Parcours le Monde IDF decided to join Connectivity as an opportunity to share expertise with a consortium of skilled European partners on mentoring young adults experiencing difficulties in their life and questions about their future career paths. Additionally, learning through the Connectivity network was seen as a way to acquire new tools to make programs for young people with limited opportunities more efficient and to increase reach with “invisible” audiences.

In the first year, the project started to create new opportunities and horizons for all its participants.  Parcours le Monde IDF enlarged and reinforced its European network, meeting 6 new organizations working in the same field of youth inclusion and employment. Bridges were built towards new partnerships for specific future projects, such as youth exchanges.  

The announcement about the topics of the first training course was well received among the local youth organizations, testament to its relevance and its importance. For Parcours le Monde IDF, this was a step forward in increasing awareness of resources to develop new activities for young people.  During the training, natural networking took place between French participants, with knowledge and experiences shared between experienced youth workers and newcomers. The sharing of good practices, tips, and ideas, and the will of designing projects together, have continued after the training. The Connectivity project concretely connected European and local professionals around one common topic in order to develop a new methodology. 

Depending on their realities, each organization adjusted the content of the training to modify and improve their way of working. As a result, one organization decided to welcome volunteers in a local social center and provide them with a tailored mission based on their interests. Another organization, very impressed by the role of bikes in Dutch society, is planning to take a group of young adults attending the same center for a bike ride to the sea. Another participant is thinking of implementing a skills identification and recognition plan for the volunteers of the eco-recycling center. 

At this stage of the project, Connectivity gathered participants from 7 European countries and gave all of us the opportunity to learn more about youth policies across Europe, to reflect on our way of working, and to implement new tools and methodologies. It facilitated the creation of  new partnerships at a local, national and international level.

Our NGO Europe House Slavonski Brod has decided to organize an eco-action as the first activity of the project. This activity aimed to clean one of the most recognizable places in the city – a small riverside beach with a big 3D image. This place came up to be very popular to young citizens of the town, especially during the night. Also, it is currently used by many as a photo spot.

To get more attention to our action, we have decided to promote it through media, both social and local. The feedback from the general public has been positive, and we hope they have been encouraged to participate in such activities.

We have been accompanied by the students and professors of the Matija Antun Reljković High School. The group managed to clean up the local riverside beach and the area around it. Throughout the activity, we have managed to gather seven big trash bags full of rubbish, most of it being cigarette butts, glass bottles and tin cans, various plastic bags and packaging!

The infamous stereotype that young people are just looking at their tiny screens and typing on their keyboards has proven to be wrong once more. The time that young people invested in this activity seemed to be useful, as the outcome was a clean area in which they could have a good time with their friends.

Our next activity was held out of town. This time, we went to the small village of Mokreš to visit one local family farm. This activity has gathered all our participants for the upcoming September training in Ommen. This outdoor activity was more formal than others, as we were discussing the ways to be involved actively in community life. Aside from that, we have also discussed the (self) employment and various ways to achieve this. In the end, we have tried to compare the opportunities that young people have in urban/rural areas. After the discussion, we have got the tour around the estate and some information about the family business.

In July of 2020, we have held two more outdoor activities. Again, we have been accompanied by our friends at Matija Antun Reljković High School. The first activity was participation in professional student internship and outdoor educational activities held on the agricultural land around the school estate. This land is being cultivated by teachers and students from the school. Throughout the first activity, our aim was to encourage young people to acquire new skills for their personal progress. As businesses need workers who know how to deal with challenges of the green and digital economies, the location we have used seemed to be perfect.

The second activity was focused on green vocations and the ways to increase the interest of young people in these. The group has been gathering blackberries on the school farm. The farm consists of approx 70 hectares of fertile land. After picking, the berries were processed (cleaned) and got ready to be sold. The buyers were informed by our volunteers about the EU and about further opportunities for young people. The students of the school have played a principal role, as they have prepared everything for the activity.

Then, September came, and the long-awaited day when the EHSB team went to Ommen, the Netherlands for the first training (meeting). Five young people have learnt more about outdoor activities and ways of organizing such events. The team has acquired new tools for the implementation of numerous events in nature, and they have gained the courage to approach new challenges as if they are learning opportunities. By learning how indoor activities can adapt to outdoor conditions and ideas, they have gained a high level of independence, creative thinking and good energy. 

Although this is still a relatively new project, its impact is already noticeable. Our members have figured out new ways of implementing (indoor) activities outside. This helped us to adapt to the “new normal lifestyle” with a pandemic around us. Also, the activities gave us a more creative approach when it comes to achieving the common learning goals in our programs. This has also left impact on our participants, especially the frequent ones who got used to our ways of transferring knowledge. By organizing new outdoor activities, especially the eco-actions, the participants have learnt more about nature and how important it is to have a clean community around them. Leaving an impact like that on secondary school students is really important, and now that we have tested the activities and the results that we can create with these, we plan to start implementing them in case of fewer opportunity, unemployed adults as well. During the evaluation, most of our participants appreciated the usage of outdoor activities over indoor ones.

Many activities can be implemented in the local community. It is not easy, but we have succeeded in doing it! We will continue to successfully come up with new ideas and activities. The focus will be set on activities that encourage local communities in being more productive and that support the inclusion and growth of vulnerable target groups (more specifically.. unemployed adults who come from difficult backgrounds). We are happy that we can support our participants in contributing to their own health and to their society as a whole.