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The Youthwork Factory
Start date: Aug 1, 2015, End date: Oct 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

PROJECT SUMMARY The YouthWorkFactory is an effort to gather and inspire young people from many different backgrounds to excel in local youth work. After many decades of fragmentation in the western youth culture, a new focus is needed today bringing together and building bridges between youth on the one hand, and between young people and the local community on the other. It may be an answer to the increasing polarisation endangering the values Europe has been built on (such as tolerance, brotherly love and religious freedom). Since young people are and will always be the trendsetters in any kind of new development, we hope that building bridges will become a trend, to bind together for the sake of a better future and a better world. But a better world does not begin on Mars or in Brussels; it starts in our own local communities. So that is where the mission of BridgeBuilding needs to begin. And it will begin with young people. Because young people today are facing many challenges that seem impossible to overcome, we need the whole community to come together to support youth. There are many kinds of bridges to be built. Not just the youth who are most likely to succeed as they have good grades, the status and the money, but also the young people who face the greater challenges of poverty and unemployment and whose future looks dim. The youth culture today is not easily defined and understood. Therefore, youth work today requires effort, constant analysis and diligent discipline to work out the nuts and bolts on how to best lead and guide young people to be motivated, ethical and caring citizens of this world and of Europe. With this in mind we organised a training programme called the YouthWorkFactory. From the region of SouthWestern part of the Netherlands where Atlantic Bridge finds its home, we want to build a strong network that not only reaches across Europe but also to North America. This is nothing less than an effort to improve the quality of youth work in our western world. But we need to start small. Our aim was to bring together three people from seven different countries. We trained and guided these teams to build effective local work in their own local communities a whole year long. And we supported them in this process throughout the year. We will evaluate the year during the local exchanges and during a final event in the summer of 2016. Our methodology is to create new small teams of youth (Bridgebuilders) focused on building bridges, they are armed with a curriculum to train them in this art and discipline. At the same time a regional team of adults, parents and friends has been found in support of these teams and its youth leaders. As they learn the blessings of a global society they apply these acquired attitudes and skills to their local community setting, building positive communities focused on mutual respect, cooperation, faith, hope, peace and love. As these communities are impacted we plan for a growth of these teams locally and on a European scale. The heart of this mission is about love, hope, faith and peace. These are the Christian values that help build a better world. But these values are challenged today with the increase of selfishness, greed, need for control etc. which are often at the heart of the increasing polarization today. Perhaps it is time that we return to the values that have built up Europe to what it is today, a continent in great demand by people from other continents to come to and live in! A Europe of tolerance, individual dignity, brotherly love, equality and peace, values deeply rooted in Christianity. But young people today are losing these values as they lose their connection to their Christian heritage. And so we hope that the churches that are the guardians of these values across the last two millennia, will join our effort to build a revitalised positive youth work so needed in our world today.
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