Start date: Jul 1, 2015,
End date: Feb 1, 2016
Clothing and design style play one of the most important roles in young people's lives. The way young people dress becomes part of their identity and the way they are perceived by the others. On the other hand, the question what exactly young people express through their clothes and how is it related to their self-esteem and self-perception remains open. Young people, especially those with disadvantaged backgrounds, are often unaware of their needs and passions or believe that they are not able or skilled to express themselves by their personally crafted clothes. Thus, the main idea of this project was to explore if and how it is possible through cloth design process enter young people personal sphere to reveal they talents, passions and competences in order to use them as resource in further social and professional pro-activity. To do so we created an innovative educational model stimulating self-awareness of young people and entrepreneurship through cloth design called Design Yourself Educational Model (DYEM). This educational tool is openly accessible to the youth workers, trainers, teachers and counselors as it takes the perspective both the learner (for young people) and master (for youth workers and educators). It contains both the manual how to make research and how to create a learning environment in the area of self-expression of young people as well as presents our practice offering also the online space for follow up, feedback and new ideas.
Another objective was a research study on youth pro-activity in clothing design and craft that was conducted both in Poland and in Germany. The research consisted of qualitative and a quantitative phase, the latter founding on the prior. The outcomes from both phases in Poland and in Germany were the basis for the content of practical phase of the project: coaching support, online support (in the form of online learning paths) and craft workshops. The research proved that clothing is important for most of young people and that developing own style consists of different methods, starting with easy things (as adding decorations or gluing something) or more complicated ways like sewing completely new clothes. The data has shown that young people interested in self-expression through their own style very often find ways to do so, regardless of lack of finances or access to machines. However, the study had also demonstrated that the idea of what and how to express oneself is crucial in this process. Linking this outcome with education and youth work it seems important to support young people in discovering and developing their own ideas for self-expression through personal or online support, such as learning paths that we have created and inserted on the Design Yourself project's web page. The importance of having an idea goes in line with the research results focusing on factors that encourage young people to manual self-expression, in which personal support was indicated the most. The data also shows that many young people are interested in expressing themselves through their style but either feel little talented or lack ideas. Moreover, the study revealed that young people both in Germany and in Poland while wearing things created on their own feel positive with the surrounding world as well as with themselves: they feel stronger, more confident or more secure. As for the proactivity of young people different aspects became visible during this research. There seems to be a difference between proactivity of people expressing themselves manually and those who don’t express themselves manually. However, this difference is not as clear cut as it was imagined to be at the start of this research. The analyses of proactivity for both German and Polish data show that most respondents are proactive or show this potential.
We also constructed "DesignYourself" online platform as an interactive space for young people who are creative in redesigning own cloths and want to become proactive it that area as well as for handmakers, fashion designers , youth workers and trainers interested in a topic and new methology.
To realize these objectives we created the partnership consisting of two partnership organizations: Arte Ego from Łódź experienced in international and local projects addressed to young people using different art media: circus, sound system, visual art and street work, and its German partner GrenzKultur gGmbH/ Kabuwazi from Berlin providing children and youth with the help in building up needed social skills mainly through the methods of circus. The project was realized with the support of the post-psychiatric hospital youth centre "Imbryk" and the network of designers and companies involved in the design of clothing, tailoring and creating accessories. The group of 16 young participants (including 5 persons with fewer opportunities) took part in pilot workshops being part of DYEM elaboration process.
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