17-22 April 2023 thirty young leaders from sixteen countries got together in Portugal, Setubal to enjoy the learning journey within YMCA Europe’s Leadership Academy programme “Youth ImpActs”. The project is co-funded by the European Youth Foundation.
The aim of the project is to strengthen the capacity of young leaders of CSOs in delivering socially impactful activities in their local communities for refugees and other vulnerable groups
- Develop knowledge and skills on intersectionality, vulnerability, inclusion, work with refugees, needs assessment, role of CSOs, impact, project design algorithm;
- Motivate young leaders for design of socially impactful activities for the refugees and other vulnerable groups;
- Promote Intercultural learning;
Day 1 was devoted to getting to know each other, warming up, setting learning objectives, making agreements, signing up for the chores. After lunch the participants started exploring the terms of equality, equity, inclusion, justice and intersectionality.
Salome Kalabegashvili, Georgia:
“The facilitator led an activity called “Take a Step Forward” which helped us understand new terms. This activity involved participants taking physical steps forward based on various statements the facilitator made. The statements were designed to help participants understand the various privileges and challenges people face in society. The activity generated some insightful discussions and helped us to develop empathy towards each other.
The session concluded with a fun activity called “Bingo Night.” but human bingo to also get to know each other better and somehow to remember each other’s names. Overall, the session was a success, with participants getting to know each other, setting learning objectives, discussing diversity, and having fun with the activities”
Daire Power, Ireland on Day 2:
“We had a great second day, building on many of the themes we introduced from the day one, centred on equality, equity, diversity, belonging, and intersectionality. We started with some great energisers that got us moving and most importantly laughing.
Our first activity was about understanding why people move to different countries, the different push and pull factors that can be at play, which led to us discussing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Keeping this in mind, we moved onto our central activity of the day of ‘City Planning’
In small groups we were given resources that we were to include and lay out in our ‘ideal’ city, we had to plan the distribution and access to these services and where we would house our inhabitants. Through this activity, we uncovered our own priorities, and how the lens we see the world in had consequences for the people who lived in the city. It was really interesting to see how different groups prioritised and distributed resources. Themes of our discussion afterwards centred on intersectionality, unconscious bias, and discrimination. It became obvious that in order to improve planning, speaking with the communities involved is crucial.
Our next activity focused on CSOs – Civil Society Organisations, what their role was, and the different aims, values, missions, and visions organisations have. We looked at the history of the mission statement of the YMCA, and how the original mission had many parts that were still relevant today.
Combining these two activities we then reviewed our cities and created a CSO that we felt would address the needs of our communities. These varied from healthcare, addiction, childcare, rehabilitation, open access services and more.
Our next session reviewed how to make a meaningful impact, by creating focus, targeted activities, and outcomes. Again with our cities in mind, we created funding proposals for fully realised events that would create the most meaningful impact for our communities. The biggest takeaways from these exercises were about being concise, clear, time bound, budget and resource oriented, sustainability, and meaningful impact.
To close our activities our Ukrainian participants led our daily devotion. Highlighting the role of empathy, perseverance, and solidarity needed during this time. Leaving us silent, and truly grateful for their sharing.
To finish up our day we had an amazing intercultural night, with snacks, treats, jokes, photos, songs, dances, and some fun international sayings that left us chuckling. An absolute success, and here’s to day 3”.
Day 3 started with introductory exercises on project management and a project cycle. Seeing an example of a simple birthday party planning, the group could see the complexity of the process, and elements which it includes.
The facilitators introduced a fishbowl session on needs assessment, giving the opportunity to speak about the needs of people who are forced to leave their countries and needs, successes and challenges of the receiving countries.
The second part of the day was devoted to the study visit to YMCA Setubal. The participants voiced the following main learning outcomes: inspirational examples of specific relevant programmes, needs based projects; importance of geographical location of the youth centre; youth leads being part of local communities; resources mobilisation examples; intergenerational approach; and of course, enjoying playing games with the kids in the centre.
Day 4 was devoted to design of specific project applications. Starting with problem description, coming to aim and objectives, the participants started shaping their local activities.
Within the whole project young leaders will have the opportunity to apply and receive small grants for their projects aimed at social inclusion of vulnerable groups with the focus on refugees and internally displaced people.
The day finished with the evaluation: reflecting on changes which happened on levels of knowledge, attitude, mindset and things people will do differently. The participants recalled their specific questions they asked on the first day and indicated if they were answered or not.
The leaders had the opportunity to sign the postcards and express gratitude to their peers. The energy giving devotion closed the day and the training.
During the spring and summer time the leads will describe and implement their local activities. The second and closing session will take place in Georgia, 31 October – 05 November 2023.
Full photo album here.