This month in Athens, PYE worked with refugee communities for the first time. With partner ELIX, devoted to active promotion of voluntary service and civic engagement in Greece and beyond, PYE led a special practitioner training (see gallery below) followed by a pilot youth camp for refugee children, six to 12 years of age. The training prepared a passionate team of ELIX facilitators and volunteers who are now leading a summer-long series of youth camps, full of creative expression, arts empowerment activities, and precious opportunities for play.
Isabel Ferreira, an ELIX volunteer from Portugal says of the youth camps, which are taking place in an Athens school, “Five hours takes all your energy and transforms it into a fulfilled heart. This school serves the exact purpose of giving these children a free environment to be creative, explore, make friends, and learn.”
According to UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency) data from July 2016, there have been almost 160,000 refugee arrivals in Greece so far this year and 38% of them are children. Isabel says, “I see miracles every single day here. Knowing that so many of the refugees are children, it increases even more my sense of urgency towards these people. The opportunity cost of having these refugees stuck here is too high to be human.”
Jamaican Youth Come Together to Celebrate Bob’s Vision of Peace & Love
This week, over 50 young people from across Kingston and St Ann will come together at the One Love Youth Camp to ignite their creative skills and promote Bob Marley’s vision of peace, love and social equality. The camp takes place in Bob’s home parish of St Ann, and is the result of a sweet partnership between the Bob Marley Foundation, Partners for Youth Empowerment (PYE) and ice cream makers Ben & Jerry’s.
The One Love Youth Camp returns for its third installment, to give young people of Jamaica the chance to stir up their own take on Bob Marley’s most iconic songs, and learn how to use music, dance and arts to respond challenges in their lives and break down barriers. The camp is facilitated by 25 local teachers and facilitators, who have been through an intensive Creative Facilitation training process that gives them the skills and resources to use the arts to help young people to reach their full potential.
Whether you are opening a program or need to address challenging issues with a group, start on a positive note. This builds a field of good feeling that gives participants the courage to stretch themselves or embark on dealing with difficult issues.
Here are a few ways to build a yes atmosphere when you’re opening a new group… Continue reading
With partner Elisa Sednaoui Foundation (ESF), PYE recently took the Creative Community Model to Italy for the first time! After a Creative Facilitation training for adult staff, we helped run an incredible ESF Creative Learning Workshop for 140 diverse youth.
Workshop facilitators, including PYE Lead Facilitator Silvia Giovannoni Webster and freelance dance artist Julia Pond, were amazed by the deep level of sharing and increased emotional awareness shown by the young people. Julia observed that youth seem to have limited opportunities to talk about their inner life, despite strong families ties. Continue reading
“IndigenEYEZ is medicine for relationships,” says Program Director Kelly Terbasket. IndigenEYEZ is also a PYE partner, and one of the most powerful applications of our Creative Community Model that we’ve seen.
After more than 20 years managing community projects, Kelly co-founded IndigenEYEZ to heal First Nations communities by inspiring an intergenerational legacy of well-being among Aboriginal people in BC, Canada and elsewhere. Kelly has Syilx and European roots, and lives in her family’s ancestral home in the south Okanagan Valley.
Kelly explains what drives her: “I feel and have lived the results of colonization and residential schools. I experience the fragmentation of communities, families, and nations on a daily basis.” Continue reading
Amid political and economic upheaval in Egypt, the Elisa Sednaoui Foundation (ESF), in partnership with PYE, is making a big difference for young people in Luxor.
Though still a world-renowned travel destination rich in antiquities, Luxor’s tourism dollars have dropped sharply and sent unemployment soaring. Says Kasia Skuratowicz, the ESF’s Senior Education Director: “Local communities are deeply isolated. Spaces for freedom of expression and creative learning are extremely limited. There is a crucial need for programs that support the development of life skills such as communication, empathy, project development, analytical thinking and self confidence, especially in an engaging, fun way.”
