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PROJECT SUMMARY

The “Creativity for Digital Communities” project brought together youth workers from Estonia, Slovakia, Greece, and Spain, enabling 24 participants to enhance their digital youth work skills in each of the international training activities. Through the project, guidelines were developed to enable the involved organisations to train additional youth workers for higher-quality digital activities. These materials were also shared in local seminars to extend the knowledge to youth workers beyond the network and to foster discussions on digital youth work. The initiative included various creative mediums and non-formal methods across all activities, with each organisation contributing its professional expertise to offer a comprehensive skill set.

Two international training activities were held: one in Spain focusing on marketing and creativity to enhance visibility among young people, and another in Estonia concentrated on digital tools and online community management. These trainings aimed to address the challenges posed by the global pandemic to the youth sector by providing digital alternatives.

Coordination was facilitated through a transnational kickoff meeting and a final meeting, where youth workers evaluated the project’s impact, planned further activities, and discussed improvements. These meetings also included team-building and social programs to strengthen participant bonds.

The project significantly enhanced the participating organisations’ ability to work on international scale and fostered an international community of youth workers. Unfortunately, the project was severely impacted by the pandemic which made the whole experience significantly more challenging. Despite this, the main objectives of the project were reached.

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PROJECT TIMELINE

June 2021, Estonia

Kickoff!

Online meetings are good and all, but every project needs an in-person kickoff meeting to make plans, teambuild and solve any ongoing issues. This proved to be way more challenging than we expected because the project was severely impacted by the global pandemic. Every in-person meeting carried significant risk. Furthermore, international travel had never been as difficult as it was during the crisis. Despite the numerous challenges, we managed to gather 8 highly motivated youth workers who embarked on this journey together.

The representatives spent 3 days together to plan the next steps for this project, discussed the current needs that the youth workers had in digital youth work and participated in team building activities that helped us develop stronger bonds.

Results:
– Renewed roadmap for the project.
– Delegated tasks and responsibilities between all partner organisations.
– Became a stronger and more motivated team with the help of teambuilding activities.

June 2021, Estonia

    It was the first in-person international activity that we managed to carry out since the start of the pandemic. Kickoff participants together with some additional members of Youth Europa Estonia who joined us for teambuilding.

     Much of the work was done in our youth room in Tartu, but the teambuilding happened while hiking in the pristine nature of Estonia.

July 2022, Estonia

First training activity “Going digital!”

Because of the pandemic, we had to postpone our first youth workers training activity all the way until July 2022 and change the order of the two trainings that had been planned. Even though the pandemic was slowly starting to end, it was still the main thing that caused much of the stress and anxiety. Despite this, we managed to gather 24 youth workers from 4 countries to spend 7 days together learning the technicalities of digital youth work. This training focused on

 

Objectives:
– Exploring the different games and activities that can be carried out for young people in online space.
– Learning to use tools such as Discord to create online communities.
– Figuring out how to make digital activities more engaging and fun for youth.
– Exchanging the ideas, knowledge and experience between participating youth workers.
– Creating the guideline that would help other youth workers become more effective in digital youth work.

July 2022, Estonia

     Slow WiFi made our life much harder, but we still managed to test the different tools and learn how digital youth work can be done.

     Not all of the learning happened inside and behind the laptop…

November 2022, Spain

Second training activity “Reach out!”

The second training session for youth workers was designed to enhance their effectiveness in digital youth work. This was achieved by teaching them how to make their digital activities more engaging and appealing to the young people they support. The workshop offered a blend of creativity and audio-visual skills development. Instructors provided participants with a theoretical foundation before encouraging rapid application of this new knowledge. Youth workers learned to craft impactful campaigns across various social media platforms, create compelling promotional materials (including graphics and videos), and utilize diverse tools to streamline their workflow. Most importantly, they were guided on how to integrate these newly acquired skills into their everyday work.

 

Objectives:
– Explore the social media platforms and the opportunities that they offer for youth workers.
– Learn how to create visually appealing materials that would help youth workers promote their activities.
– Exchange best practices between the youth workers and enable them to learn from each other’s experience.
– Improve the guidelines that were started to create in the previous training activity

November 2022, Spain

     The majority of the workshops encouraged youth workers to collaborate in pairs or small groups. Additionally, there were numerous opportunities for us to share our knowledge and experiences with one another in larger group settings.

