Author: Anu Ipatti

Youth cycling and recycling in Ghent

Youth cycling and recycling in Ghent

The idea behind CONNEXT for inclusion project is to empower and motivate migrants and refugees. In order to get a good start, we wanted to share best practices and see how the project partners are working on the topic. So, after two days of theoretical brainstorming and S_U+G Serious Urban Game® training, we got on our feet and went to see how problems like social exclusion of youth and school dropouts are tackled in practice in Ghent.

Our first stop was the organization called vzw aPart . In their De Werf workshop we saw how youngsters’ sense of belonging can be increased by encouraging them to create their own space. This was carried out by letting them to furnish and decorate their own meeting place by using different recycled materials.

The same idea was also followed in our next location, an organization called Groep INTRO  . There the youngsters had refurbished and styled an old caravan to be their own “hang out” place. In the same compound they also had a bicycle repair shop and bicycle riding lessons were carried out on the yard.

 

While these organizations are implementing a whole bunch of other really important activities like group and individual tutoring, workshops and counselling too, the first mentioned examples are still small things that can have a big influence to an individual. For example, learning to ride a bicycle can significantly open young girl’s world. Not to mention what it can do to her self-esteem when she is able to move around more freely by using the popular mode of transportation of her new country.

So, let’s not forget that small things can lead to something big. All connections start with an encounter, which is a central element also in CONNEXT.

Text and pictures: Karoliina Zschauer-Lilja, Stadin ammatti – ja aikuisopisto (vocational education), Finland