ESF responds to this need with creative learning programs that foster leadership and change making through playful cultural exchange and life skill development. “We encourage youth to think creatively about their own needs and those of their communities. And then, step by step, we work on translating needs into action through youth and community projects,” says Kasia. Continue reading
The PYE team and Board of Directors are thrilled to announce, after a long search that brought forth many incredible candidates, our new Executive Director, PYE US: Carmen Forsman! We are also very pleased to share that Gwyn Wansbrough, formerly our amazing Managing Director, has accepted a new role as Executive Director, PYE UK.
Born in Mexico, Carmen spent her early years traveling the world, living in Europe, North Africa, and Latin America, while being homeschooled by her parents, both professional artists. She brings to PYE over 15 years of experience in International Business Development Strategy and Execution in the private sector with Fortune 100 companies, as well as in the public sector with large international non-governmental organizations. She was inspired to work in international business following her time as a Peace Corps volunteer, focusing on small business in Latin America. She has served as a Director of Private Equity investment for Boeing’s Phantom Works, where she managed an international portfolio of over $35M, and as a Director of International Business Development at AT&T Wireless, where she drove the entry strategy for the Caribbean region. Most recently, Carmen was a Senior Commercialization Officer for PATH, a global health organization, where she developed and implemented market-driven, sustainable business models in SE Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Why learn people’s names? A recent workshop participant responded aptly, “Because when someone calls you by name, it’s a sign that they care about you.” And isn’t this the message we want to project when we facilitate? We believe that anyone can learn lots of names quickly with some intention and a bit of ingenuity. Here are some tips:
- Review your list of participants prior to the program. Notice any connections you can make, like who comes from the same location as you.
- If you have a name tag table, join in as participants are working on their creations. See how many names you can put to faces.
- Once the program begins, talk about how calling one another by name will create a sense of community in the group. Give everyone the permission to ask each other’s names, even up to the last moments of the program.
- Early on in your program, when participants address the whole group, ask them to say their name before they speak.
- As you get to know names, call people by name during whole group sessions. Don’t be afraid of making a mistake. It’s a good opportunity to model vulnerability.
- Lead name games as part of your community building and join in the games. Choose name games that use memory enhancers like rhythm, repetition, and association.
Be prepared to surprise yourself by how readily you can remember all of the names in your group, and notice the powerful effect it has on building a safe atmosphere for self-expression.
For more tips, and details about our Creative Community Model, check out PYE’s book, Catch the Fire: An Art-Full Guide to Unleashing the Creative Power of Youth, Adults, and Communities.
As Greece endures sustained economic crisis, compounded by an influx of refugees, we are pleased to be part of a movement to forge a new way forward. Together with partners like Ashoka Greece, SEN Junior Achievement Greece, and innovative educators and schools, we are helping to transform education and ignite a generation of changemakers.
PYE’s trainings reached over 100 teachers in Greece in 2015, and more are planned this year. Says PYE’s Managing Director Gwyn Wansbrough, who is spearheading our efforts across Europe, “It’s been interesting incredible to see how ready teachers are to do things differently. They keep telling us that this is exactly what Greece needs right now.”
Athens teacher Nikoleta Foti is a perfect example. Just a few weeks after her training, she reported, “I have already implemented many tools. My students wrote poems, performed, played ‘magic word’ and ‘yes…and’ and they loved it. I loved it too because I found out that ‘weak’ and ‘indifferent’ students not only participated but stood up and even found the answers. Their voices were finally heard!”
Looking for a good way to counter the jitters that can come when leading a group? Try developing a daily practice that teaches your body how to relax. One of our favorites is the 4-7-8 breath recommended by integrative medicine doctor Andrew Weil.
This breathing exercise has a natural tranquilizing effect. Practice it a few times a day and you might be surprised to find yourself more relaxed when you are leading a group. Click here to learn the the 4-7-8 breath plus two other activities.