A graffiti message created by the participants of 'Value the Difference: Youth Subcultures', Lithuania.
Jeremy Barnett, who works on the Youth in Action programme at the British Council, blogs about a recent training course he took part in where youth leaders and workers from across Europe came together to learn more about working with youth subcultures, to share skills and experience of running international youth projects and discuss future projects .
In late November, SALTO Cultural Diversity (part of the Support and Advanced Learning and Training Opportunities for the Youth in Action Programme) delivered a training course on Youth Subcultures in Vilnius, Lithuania.
In partnership with the Lithuanian National Agency for the Youth in Action Programme and SALTO Inclusion, ‘Value the Difference: Youth Subcultures’ brought together Youth Workers and Youth Leaders from across Europe to reflect, learn and explore more about the topic of Cultural Diversity, specifically working with young people from subcultures.
It was inspiring to see participants – mere strangers to each other on day one – come together and reflect about their own identity and their work with young people from subcultures; to share ideas and experiences amongst each other and use this as a basis to discuss exciting concepts and ideas for future international youth projects. Such was the interest in this, six people from the group actually opted to discuss future projects rather than enjoying some well deserved farewell celebrations on the final evening.
One participant mentioned during the course:
I realised something about myself. Before this course I avoided this question about stereotypes and I know I have them… …and this course enabled me to admit this. From now on, I will always start with a blank slate and give total respect when I meet people from these communities”
One of the many highlights of the event was a visit to a graffiti school on the outskirts of the city. This innovative project provides a safe space for young people on the fringes of society to express themselves and use their creativity in a constructive way.
As part of this visit, participants were tasked to think of a message they wanted to deliver about subcultures and their experiences during the course, and create this message using graffiti (pictured). It was amazing to witness 22 participants from 18 different European Countries unite in the belief that ‘It’s normal to be different’ and work together to create the graffiti message – a true testament to the power of European and International Youth Work.
This course, along with other training courses organised by SALTO and the Youth in Action Programme encourages youth workers and youth leaders to build skills, share experiences and ideas, and develop contacts and networks to increase opportunities for the young people they work with. ‘I’m so impressed with the course and sharing the experiences with others gives me new ideas. These kinds of courses give me inspiration’
You can see more about what happened at ‘Value the Difference’ in Lithuania by watching this video created after the training course. You can also find out more about the work of SALTO Cultural Diversity and the Youth in Action Programme, and the opportunities they offer young people and those that work with young people, by visiting the Youth in Action website and SALTO website and Facebook page.