YOUreSTART! users share their experiences – part 1

The covid-19 pandemic brought radical changes in the way we view human interaction. In its wake, there has been a revision of the terms on which people have the opportunity to gather, interact, cooperate, communicate and work under common purposes. There was a suspension of creativity, which naturally affected social life considerably and paralyzed it. On the other hand, efforts are being made to transform these constraints into an opportunity for social coexistence in a way that promotes creative participation in activities that will provide an opportunity to meet young people’s inner needs. In this way, the YOUreSTART! programme finds its place in a map of efforts and comes to contribute in terms of creativity and inclusiveness.

The YOUreSTART! programme aims to strengthen the interaction between the youth workers involved in the field of culture, art and creativity by constructing an interactive platform for exchanging experiences, knowledge and methodologies that are useful in order to transform the aforementioned restrictions into productive work. This exchange is targeted into creating a heritage of shared skills and practices for the development of entrepreneurial initiatives in the field of art and culture including an innovative use of digital technology. In that direction the programme includes the creation of digital tools (Toolkit and Repository) that will support the youth workers’ actions.

A brief tour of the platform reveals the existence of a multitude of educational tools that touch on different topics. The tools included have themes such as: art, creativity, inclusion, self-perception, self-awareness, group dynamics, communication and, in general, the creation of experiences useful for social participation and action. The accessibility that characterizes the platform creates the right conditions for the progressive development of pluralism, an essential element in the democratic social interactions of young people. Only under these conditions can the tools offered on the platform work successfully.

It is important to focus on some key issues included in the platform’s toolbox and to carry out a mapping of the relevant tools on offer. The main theme that touches almost all the activities offered is art and creativity. Art has the potential to bring to the surface concerns and experiences that young people need to express and communicate with others. Through creative activities, such as those in the toolkit, they have the opportunity to practice active listening and communication skills, to cultivate their innovative thinking and to function as part of a whole without degrading themselves as a unit. All tools are imbued with the principle of inclusion. Every young person has the right to be heard equally, to communicate their concerns and to find support when they need it. In this way, the dynamics of the group are strengthened and a climate of solidarity and support is built. 

The YOUreSTART! platform is capable of contributing to a general effort to change and transform the experiences of the pandemic into opportunities for creative coexistence under a common goal and framework of action. Personal and collective development is central to the program with connection and communication acting as pathways in this direction.

Written by Ioannis Karoumpalos

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