakow and Oviedo. Hopefully the combination of sports in nature, young people with fewer opportunities and intercultural youth exchange will be again a learning and life changing experience for all of us!”

YOUROPÍA team

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IDC

Tbilisi, Georgia – Member Organisation

In July 2018, the Institute for Democratic Changes, our member organisation from Georgia, implemented a Youth Exchange called “The Sound of Culture”. This project supported by the Erasmus Plus programme aimed at deepening co-operation among young people, intercultural dialogue and encouraging the inclusion of young people with disabilities in international projects. The Youth Exchange gathered a total of 34 young people from Georgia and Estonia.

Through activities based on non-formal education, the group got to learn more on various topics such as inclusion, youth cooperation, and intercultural dialogue. But another big part of the project was the sharing of Culture and Traditions. Throughout the 9 days of the Youth Exchange, the young people got to discover the culture and traditions of the country of their fellow participants, as well as the inclusion of young people with disabilities in cultural and international youth projects. They also got to express themselves through art and finished the Youth Exchange with a public presentation of their musical numbers and theatrical performances.

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Porto, Portugal – Friend Organisation

“Okna: /ˈɔk.na/ center of east european culture, open space of multiculturality, community experience, window of the east in Portugal, also known as Plus East”

“In times when getting people together is more and more important, Plus East appears by the end of 2016 with the clear aim of promoting East European culture in Portugal, building bridges between the two sides of the continent.

And what better way to promote a contemporary, modern idea of the East than through cinema? Films have always been moments of togetherness, sharing emotions and stories, this is why we organise BEAST – International Film Festival, a big scale event representing 21 countries in Porto during 5 days of pictures, workshops, masterclasses, meeting between directors and the audience, roundtables, music and parties. The festival creates a strong connection between the New East and the community of Porto, involving volunteers, students, businesses and institutions.

On our year long activity OKNA is the home of Plus East, more than an office it is a window to the East, a gallery, a screening venue and the place where our EVS work, helping us on the development of several projects as the festival, but also the cinema cycles, as the Romanian Film Nights and also where their projects become reality – as Isabela’s ArtAmalgam, an illustration exhibition with 3 artists from the 3 Baltic countries, or Mona’s monthly book club and Alexandru’s Night Photography exhibition. Since its inauguration in April 2018, with an exhibition of a Portuguese photographer in Ukraine, OKNA has received over 500 people.

Plus East and its team is dedicated to promote culture and art as a way of creating a more tolerant and open society across Europe where young people feel empowered to create and exchange.”

Plus EAST team

Action Day #6: Housing

We continue our 25th year celebration, with a closer look to a sixth ENTER Recommendation, the recommendation on Housing of Young People.

One of our French member organisations, the Association l’Etage, works every day towards the support of young people in difficult situations. The access to Housing is one of their main actions.

Strasbourg, FRANCE – Member organisation

L’Etage, club de jeunes

For 30 years now, the “Étage, club de jeunes” has been supporting young people with difficult backgrounds through various types of actions: day care, social restaurant, postal domiciliation, access to health care, parenting support, individual support and counsel…

The cafeteria, opened all day, and the social restaurant, opened from 8:00 to 20:00, allows the organisation to create and keep a human contact with the youth population in difficult situations, often homeless young people. Each year, a thousand people come to the Etage for help and support.

For the past 15 years, the organisation has widened its services to new publics such as families or remote populations of all ages, but the young people are still the main beneficiaries.

Access to housing in numbers

Each year, the organisation implements various measures to support young people with housing:

  • 10 stabilisation spots: with this measure, the organisation gives an individual social support and counsel to remote young people, allowing them to access stability and facilitate their future orientation towards structures adapted to their situations;
  • 29 spots in Accommodation Shelters;
  • 50 spots of “renting inter-mediation” : with this measure, the organisation contributes to give guarantees to the landlords, allowing the access of young people to a stable renting solution;
  • 70 spots for the European Resettlement Programme for Refugees: this measure in linked to the commitment of the French government to welcome 10 000 people in the frame of the European Resettlement Programme.

Since December 2013, the organisation l’Etage also helps families “with uncomplete rights”. The Family Accommodation Center has developed considerably since this date. The center’s agreements have allowed the hosting and support of 518 people, including a majority of children.

Public registered at the day care

The “Lézard au soleil” event, an art sale for the organisations

The association l’Etage organises each year an art sale called the “Lezard au Soleil”. The profits of this sale goes to a different association each year. On the 30th of June, 60 artists will paint on the docks of Strasbourg.

The profits of this 22th edition will go to a collective of associations of people hosting and supporting Syrian and Iraqi refugees to help them with their inclusion in France. Musical animations, drinks and food will also be proposed during the event. Link to the event on the image (French)!

Sources (French)

EU4YOU – Second seminar in Cancun, Mexico

The participants of our KA2 “EU4YOU – Entrepreneurship for cultYOUre” met again in June for the second seminar of this Capacity Building project. This time, they gathered in Cancun, Mexico, in order to continue the development of the various workshops to be implemented at local level.

