ACT area – Training course in Ukraine

From 8 to 14 August 2021 in Sumy, Ukraine, the first part of the ACTarea course was held, where 36 people from different parts of Europe took part: Latvia; Turkey; Spain; Armenia; Romania; Belarus; Ukraine. The aim of the ACTArea training course is to popularize non-violent activism as an effective tool for youth participation and the involvement of young people with disabilities, especially young people living in villages, refugees and minority groups. The project involved youth workers, activists and volunteers of partner organizations, representatives of local governments involved in youth work in partner countries, seeking to improve their professional level in working with youth.

The first day of the project is always devoted to acquaintances between the participants and team building, as well as familiarization with the topic of the project and the Erasmus + program. On the first day, the participants got acquainted not only with the coaches and each other, but also with the local culture and architecture while passing the quest around the city, where they had to do interactive tasks, as well as talk with local residents.

On the second day, the participants began to become more familiar with the themes of the project – discrimination and tolerance, violent and non-violent activism, the participants told real stories on these topics in their countries. During the session, the guys not only listened to experienced coaches, but also delved into the topic through games that were prepared by expert trainers from Ukraine, Belarus and Armenia. Through training activities, the participants felt the knowledge they received and were able to emphasize a lot for themselves. At the end of the day, the guys also spent an international evening, where they could get to know each other better, learn more about the cultures and traditions of other countries and present their country to others.

The third day was the day of the training. The trainers showed a lot of interesting and educational mechanisms and activities on the topic of social inclusion, why we need active youth and what they can achieve. Also on this day, information about the photo exhibition was announced, which the participants needed to replenish – the guys expressed nonviolent activity, social inclusion and equality through photographs, therefore, having divided into teams, they went to create content. All the content created by the participants was posted on the platform www.tolerart.com,  which was created in 2019 by participants in a youth exchange dedicated to tolerance and the fight against xenophobia, and which continues to be supported by the coordinator of both projects – the cultural society “Alternative Reality”.

The next day was a day of self-development and self-organization, the participants were given the opportunity to analyze the topics discussed earlier, and the opportunity to find different examples of non-violent activism around the world and tell others what they could find, it was a great example of knowledge exchange between people. After exchanging examples of excellent activities conducted, the participants began to think over the activities that they would need to do upon arrival after the project. In the evening we had a presentation of our organizations, which was also unusual. Participants found something in common between organizations in an interactive way.

On the last day, the participants planned and presented activities that they had invented and would be able to conduct with young people upon arrival from the project, and also summed up the work done. Participants learned about youthpass interactively through a quiz featuring different roles, with a touch of competition. In the evening, the participants at the dinner raffled off their youthpasses certificates among themselves, talking about each other and trying to guess who they were talking about. After them a farewell party awaited, in the best traditions of Erasmus +.

Speaking about whether this project achieved its goals, we can say with certainty that yes, because the participants received the knowledge and skills to work with youth in the field of popularizing non-violent activism, the topics of the project were mastered thanks to the help of experienced trainers and the activities they carried out.

The participants managed to develop a plan of their activities, which they can organize upon arrival. All project participants were very active during the training. During the project, there was equality between the participants, everyone was open to each other despite differences in age, nationality, cultures, language barriers and other criteria, all participants felt comfortable and were able to get acquainted with cultures and learn a lot about each other and new opportunities in their work with youth.

We plan to hold the second part of the ACTarea project in Latvia in June 2022, and most of the participants will meet again to share their experiences and activities, as well as prepare new non-standard methods for working with youth in an informal manner.

The project ACTarea was financed with the support of European Commission’s “Erasmus+: Youth in Action” administered in Latvia by the Agency for International Programs for Youth. This publication reflects only the author’s views, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained there in.

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