This is a reference for Ognian Gadoularov

Nature as a Teacher: ecocentric development in Youth work

The training activity took place
in Gudevica village, Bulgaria
organised by Learning for Change Foundation
Reference person

Bogdan Romanica

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Aims & objectives

Nature as a teacher aims at stimulating personal and professional development of Youth workers by experiencing and exploring innovative methods for self-discovery based on modern psychology and ancient nature-based practices.

Specific objectives:
1. Developing attitudes towards nature based youth work;
2. Exploring therapeutic and psychological practices for personal support;
3. Creating pedagogical tools for self-discovery based on eco-centric psychology;
4. Delivering knowledge about eco-centric development and spirituality;
5. Developing competencies to recognize young people’s strong and weak sides, and be open to their vulnerability and personal development;
6. Developing practical skills for planning, organizing and implementation of local workshops for personal development, self-discovery and reconnection with nature.

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

The project Nature as a teacher – eco-centric development in Youth work is funded by the Erasmus + Programme of the European Union. The project is funded through Bulgarian National Agency (HRDC) under the number – 2016-3-BG01-KA105-035201.
25 participants from 10 countries (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Italy, Romania, Estonia, Croatia, Macedonia, Spain and Greece) participated in the project.

Training methods used & main activities

This training course is built around the process of ecocentric development, inspired from the Wheel of Life concept and is aiming at creating an educational frame, which will contribute to the holistic development of youth. During the training process, participants explore and experience a wide variety of concepts such as holistic development, working with vulnerabilities, therapeutic practices, spirituality, connections, rituals and relations with nature. Through this training, we support the participants in exploring these concepts within the context of their personal and professional life.

• Ecocentric and holistic development –exploring and understanding the concept and elements of Wheel of Life/Developmental Wheel and how it can be used in youth work, in order to facilitate authentic development and transition from adolescence to adulthood.
• Vulnerability and therapeutic practices –working with personal limitations, vulnerabilities and expectations (personal, social groups), finding strengths and qualities, being open, accessing inner resources.
• Connection with nature –connecting with nature within, nature without, other people, the outside world (deep ecology), exploring the natural elements (water-earth-air-fire), web of life, nature based methods.
• Spirituality –exploring secret-sacred things, sharing experiences, understanding human spirituality in different cultural backgrounds, exploring rituals and ceremonies.
• Art and Dance as s tools for communication and self-expression – tools for communication and self expression base on dance and art therapy.

• Wheel of Life/Developmental Wheel
• Working with vulnerabilities
• Therapeutic practice
• The Way of Council
• Connecting with nature
• Experiential learning
• Baking bread
• Hero’s Journey
• Fasting
• Solo time in nature
• Sharing, peer-to-peer learning, transferability
• Living as a community (cleaning, cooking etc.)
• Network of ecocentric youth workers

Outcomes of the activity

Outcomes of the training:
- Generated ides for overcoming local challenges.
- Report with summery of the research and recommendations for local development.
- Manual concluding all data collected, knowledge and outcomes of the training.
- Project ideas developed for future implementation.

Your tasks and responsibilities within the team

I was involved sins the creation of the idea of the training, preparation process, applying, implementation and evaluation of the training course. My main roles were - project writer, project coordinator, trainer.

I worked on this training for 8 days as a full time trainer.

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