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Rural Youth & community building
Start date: Jan 1, 2015, End date: Jul 1, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Our dream was to create an action-learning program for mobilising and involving rural youth in active citizenship and social change. With this training, we wanted to inspire young people and youth workers to propel community development in rural areas, at the same time as they could gain tools and develop competences for social entrepreneurship. In a global crisis context, unemployment and lack of opportunities for sustainability has become more acute in rural areas. Where there is a lack of social organization, cultural or working opportunities, you will see unsustainable neighbourhoods. Within this context you will often see a big presence of unhealthy leisure activities, connected to drug abuse and alcoholism and a wish from youngsters to migrate to bigger cities. Our program was based on learning by doing methodology, and we invited participants to experience the principles of the Elos Philosophy and the community mobilisation methodology; Oasis Game. This method challenges participants to try different ways of approaching community work and active citizenship. It has an integral impact: at an individual level: it builds up skills for social entrepreneurs, at interpersonal level: develops communicational skills, and creates structures to host and embrace diversity, at a community level: gives an impulse for collective action, and to a global scale creates a culture for transformation. Look for an impression of the whole training to this movie: Number and type/profile of participants We had 35 participants, 90% of them work and or live(d) in rural areas in Spain or the Netherlands. The 20 Spanish participants were mainly youth from rural areas of Spain, and the village of Zarzalejo where the program took place, young professionals that have attended the program of "creating future", or social and youth workers from the region. The 15 Dutch participants were young professionals active in the trainers pool of, young entrepreneurs who are active within projects of or youth workers connected to our projects on a local level. Our goals, as explained before, was to create a space of active learning to strengthen, Spanish and Dutch participants from rural areas active in the youth field, their capacities to mobilize youth and communities for creating social change. To foster within the group of participants entrepreneurial spirit, skills for community building and mediation, teamwork and horizontal leadership. In order to inspire them and give them tools, using different social techniques, so they can facilitate process to develop their own creative solutions to the critical problems we are facing nowadays. To create spaces for collaboration and co-creation between participants to develop social or ecological initiatives/projects in their own territories or at a regional level. Lastly, but not least, to boost a grass-root initiative in a rural community, involving the young people from that community to lead a process of community mobilization and empowerment. Undertaken activities During the preparation we organised meetings with the village, realised a selection process in which the potential participants had to do some assignments, designed a preparation and program guide and a facilitator manual. During the ten days activity the participants experienced each of the steps of the Oasis Game: the appreciative gaze, affection, dream, care, action, celebration and revolution. Each step introduced different activities based on social techniques and cooperation pedagogy: tools for community and team building as cooperative games, circular dances, non-violent communication and the art of hosting. We also introduce different techniques along the training for smart group working as world café and open space and other group facilitation methods. The activities combined; personal work and reflection, group work and interaction with the community and village. Based on non-formal education tools and service learning, participants were invited, through dynamics and activities to actively participate in the program. To take the lead and co-create together with facilitators some sections of the program, in a fun and full participatory process. Participants where also invited to explore other ways of communication and expression using their creativity and artistic skills; as painting, writing, drawing, drama, music, etc.. More information is to be found at our participants blog:
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