This is a reference for Eleni Stamouli

Creating Adaptive Tools for Youth Exchanges

The training activity took place
in Athens, Greece
organised by VSI-Ireland/ Tandem NGO-Greece
Reference person

Katerina Sarantidou

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Aims & objectives

This was a Training Course that brought together youth workers youth leaders and young people that were, or would be involved with target groups under the risk of social exclusion within youth exchanges.
The aim was to transfer to youth workers and youth leaders the know-how on adapting learning-tools, within youth exchanges, to accommodate the physical, cultural and social diversity of the participants.
More concretely, the objectives included:
-to raise and enhance awareness on the philosophy of inclusion focusing on abilities and diminishing disabilities;
-to explore and understand perceptions and needs of fewer opportunities target groups but also the added value that such groups can bring;
-to better understand the learning processes for participants with fewer opportunities within youth exchanges;
-to increase creative thinking in adapting learning tools that can include everyone;
-to learn how to use participatory approaches in the construction of inclusive programmes of activities for youth exchanges;
-to transfer the necessary competencies (skills, knowledge and attitudes) that are necessary to work with inclusion (communication skills, teamwork, creativity and innovation, empathy, leadership, supported learning, mentoring and coaching, risk assessment and management etc. - according to participants’ profiles and needs);
-to revise project management life cycle stages with a focus on fewer opportunities’ target groups;
-to promote Erasmus+ as an opportunity for inclusive international non-formal educational events;
-to network organisations active within youth exchanges and inclusion;
-to create a network and new partnerships for inclusion projects within Erasmus+;
-to create a manual of tools methods and activities applicable in youth exchanges adapted to participants with fewer opportunities

Target group & international/intercultural composition of the group & team

A group of 35 people was formed, with the help of all the partner organizations. Youth workers and youth leaders that are, or will be involved with target groups under the risk of social exclusion within youth exchanges, 3 experienced trainers, 1 special needs expert for reinforced mentorship, 9 people with disabilities, 5 accompanying persons for them, 4 people with fewer opportunities and many young people with experience or interest in organizing Youth Exchanges, all met during this Training Course, which took place in an accessible Hotel in the center of the city of Athens. The partner countries were Ireland, Moldova, Spain, France, Albania, Italy and Greece.

Training methods used & main activities

The methods we used were strictly based on the principles of non formal education, namely participatory approaches, group discussions, active learning, experiential education and learning by doing. We made small changes in the Programme as we felt that the group would feel better, but after the mid-term evaluation, we decided to change a session we had planned on communication tools and replace it with a living library session. It was a very good opportunity to learn from the diversity of the group and we concider it a good decision, since the participants evaluated this session as one of the strongest and more interesting ones. Also this session, since it involves exposure and personal sharing, helped the group bond even further and made the rest of the training course (the part where we worked on the manual) easier and the participants more enthusiastic and motivated.

Outcomes of the activity

The most important learning outcomes of the training course were according to our expectations and in line with the aim of the project: to transfer to youth workers and youth leaders the know-how on adapting learning-tools, within youth exchanges and accommodate the physical, cultural and social diversity of the participants.

Our participants reported achieving the following learning objectives through the development of different skills, attitudes and knowledge. Among many others, these included:
Their communication in English, including expressing ideas, opinions, emotions and needs, was improved, through communicating both orally and verbally, but also in the form of presentations in the course of the project.
Social competences, including intercultural learning, communication skills, teamwork, creative thinking and facing challenges in constructive way were enhanced, especially through this project, whose aim was to raise awareness of exclusion issues in youth mobility programmes, due to different physical, social and cultural obstacles. A learning outcome with great significance for the work of youth workers and youth leaders was that they became equipped with inclusive methodologies of mentoring and coaching young people with fewer opportunities in the course of Youth Exchanges.
Furthermore, civic competences were developed as we explored the issue of participation, especially of youth with fewer opportunities, with the focus on how to create inclusive learning environments from which one can benefit on a personal, but also professional level. On top of that, we created awareness in regards to the situation of exclusive practices and provided the necessary knowledge background in order to be able to turn exclusive into inclusive in future projects.
One of our most significant aims, in terms of learning outcomes, was also to put a great focus on the competence of “learning to learn”, since the training course offered and exchanged methodologies and adaptive techniques that provided the participants with tools to be used by them in the future. Identifying one’s own learning needs, planning one’s learning and self-development, but also monitoring and assessing learning within the process of creating the Youthpass, as well as personal reflections, peer reflections and daily evaluations were worked on during the training. Also, the participants enhanced their understanding on non-formal and informal learning as our training course used these fundamental principles, greatly based on Colb’s theory of experiential learning.
Moreover, the sense of initiative was increased, as the project was based on creating tools that will be used in the future by the partner organisations and other projects within the Erasmus+ context, where the participants had the opportunity to go through all stages of project/workshop development in a facilitated context with constant feedback, reflection and realization of learning outcomes on each stage. Participants had the chance to experience and adapt activities into being more inclusive and to raise awareness on people at risk of exclusion, especially in mobility projects.
All of the above learning outcomes were thoroughly planned within activities in sessions of the training course. These activities had a defined description, learning objective, debriefing strategy and reflection method in order to assure that learning takes place on a conscious level, addressing different learning styles and learning needs of the individual participants, but also the collective style and needs of the participants group.

Your tasks and responsibilities within the team

This training course was the result of an idea and a lot of hard work I shared with Katerina Sarantidou, a trainer from Tandem NGO. From the stage of the idea generation, the application, the selection of and communication with the partners, the selection of the participants, the decisions about the venue, the programme and all organisational issues, the implementation of the project, the evaluation, writing the final report and being in charge of the final draft of the Mannual, myself and Katerina were the two people responsible. It was a full time work, but a very satisfying one.

I worked on this training for 9 days as a full time trainer.

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