The aim of this long-term project is to develop innovative complementary pathways for boosting employability of young people through social youth entrepreneurship and providing them with tools for cultural entrepreneurship in particular. Youth Express Network developped this project together with partners from 3 different continents:

  • Fundación Sustentabilidad, Educación y Solidaridad (Argentina)
  • Active Bulgarian Society (Bulgaria)
  • Business & Innovation Center of Serres (Greece)
  • Active Youth Association (Lithuania),
  • Iniciativas Internacionales para la Cooperación (Mexico)
  • Brigada De Voluntarios Bolivarianos del Peru (Peru)
  • Center for Sustainable Development Studies (Vietnam)

During this second seminar, the participants created 4 workshops about social entrepreneurship, cultural management, strategic planning and fundraising. They also drafted the content of a toolkit on cultural entrepreneurship and discussed together the upcoming job shadowing in each others organisations.

The job shadowings will take place during the winter, in Europe, South America and Asia. The objective of these will be to test the workshops and the toolkit before the dissemination in 2019. Stay tuned!

SEE MORE PICTURES

EU4YOU is supported by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union

ACTION DAY #5: The Art of Togetherness!

This year, Youth Express Network celebrates 25 years of work and action towards Social Inclusion of Young People. We wanted to take this celebration as an opportunity to put a spotlight on some of the ENTER Recommendation, a tool we often use to teach Young People about the Access of Social Rights.

Our #12actions project aims at dedicating each month to one of the ENTER Recommendation by doing, initiating or communicating on various ways to implement these recommendation and by doing so, contribute to a better access of Social Rights for young people.

ENTER recommendation #5:
Education and training.

Youth Express Network has organised several trainings during the past 25 years! As a matter of fact, we did one of those this month! We thought it would be an interesting example of what can be done at local, European and International level, to provide youth and social/youth workers with education and training on Social Rights and how to access them.

Training of trainers

The training of trainers “The Art of Togetherness” was the first activity of our work plan of 2018: “ArtSI: The Art of Social Inclusion”. It took place at the European Youth Center of Strasbourg between the 11th and 17th of May 2018 and was supported by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe.

The Aim of this training was to grow and train a new generation of Y-E-N trainers and facilitators, able to make an impact on young people’s lives using artistic expression to promote empowerment, full access to social rights and a sense of Togetherness.

The training gathered 25 youth and social workers coming from 18 different countries! 24 youth organisations from all over Europe were represented.

READ MORE ON THE TRAINING PHOTO ALBUM

Regional Youth Exchanges

The work plan “ArtSI: The Art of Social Inclusion” will continue its work through 3 regional youth exchanges between the months of July and September. During these Youth Exchanges, the participants of our training of trainers will become youth leaders and facilitate the activities.

Together, they will put to practice the knowledge, skills and competences they got from the training and guide the young people through topics such as: youth expression, peacebuilding and conflict transformation, social inclusion of young refugees and their transition from childhood to adulthood, youth expression, intercultural dialogue and social inclusion of minorities.

Work Plan supported by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe.

Dear MEPs and PACE members, this is our Open Letter

In 2017, we coordinated the project “TOG(AE)THER in Europe: Living, working and shaping Europe together” financially supported by the Erasmus + programme of the European Union and the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe. The project aimed at advocating and lobbying for the social inclusion and access to social rights of young people in Europe, by empowering them and providing them a space to meet and dialogue with policy-makers.

During this project, we confirmed once again that young people are ready and willing to share their ideas and needs of the present and future. Unfortunately, we were disappointed to find out that no member of the European Parliament came to meet with them to listen to their needs and ideas or engage into dialogue with them. The invitation was sent 2 months prior to the event to 60 European decision-makers (MEPs and PACE members).

We decided to send them an Open Letter. Here’s that letter.

Y-E-N’s Diary – Winter 2017

2017 started well at Y-E-N. It was full of beautiful local projects, new friends and a few work meetings under the mediterranean sun…

Local actions

Y-E-N’s first trimester of 2017 was specially productive at local level in Strasbourg, where it co-hosted four events around several topics: youth mobility, inclusion of the refugees and cross-border student exchanges.

The regional platform Alsace Mobility Crossroads, which was co-funded by Y-E-N, held the first of event of the year, an information evening which took place on the 28th of February. Six of our local partners involved in Youth Mobility were present to answer young people’s questions and doubts about cross-border, European and International mobility. Local French television was also here to film the event and interview the hosts, Fabienne Orban, associative organisational consultant at the House of Organisations of Strasbourg and Brigitte Ludmann, Mobility Projects Coordinator at Y-E-N. The event was a success and many young people left with a clearer view on the opportunities they could seize and the benefits of mobility, whether it be to study, work, help organisations…

On the 6th of March, Y-E-N and Eurodistrict organised together a cross-border « Project Market » gathering around 50 French and German youth workers and youth organisations to create a network around youth projects. As the event also closed Eurodistrict’s Fund for young refugee 2016, the focus was on projects benefiting the inclusion of young refugees. 5 organisations were invited to present their integration projects in little groups and 17 projects in favour of refugees were presented graphically. The participants were then able to share about their experiences on implementing cross-border and integration projects. Organisations could also gather information about external and internal fundraising.

