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Youth Exchange Between Limerick and Joensuu - East Meets West
Start date: Jan 1, 2016, End date: Sep 30, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

East Meets West is a youth exchange project between Limerick and Joensuu. Nine young people and two leaders from Finland will come together with nine young people and three leaders from Ireland to plan, implement and evaluate a youth exchange programme that will take place in Limerick, Ireland between 21.03.2016 - 27.03.2016. This partnership has been in development informally for over a decade as a staff member from each partner organisation has been in contact with each other exchanging working experiences. We finally decided to formalise this partnership and start planning a youth mobility project together.The young people taking part in this project share a common ground in having fewer opportunities in life. They come from backgrounds of communities with high levels of unemployment, mental health problems, low literacy and numeracy levels, one parent families and substance misuse. The young people are 13 - 18 year old boys and girls, with learning difficulties, low self esteem, poor social skills, ADHD, Asperger's syndrome and mental health problems. With this project we aim to provide these young people with new experiences that they would not otherwise have an opportunity for. We aim to positively influence their outlook in life and promote their active participation in the whole process of the youth exchange from planning to implementation through to evaluation in order to improve their self expectations and self esteem.The aim of the project is to bring together two cultures from two countries in promoting active participation of young people in their own self development and learning, and making new experiences which these young people would otherwise not have an opportunity to get. The learning outcomes for this project include promoting positive self confidence, strengthening language skills, developing acceptance of diversity, developing team working skills and promoting the prospects of further education / training / employment, as well as realising the possibilities of international opportunities for young people.The aim of the project for the two partner organisations is to share their expertise and knowledge in the field of youth work and educational disadvantage, to compare the policies, practises and methods use in the two countries. We also aim to extend our professional networks beyond our countries' borders and to expand to intercontinental partnerships. By doing this we aim to improve our own professional practise in the field of youth work and educational disadvantage.The project plan includes extensive preparation stage in which the young people will be actively involved in researching their partner countries, and planning and developing programme activities. The implementation stage comprises of the youth exchange which will take place in Limerick, Ireland in March 2016. The activities during the exchange include educational visits, sporting and team building activities, making learning diaries for reflecting on self development and using the Youthpass for monitoring learning outcomes. Young people will actively participate in group work, individual reflection, informal and structured interaction and dialogue and team building. The emphasis will be on creating opportunities for young people to make new experiences, achieve a sense of success in taking part and through this develop their self confidence and life skills, the theme being see the world, feel the world.The impact of the project will be to have reached the outcomes we linked from the national policy framework Better Outcomes Brighter Futures with our project objectives: The young people who took part in the project will have a sense of Achievement, they will have experienced Active & Healthy options and they will feel Connected and Respected. We hope to have empowered the participants to realise their own potential and the opportunities they have around them. The young people will have grown in self confidence, developed their social and life skills and accumulated a bunch of new life experiences. They will make lifelong friends and have created international networks with peers who they share common ground with beyond borders of countries and cultures. The young people will make memories that will last them a life time.Long term benefits will include a positive influence on the participants outlook in life, improvement in their attendance, participation and retention in education and the realisation of possibilities of further education / training and employment. For the partner organisations the long term benefits will include the improvement in their working practices, and the possibility of extending the international network of colleagues to a further partner country. The long term plan for the project is to eventually extend it with a return youth exchange from Ireland to Finland, with prospects of further international networking and interaction between the two partners.

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