     It really seems that hiking was our go-to method of spending time together after the work was done.

March 2023, Greece

Final meeting

This project became a much longer journey than we could have anticipated. Two years flew past very quickly and it was time to have the final meeting of this project. It was hosted by our Greek partner in the city of Thessaloniki. The aim was to reflect and analyze what we had accomplished, but also plan for the future. in general, it was a surreal feeling because our first strategic cooperation project was not really what we had hoped for. Despite all of the challenges, we felt that it was an important initiative and that we had learned so much along the way.

Even though the project was ending, it didn’t mean that our work was finished. It was important to plan the next steps, figure out how to take advantage of the results and develop new initiatives that could benefit the youth workers. Much of the time was also spent giving honest feedback to each other, understanding what could have been better and celebrating the success.

 

Results:
– Analyzed the results and feedback.
– Updated the guidelines for the 99th time.
– Planned 4 new initiatives that could be developed into international projects.
– Disseminated the results of this project to our partners in 6 countries.

March 2023, Greece

     A difficult journey had come to an end. Photo of some of the most active contributors in this project who managed to endure the stress and overcome the numerous challenges.

RESULTS

New guidelines

We developed guidelines for ourselves and other youth workers with the goal of making digital youth work more accessible and assisting youth workers in implementing improvements to keep young people more engaged in their activities. Initially, our plan was to create various guidelines covering different aspects of digital youth work. However, this task became overly complicated due to frequent changes in the tools we were utilizing. As a result, we pivoted to create a modular guideline that addresses the core aspects of online activities. These guidelines have since been integrated into the daily operations of all the organisations involved.

Improved network

This initiative significantly enhanced our capacity for cross-border collaboration on long-term development projects like this one. It represented a major milestone for all organisations involved in the project and within the Youth Europa network. The project aimed to facilitate the exchange of best practices among youth workers, a goal that was successfully achieved.

Trained youth workers

A total of 47 youth workers had the opportunity to participate in both local and international training sessions aimed at improving their digital youth work skills. The in-person activities played an important role in motivating youth workers and leaders to remain committed to the field of youth work and to continue their invaluable initiatives. Each of the two international training sessions hosted 24 participants, with many attending both events. Additionally, each organization conducted smaller-scale training activities for their members at the local level.

Improved motivation

The project injected much-needed momentum into our efforts during the ongoing crisis. The pandemic had severely impacted our activities, leaving each involved organisation struggling to stay active. "Creativity for Digital Communities" inspired us to maintain our digital youth work initiatives while in-person activities were restricted. Once it became possible to conduct in-person activities again, the project facilitated our reconnection with the international youth work community.

MAIN LESSONS

Communication is essential

Even though this project had countless challenges thrown at it, we realized how important it is to communicate with each other as much as possible. The isolation, logistical hurdles and constant changes in plans had a strong negative impact on our mental health, but it was much more tolerable because we kept in touch with each other with the help of online meetings.

Aim for continuous improvement

We saw how there was always something to be improved. Whether it was the program of a training activity or the guidelines themselves, everything was in constant motion. The online and in-person meetings helped us analyze what we were working on and helped us make changes in order to deliver a more impactful project. The needs of the youth workers were also shifting a lot because new tools were adopted or the old tools were changing. It's important to be flexible and stay up to date with the current needs.

Global pandemic made everything more difficult

The global pandemic was one of the main reasons why this project was started, but it was also the main reason behind all of the delays and other challenges along the way. It's no secret that the global health crisis was difficult for many, but we couldn't predict how much stress and pain it would cause for our team. Overall the challenges made us stronger because we worked together to solve difficult situations and found ways to support each other. We learned that we are actually capable of carrying our successful international projects even during the most difficult times.

Deal with burnout

It was the longest and the most complicated international project that we had carried out. It was more difficult due to several ongoing crises which put a significant strain on our team. We had to learn to cope with burnout and other negative surprises along the way. This, however, Increased our capacity and taught us how to manage the bigger, more complicated, projects.

IMPACT IN NUMBERS

*Hover over the numbers for more information. Data as of March 2023.

International participants
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Local participants
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Online engagements
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The project was supported by the Estonian Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps Agency through the Erasmus + program! ❤

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission Erasmus+ programme. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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