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Wind for the Mill: Active participation in a rural environment
Start date: Jan 10, 2015, End date: Jul 9, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"Particip'acção" has been developing different recreational and educational projects with children and young people, using participative methods. These activities were carried out with partner organizations, both in urban and non-urban areas. "Wind for the Mill: Active Participation in a rural environment", was created by this informal group of young people carrying out a project that would help them improve their entrepreneurial skills, planning, involvement and responsibility. This experience and the fact that a large proportion of young people in the group are from rural areas of the Alentejo region, meant that they were committed to the need to reflect and implement active participation activities in rural areas, contributing to improve the integration and their ability to citizenship of children and young people in society. The group conducted a survey along with international partners met in other exchanges and training courses under the Erasmus + and previous Youth in Action program, in order to understand if the issues on the promotion of participation in rural areas would also be for them a challenge. Receiving positive answer, the group decided to hold the international youth exchange as to improve the applied knowledge and enhance the skills of rural active participation at local and European level. The objectives of the project were: to know different rural and urban realities, at European level; identify a common definition of active participation; share best practices related to the topic; develop and strengthen partnerships at national and international level. It was intended also to design methods adapted to rural areas that allow building a link between the participants and the local community; design projects to be implemented after this exchange and prepare a new meeting of reflection-action from the obtained results. The project also intended to address the following needs of the organizations involved: - To train volunteers and future leaders; - To strengthen the motivation and dynamism of volunteers; - To strengthen or create new networks of international contacts. In the exchange were a total of five leaders and 39 participants, respectively one leader per country: Portugal, Spain, Italy, France and Romania, and 8 participants per country, except France, where there were only 7 participants. In terms of gender, was attended by 23 female participants and 21 male, keeping the goal of promoting gender equality. The participants were volunteers in sending organizations, developing activities with children and youth in order to promote the active participation and citizenship. The majority of these young participants came out from panoramas with lack access to information and contact with different realities. Their participation was a huge contribute to the project since they reflect rural dynamics, allowing so depth in theme exploration. Altough, within the established perfil, the number of participants in the conditions described above, didn't fulfill the expectations, wherein only 25 identified. Over the eight days of exchange were carried out different activities in order to enable participants to undertake a small project of participation in a rural area, involving the local community. In order to allow the participant's growth of skills in a participative process based on non-formal education, it were carried out welcome and team building activities in a cooperative spirit. After presented the program objectives and with openness to participation, the rules that guide all activities were built. Then, each association showed up some activities and projects developed by them. Together, they presented the individual/group learning expectations for the exchange. As to get to know the culture of each represented country, an intercultural evening was held attended also representatives of Alvito community, that participate in presenting Alentejo culture. In order to think about the active partcipation in rural area, reflexion activities had been developed with different approaches. It was taken,then, the first session of workshops on active participation, where participants developed their knowledge of Project Methodology. During the three days scheduled and at the end of the exchange, evaluations were carried out in small and large groups, allowing participants to reflect on their learning and skills developed. The results of evaluations were being included during the exchange. We also visited two local organizations that work with the community, promoting participation of local inhabitants.

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