Still in March, Y-E-N also coordinated 2 cross-border student exchanges between Germany and France. 2 groups of German students came to Strasbourg to meet French students and do vocational trainings or individual work placements. As part of this experience, they had the opportunity to have a language workshop and discover for the first time the french language thanks to non-formal education. Their first contact with the french culture was followed with a visit at the ICEI (Information Center of European Institutions) to learn about Europe, its institutions, its economical and political reality and the importance and future of the Franco-German relationship.

New faces

  • In January, Y-E-N’s Coordination Office welcomed Arbenita, young intern in Administration Management. Meet Arbenita!
  • In February, Margaux joined the team as a Communication Officer, the first ever in Y-E-N’s history! Meet Margaux!

Y-E-N says no to Hate Speech

In March, some members of the Coordination Office took part in a the local Training Course in Strasbourg for the No Hate Speech Movement: “Connections and alternatives: Populism, Sexism, Hate Speech, Discriminations – Training Course for Human Rights Education”. The training was co-held by the Municipality of Strasbourg, the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe and the French No Hate Speech Movement. The purpose of the training was to gather people from different backgrounds (youth and social workers, high schoolers, college students, activists, organisations…) and encourage them to brainstorm together and implement actions to celebrate World Refugee Day on the 20th of June in Strasbourg.

Under the Greek sun

Also in March, Y-E-N visited Greece and our local friends there, TWICE! First, for the first Board Meeting of the Year, and secondly, for the Preparation Meeting of the first activity of the Year Work Plan: Living in Europe Together. More about this one soon 😉

 

“Light your Rights” Seminar in Mollina, by Natalia Militello

“We have the light. You have the rights!”

“Light your rights: Reveal the social value of Youth Work” is a seminar organized by Youth Express Network (Y-E-N) and Roots and Routes (R&R) during the 16th edition of the University on Youth and Development. It took place between the 20th and the 27th of September in Mollina (Spain), where 22 young youth/social workers and young artists (coming from 9 different countries) gathered together to discuss about Social Inclusion, Social rights, the social value of youth work, and eventually, to promote all these topics through artistic tools. Being part of the UYD also meant that the participants had the opportunity to meet and discuss with other 150 participants coming from all over the world and who were participating in other trainings taking place at the same place.

The programme of “Light your rights” dedicated the first three days in exploring Social Inclusion, Social Rights and youth work, and then provide the participants with artistic tools.

First of all, through a simulation exercise, these young people tried 1) to define what social inclusion means to them and, 2) which are the elements necessary to reach social inclusion. It has to be said that during this activity the importance of social and youth work was already highlighted spontaneously by participants. Therefore the next step for everybody was to think about the most important moments on their roads to youth work. While sharing their stories (all of them emotional and powerful), the group suddenly realized that youth work is important for social inclusion not because a book says so, but because through youth work they were able to find the place where they belong to.

The day after, it was time also to explore Social Rights, because we have understood that being given only money and a roof above our heads is not enough to feel part of a community. Through the game “Enter Dignityland!”, participants understood better how social rights and policies work. Despite the fact of being playing in a “fictional country”, all of them immediately related the social rights and their policies to their own countries, sharing and comparing the different realities. Another important finding was also that youth workers and youth NGOs need to cooperate with other actors (teachers, lawyers..) in order to promote and fight for Social Rights. During the fourth day, it was time for creativity! Artistic workshops were organized and the participants explored different ways to express: drawing, theatre, music… To put in practice what they had learnt, each one was asked to think about an episode of social exclusion they have experienced and to represent, in a one-minute performance, the feeling engendered by being excluded. And they did it! They showed how one minute can be meaningful, rich of emotion but especially, how such short time can be enough to transmit a powerful message.

The fifth day was another opportunity to become even more creative, but this time as a group. Task of the day: to create ways and tools to promote Social Rights and social inclusion in artistic ways. Participants were able to show the results in the evening, in front of all other participants of the University on Youth and Development and the local community. Excellent slam poetry and dance, but above all, the message was clear to all and gave everybody the opportunity to think about social inclusion and Social Rights. Motto of the performance: “We have the light. You have the rights”.

Well, all good things come to an end and the last day arrived (for someone even too fast): time for “see you soon again” and to catch the flight back home. But even though the name on the ticket was the same as on the way to Spain, something inside was not the same any longer. The participants for sure left enriched with a new experience, new contacts, new friends or maybe more tired. But they also left with a new awareness: how meaningful social/youth work has been in their lives and what a powerful tool it is to promote social inclusion and social rights. Because as one of them said: “Knowing the social rights and their policies by heart may be up to lawyers. But caring about Social rights and helping people fight for it, is up to us!”

Written by Natalia Militello, team member of the seminar.

LYR_Teamwork

LYR_DignitylandLYR_TimelineLYR_Closing performance
LYR_CommunityNight