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Rural volunteering goes digital
Start date: Jun 1, 2015, End date: Nov 30, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Social inclusion of rural youth through digital competence was a project that was carried out by the partnership consisting of Swedish, Portuguese, Russian, and Belarusian partners. We planned to combine the strengths of partner organizations to meet the needs of European rural youth by improving their employability, digital skills and the sense of social inclusion. The Project included 2 legs. The first one was the Seminar that took place in Portugal with 4 participants involved from each partner country. The participants met to share views on community volunteering as a way to deal with unemployment and social exclusion of rural youth using digital competence and to present profiles and experience of participating organizations in this field. The second one was the Youth Exchange that took place in Russia with 10 participants and 2 group leaders involved from each partner country. They worked on and managed to put into practice the community volunteering project ideas developed during the first leg of the Project. At the dissemination and follow-up stage the participants were encouraged to transfer their experiences to the local networks and increase their participation in the life of the communities they come from. The objectives set for this Mobility Project included promoting the concept and the values of community volunteering as a way to deal with unemployment and social exclusion of rural youth; equipping young people with the skills how to engage motivated young people to be community volunteers and how to share their knowledge and digital competence with their peers; presenting and multiplying good practices of youth work and youth participation projects to improve employability of rural youth. The experience gained by our partnership from the tradition of youth work indicated that fostering community volunteering using digital competence can be a powerful mechanism of social inclusion and increased employability for rural youth as it offers opportunities for integration in the labor market and the society. Information and practical experience in the spheres of ICL, social inclusion, digital competence and employability of rural youth was obtained by the participants through non-formal education activities. These activities also empowered the participants to work on development and realization of concrete volunteering projects. As it was set in the objectives for this Mobility Project and the program planned for it, the participants of the Mobility Project improved learning performance, enhanced employability and improved career prospects, increased sense of initiative and entrepreneurship, increased self-empowerment and self-esteem, improved foreign language competences, enhanced intercultural awareness, more active participation in society, better awareness of the European project and the EU values, increased motivation for taking part in future (formal/non-formal) education or training after the mobility period abroad. The participants discovered their abilities and became more self-confident, which improved those skills and led to a successful integration into real social and working life. This Mobility Project enabled the participants to meet and communicate in different ways and on different levels. We put all possible efforts to help the project escalate the level of cross-border cooperation, especially in the form of independent community-based youth initiatives.
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