A practical approach to sustainable youth work

YouthProAktiv successfully conducted a mobility training in Brussels for youth workers, from the 13th to the 18th of November 2022, focusing on “A practical approach to sustainable youth work”. It was under the framework of the Erasmus+ program and co-funded by JINT. 

The training was designed and managed to meet the following goals:

  • Increase the knowledge and practical competencies of youth workers on sustainability issues and practices. 
  • Increase the sustainable and greener capacity of youth work, preparing youth organizations to better incorporate green policies and behaviors in their daily work as a positive example to the youngsters they work with. 

More specifically, the training was organized so that the transferred resources and tools:

  • Raised youth worker’s awareness of EU sustainable policies, funding, and strategies to promote the capacity of youth work
  • Provided youth workers with the practical tools (mobile applications, activities, and methods) that can be used to ensure the sustainability of youth projects and youth work.
  • Offered the foundational basis to develop new synergies and activities focused on sustainability and the development of sustainable positive behaviors,
  • Increased youth workers’ understanding of how to specifically engaged the disadvantaged youngsters they work with on sustainable positive behaviors.
  • Boost youth workers’ professional engagement and their roles as agents of change for environmental and sustainable development. 
  • Empowered youth workers to contribute to the development of green education and culture strategies and methodologies for a sustainable future. 
  • Equipped youth workers with future-oriented non-formal education activities and projects, as well as with the support of initiatives initiated or to be initiated by our consortium partners. 

The training “A practical approach to sustainable youth work” counted with the participation of 27 youth workers from the following countries: Slovenia, Serbia, Greece, Georgia, North Macedonia, Turkey, Armenia, and Belgium. The sessions were facilitated by Francesco Tognoni and Marina Angerri from YouthProAktiv and Paloma Cantero Gómez, CEO at WeDoPositiveLiving. We also had the honor to enrich our training with different speakers: Ana Mulió, Environmental Policy Consultant and Project Manager for sustainable challenges; Ifigenyia Stoilova, Communication Assistant at Eurodesk; Marijke Janssens and Marie Kenis, Project Manager and Trainee at CIFAL Flanders; and Natacha Laermans, Bussiness Development Officer at Green Tripper. Thanks to all these collaborators, participants were also able to exchange their best practices from their organizations, have great debates about their common sustainable challenges, and learn from the experience of experts in the field. The program also included different hands-on activities, such as presentations, workshops, practical exercises, icebreakers, community-building activities for peer learning, and self-reflection sessions.

An important aspect of our training was our partners: EKO (Greece), Social Innovation and Integration group (Georgia), Avrupa Entegrasyon Dernegi (Turkey), Interkulturalis (Serbia), Klub koroskih studentov (Slovenia), ZIP Institute (North Macedonia), Youth for Development Foundation (Armenia), and YouthProAktiv (Belgium). Our partners carefully selected passionate and responsible youth workers who brought their knowledge on the topics and previous experiences, which undoubtedly added value by increasing the quality and diversity of the exchange.

On the first day of the training, the participants received an introduction to sustainability and EU policies from our guest speaker Ana Mulió. We also focused on our environmental footprint and overshot day. We all had the perfect introduction to the objectives of the training, jointly with participants’ expectations, needs, and fears. We closed our first day of the training with a visit to Parlamentarium. 

Our second day with “A practical approach to sustainable youth work”, started with an icebreaker by ranking our participating countries according to their sustainable practices, policies, and awareness. This exercise was ideal to confirm or deconstruct preconceptions and stereotypes. We continued with two sessions where our participants were the protagonists: (1) presenting their sustainable projects and strategies of their home organizations, (2) and debating on recycling strategies and policies of their home countries. We closed the second day with an informative session on practical tools (mobile apps and platforms) to enhance sustainable practices and behaviors.

The third day of the training also started with two intercultural icebreakers which helped participants activate and get to know each other better. Then we continued with a presentation on “Education for Sustainable development” and the respective resources provided by UNESCO, jointly with a practical session on developing an activity planner. After these sessions we had the pleasure to receive a presentation from Ifigenyia Stoilova, representing Eurodesk. She shared information about the sustainable promotion and dissemination items and practices for our participating organizations to introduce greener initiatives. 

Regarding the fourth day of the training, we warmed up with two funny icebreakers: one about mimicking sustainable actions and the other about categorizing countries with post-its according to their sustainable policies. After the icebreakers, the first session focused on the development of an organizational action plan for each participating country. After that, we had the pleasure to welcome Marijke and Marie, from CIFAL Flanders. They introduced our participants to SDGs and diverse assessment methods for their projects and organizations. Their informational session was followed by a practical exercise (SDG Wheel) and a debate about SDGs. We closed our day with a self-assessment debate, jointly with a session on “dissemination action plan”, where our participants created digital material for dissemination. 

The last day of the training “A practical approach to sustainable youth work” focused on the evaluation survey of the training and the experience as a whole, the Youthpass Ceremony, and the creation of digital dissemination materials for our respective social media accounts. Participants had the opportunity to deeply reflect on the learning outcomes and their acquired skills and attitudes. This marked the end of our training week. Time for emotional goodbyes, informal networking, and positive reflections on the week. 

Concluding, this training had as priorities non-formal education activities and the encouragement of active participation of youth workers. It was managed to ensure that sustainability was used as a tool to better reach and engage disadvantaged youngsters, active citizenship, and ethics in lifelong learning. Through its specific sessions and the different international non-formal education projects, this project called upon the reinforcement of disadvantaged youngsters’ critical thinking and social engagement through sustainability awareness and the development of positive behaviors. In the end, the success of this training reinforces the need to increase capacity and recognition of youth work and non-formal education as key factors for sustainable change.  

As in every YPA training, even though the agenda of the training is intense and demanding, participants had also the opportunity to enjoy some leisure time in the evenings by visiting the most attractive and emblematic spots of Brussels. Thus, through this unforgettable experience, and also through their YouthPass certificates and the skills acquired, youth workers will be able to increase their sense of mutual belonging and foster their sustainable practices and behaviors within their youth organizations. This, consequently, will provide new opportunities, synergies, and potential projects for disadvantaged youngsters all over Europe to participate in mobility projects. Through this trainings, we are taking a step towards motivating and activating a key group of people who often struggle to engage with their networks or society.

If you are interested to participate in our future trainings or you want to get new information about our achievements, please do not forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook, visit our website or subscribe to receive our very own newsletter!

Check out these videos in our Instagram Page to have a more visual idea of what the training!