Project report
Art Included

In November 2023, Youth Progress organized a 9-day Erasmus+ youth exchange for 30 young people, including those with fewer opportunities, from Portugal, Italy, Czech Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina and France

The project Art Included aimed to help them acquire and develop competences, skills and attitudes for their personal and professional life through innovative tools inspired by art, to promote art as a highly efficient tool to empower young people and enhance a more inclusive society, to encourage international and intercultural cooperation, foster tolerance and intercultural awareness, as well as active citizenship in young Europeans. Hereby we are bringing a report with the main points and highlights from the project implementation, creative outcomes from the participants as well as their impressions.

During the initial phases of the project, we had the participants fill in a form to know what are some of the most important skills and competences they wish to acquire during the exchange that are likely to improve their personal and professional situation and some of the most desirable learning outcomes were improving their communication and understanding in English, boosting their confidence and self-awareness, improving and developing creativity, create connections with their international peers and learn about their cultures. 

The program of the youth exchange was therefore designed to involve enough activities where foreign language could be easily  improved in a creative way, but lack of its knowledge was not a barrier – such as theatrical improvisation workshops, music sessions and karaoke, creative drawing and others.

About the youth exchange

The program of the youth exchange was opened with sessions to research and discuss the topics of inclusion and diversity – through presentations, world café discussions and debriefing we would explore the incredible benefits of diverse society, the main obstacles young people face to access their opportunities, and what individuals can do to overcome the specific barriers. We also discussed with the participants the European mechanisms supporting inclusion and the European Inclusion and Diversity Strategy and so created a more complex picture for participants about why inclusive education is important and why we initiated a project about inclusion.

Our next concern was to also find out if the participants fear they would be excluded from the group during the exchange, so we ran an anonymous online poll for everybody and afterwards discussed what was mentioned in the poll by the participants. Language barrier was the main concern that might have excluded the youth from the common activities, which is also why we chose artistic methods at this project to both create a more inclusive and cohesive environment, but also overcome language, socio-economic, cultural and other barriers for the participants who were facing them.

Afterwards, the participants jumped into the practical workshops, mainly theatrical improvisation games, such as One Word at a Time, Why are you late? Genie, Two-headed expert, and more. These games helped the participants improve their self-presentation skills, boost their confidence, eliminate fears, break the barriers and stereotypes and connect🤗. To help break the language barriers, several Silent improv games were also included 🤫.

The evenings belonged to intercultural activities with presentations of the cultures of each participating country, allowing participants to learn about the traditions, history, food, music, games and dances of all the countries involved in the project. Other evenings belonged to board games sessions, music playing, karaoke, and more. The participants even organised a Halloween party with topic-related games for everybody.

In the second half of the youth exchange, we moved on to advanced theatrical exercises, and the participants also took part in show games to prepare for the final theatre performance – the peak and primary outcome of the project. Moreover, towards the eng of the exchange, the participants felt more and more encouraged to contribute to the program with their own activities, keeping in mind that these needed to be inclusive for all.  The participants themselves eventually organized several creative workshops, such as storytelling workshop with a great „speed-dating“ getting to know each other and bonding gama, group drawing workshop, fun newspaper writing sessions at the start of each day, video/photo sessions with wonderful creative outcomes made in teams (see below), outdoor sports activities, dancing sessions, board games and more.

The participants also enjoyed a day off to rest or explore the surroundings of our venue, with some of them even taking a trip to the beautiful city of Prague.

At the end of the exchange, the participants performed in their own improvised theatre show, showcasing what they had learned during the exchange further connecting with each other and creating some unforgettable memories with their new friends.

*We declare that this text only reflects views of the authors, and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use of the information contained therein.

Words of the participants

“It was wonderful and lifechanging experience to come back to roots of the improv and meet so many new and cool people during it. We together tore down language barriers and bonded as unseparable team during amazing workshops and theatre exercises. One of the most extraordinary weeks of my life.”

– Leo (Czech Republic)

This project allowed me to practice my language skills, get out of my comfort zone by reaching out to others, learning from them, and appreciating their cultures and countries. It allowed me to develop my adaptability to change (comfort and food). I was able to meet great people with whom I have kept in touch. I have even more confidence in myself. Today I am much more curious about the world around me and others. 

– Sandia (France)

The project was excellently organized. The teachers were perfectly chosen and the whole experience was more than positive. The people I met on the project are irreplaceable and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to travel and be part of a wonderful team.

– Jelena (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

 

This project meant overcoming fears, leaving our comfort zone, realizing that improvisation is not a big deal, all thanks to the fantastic trainers who always made us feel included and at ease. At the same time, it meant the growth of new friendships from different parts of Europe, with different points of view and visions of the world. It was spectacular.”

– Marta (Portugal)

We had so much fun while learning there; the atmosphere throughout the whole project was the utmost. The organisers of this project were really kind, sweet, and amazing people; they respected us to the utmost, and I recommend wholeheartedly anyone to participate in this project. Thankfully, this project taught me a lot and enabled me to make new connections and befriend new people. If I could go back in time, I would definitely repeat it and apply to this project again.” 

– Lena (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

 

Creative outcomes

Apart from carrying out the final theatre show, the project participants ran a creative session at the youth exchange, where they worked in team to create photos, videos or other artistic outcome with specific topics that were chosen before, such as Inclusion, Trust, Passion and more, though diversity and inclusion remained the key topics for most of the outcomes. We are happy to be able to now share these outcome with you.

 

Are you also thinking of taking part in a similar European activity for young people? Follow us on social media to find out more about what we do, or contact us through e-mail  youth.progressCZ@gmail.com and take your opportunity to become part of the international family!🙂

 

* Hereby we declare that this article expresses only the opinion of its authors and the European Commission is not responsible for the use of the information it contains.

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