The first step: eco-action

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 has become very popular among the young citizens of our 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 managed to gather seven big trash bags full of rubbish, most of them 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 meeting 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 (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 got a tour of the estate and some information about the family business.

In July 2020, we held two more outdoor activities. Again, we have been accompanied by our friends at Matija Antun Reljković High School. The first activity was the following: participation in professional student internship and outdoor education 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 the challenges of 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 was 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 learned 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 be adapted 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 an 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 learned 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 unemployed adults with fewer opportunities 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.