A couple of weeks ago, specialists working with young people, educators, coaches, as well as young people themselves gathered together at the rowing base of OC “Limbaži”, because the results of the Erasmus+ project “Mobile Program For Youth Learners” co-funded by the European Union were presented to a wider audience at the conference. The project has created a non-formal education program for developing youth leadership skills, motivation, responsibility and sense of belonging. The program includes 39 specific lesson plans that organizations and institutions in the fields of education, culture, sports, religion and other whose work is related to young people can use in their daily work as methodical material for promoting the mentioned skills.
Opening the conference, the project leader Sandija Zaļupe admitted that the idea for creating the leadership program came from observing the growth of the children herself: “Since I have a pedagogical education, I led Sunday school classes for children in Krimulda Evangelical Lutheran congregation for several years. My children also attended them. They grew from children to young people, and I realized that a completely different, much broader approach was needed in the creation of lessons, which would be able to open up teenagers, help them believe in themselves, become confident, motivated, safe and courageous, while taking responsibility. In addition, the methodology should be one that can be used when working with young people not only in religion, but also in other spheres.”
Addressing the teenagers present, Anna Poindere, the chairwoman of the Limbaži County Entrepreneurs’ Consultative Council and a member of the board of SIA “Ķipēnu muiža”, emphasized the importance and role of a leader in society: “Leaders are not always very visible personalities, but at different historical stages they have been like keys in shaping our future.” A. Poindere actively involved young people in the discussion “What is leadership and what does it promote?”, encouraging young people to develop an understanding of leadership.
13-year-old Aleksa Zaļupe proved her leadership skills at the conference. She shared her experience of both the benefits of the Sunday school lessons, where she learned to communicate with others and express her opinion, as well as the “honing” of her leadership skills in various activities of this project. She also led the psychological role-playing game “Mafia”, which made the gathered move, helped them get to know each other and put themselves in different roles. S. Zaļupe confirmed that such games and public mobilization activities under the leadership of young people allow them to train and gain self-confidence when they are in front of a wider audience.
The closing conference of the project was attended online by the project partner – social research expert Celia Marsen, teachers from St. Gabriel’s School from Spain and representatives of the Romanian Scout Society. They expressed their joy that they had the opportunity to be part of the implementation of such an important idea for teenagers, and acknowledged that there has already been interest in the developed program from organizations in their countries. It should be reminded that the program is made in four languages – Latvian, English, Romanian and Spanish, which makes it available outside the borders of Latvia as well.
Those present at the event could not get bored and relax for a single moment, as they had to carefully listen to the narration about the progress of the project and keep various details in mind in order to be able to answer the questions. The owners of the sharpest ears, best memories and sharpest minds received prizes for correct answers. Likewise, the young people present each shared the values that are important in their lives. The answers were varied, for some the most important thing is joy, for some – peace, for others – love and trust. These and other values are included in the curriculum of the leadership program. S. Zaļupe invites everyone who works with young people and wants to encourage them to improve, to look at the “Results” section of the project website www.mopyl.eu. There you can find not only the mentioned methodical materials, but also a large-scale study of young people’s essential values, attitudes towards themselves and others, relationships with peers and family, on the basis of which the study plans have been developed.
The project “Mobile Program for Youth Learners” is financed with the support of European Commission’s programm “Erasmus+”. This publication reflects only the author’s views, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained there in.