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Empowering young people from deprived urban areas to take the lead in environmental solutions
Start date: Sep 7, 2015, End date: Mar 6, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Young people have both special concerns and special responsibilities in relation to the ecological environment. At the same time young people are especially well-placed to promote environmental awareness simply because they have better access to information dissemination tools and social media than their elders. This project was based on European activities “Volunteering without Borders” and “Youth in Action for Safer Environmental Solutions”, where peer leaders learned to work together on community-oriented issues and invented potential techniques of spreading their knowledge to other young people. At the events they discussed the steps we should take to raise young people's awareness of the ecological problems. As a result of the final workshops the young people came to the conclusion that responsibility means that they must learn how to influence important public decisions in the field of ecological environment protection that affect them in many ways. This challenging issue was subsequently explored with the help of relevant non-formal methods and an appropriate range of activities within the frameworks of a specialised project targeting deprived urban areas since these are mostly disposed to ecological risks and hazards. With this project our partnership gave young people from deprived urban areas of the UK, Turkey, Belarus, and Moldova an opportunity to find out more about the possible dangers of ignoring environmental problems that our communities face. They learned how to keep a close watch on potentially dangerous actions and policies by initiating participation projects. The project helped the young people to learn about the dangers of man-made actions for the environment and equipped them with the tools to participate in environmental solutions. The participants were motivated to raise public awareness about possible dangers of ignoring environmental problems, especially among their peer group of young people coming from deprived urban areas. As a result of this project young people, supported by their sending organisations, developed strategies for contributing to environment protection and formed teams to control the environmental situations in their own community. Working on environmental solutions stimulated personal and organizational growth though a collective process. This youth exchange took place in Gomel, Belarus, the city facing the direct consequences of people’s negligence towards nature and environment caused by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. To implement this plan we used non-formal means of education. This included: a visit to a local youth club dealing with ecological volunteering; workshops and discussion groups where the participants shared their ideas led by facilitators to bring home lots of valuable experiences and use them in their everyday life, and etc. These methods enabled the young people to fully participate in the learning process. Learning from experience was a fundamental pillar in the way of facilitating the project. The exchange focused on key aspects of non-formal education like the participant-centred approach. The process was adapted to the participants’ needs and motivations as well as the group’s work rhythm. Each country was represented at the exchange by 14 young people from deprived urban areas plus 2 group leaders. The project was scheduled in such a way that they were able to communicate while creating drafts of their own projects. By finding something in common they strengthened their European links for further cooperation. The sending organisations supported them in realisation of these projects.
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