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Archive of European Projects

Youth volunteering for the development of rural communities
Start date: 01 Aug 2014, End date: 01 Dec 2014 PROJECT  FINISHED 

This youth exchange involves 20 young people from rural communities in Germany and Slovakia, including from a disadvantaged Roma community in Eastern Slovakia, in a two weeks lasting program. The project aims to enhance entrepreneurship, initiative, volunteering and active participation of young people in the matters of their rural disadvantaged communities. Young people with Roma background and young people facing the risk of unemployment in deprived areas develop practical skills and competences relevant for their personal and professional development, and they create their own vision and strategies for the future of their communities. The project deals with the situation of young people in deprived and structurally underdeveloped rural communities, where unemployment is high, and many young people feel forced to move away. The structural change of the rural areas leads to a loss of identity and lack of participation in society. Stereotypes and intolerance thus constituent a challenge in rural communities that needs to be address, in communities of Saxony-Anhalt, as well as Eastern Slovakia where a growing racism and extremism threatens Roma communities. Through the learning process of democratic principles as well as through the encouragement of responsibility and solidarity, successful participation develops an integrative function in society. The program is developed by the partner organizations and based on the involvement of young people. Although the group leaders take partially the role as facilitators who ensure the quality of the process and the protection and well-being of all participants, we aim to strengthen the responsibility and active participation of the participants as much as possible. Participants contribute during the preparatory process, as well as during the whole youth exchange to the design of the final program, based on their needs, challenges and interests. The program is based on methods of non-formal education, taking into consideration that many young people from disadvantaged background are involved, involving different educational backgrounds and language skills. Thus, the program aims to overcome any language burdens, to enable intensive work in small groups, to facilitate an interactive and experience-based learning process that gives time and space for sharing, reflection and creation of ideas, initiations and visions of the young participants. The program flow allows in the beginning the sharing of expectations, motivation and fears, and it strengthens the team building and group dynamic. It creates a space for the young people to share challenges, problems and chances that they face in rural communities in the two different countries. In very workshops, involving practical activities in groups and reflections about the learning process and the own vision, the participants discover issues that address the development of rural communities, including through social entrepreneurship, sustainable tourism, through volunteering and active participation. The project address issues of youth unemployment in rural communities and it allows the participants to develop key competences, such as the sense of initiative and entrepreneurship, social and civil skills, and practical job-related skills. Moreover, through outdoor and adventure pedagogy the project strengthens a strong group process, as well as cooperation, communication and mutual trust. The project will have a strong impact regarding the competence development and the learning process of the participants, as well as it will enable to shape their own vision and initiatives regarding the development of their own communities. The project presents new tools and strategies to tackle youth unemployment in particular structural disadvantaged regions. The project will be part of a long-term process, and the youth group is planning to visit and engage in a follow-up exchange in the reality in Eastern Slovakia. The project will develop relevant practices which will be widely shared among our local, national and international networks.
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