Between the 31st of August and the 8th of September, we had the pleasure to participate in the Digital Youth Work training course in Bansko, Bulgaria. From YMCA Romania we were six youth workers super motivated to increase our competencies in an intercultural context and co-create innovation labs to improve the intellectual Outputs of the #AlwaysOn for Youth Project. Focused on empowering the young people by using our values, our main goal of this training was to return with our backpacks full of new digital tools and knowledge about digital communication, content creation, safety, inclusion, and digital wellbeing. In total we were thirty youth workers from different EU countries, with different age groups and experience backgrounds, which was one of the many advantages of this training.
The first day, we started with team-building activities to get to know each other. Energizer games about our passions, “Mission impossible tasks” and human library gave us the chance to work together and to build trust. These activities prepared us for the following days in the most significant way. The following day we participated in different activities about digital inclusion, safety, and wellbeing. The day started with a game of cases, in which we were moving in the room according to our agreement or disagreement. We also had the option the stay in the middle of the room if we couldn’t decide. The on-point reflection questions at the end of the activity, help us clear any misunderstandings we had about digital youth working and its importance. After the cases, we analyzed the DigComp 2.2 Framework for Citizens. We cooperated and arranged the elements of the DigComp conceptual reference model. At the end, we were presented their correct order and had a debate about the reasons why, following by the Verke test, in which we could evaluate our digital knowledge.
During the afternoon, our main topic was the digital wellbeing. We implemented face-to-face 10 questions interviews related to our mental and physical health while using digital tools and devices. One of the common conclusions of those interviews was the digital fatigue and the need of digital balance especially during the pandemic. The next day was mainly related to our target audience as youth workers, the youth. We started by creating and presenting theatre plays about the habits, the attitude, and the challenges of the youngsters, so it would be easier for us to understand how they feel and what they want. In this way, we could adapt a digital tool that fit their needs. Some of the tools that we practiced were Google Jamboard, Mentimeter, Padlet, Trello, Gathertown, Wordwall, Slack, Genially, Slides Carnival, Lumen5 and Slido.
The fourth day was a relaxing one. We had the chance to explore Bansko by using Actionbound. Wealso visited the mountain nearby and connected with the nature to be ready for the demanding following day. The next day participated to the Innovative Laboratory. We were divided into groups according to the project ideas we had. We based our projects structure on the Design Thinking Model (Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test). We were also paying attention to follow the Digital Safety practices questionnaires that we were provided by the facilitators. In the group that I participated; we created a series of workshops based on Don Hellison’s model. Our projects name was “Road to 5, a caring project”. We combined face-to-face activities with digital elements in the most interactive way and the next day we practiced those tools within the group. The feedback that we received was a positive one. During the afternoon of the same day, we were presented by the organizers the MOOC course and the Gamification Pack. We chose in which workshop we would like to participate, and we tested, and we gave feedback. The last day, we participated in an open event on Digital Youth Work – Digital Youth Work Summit- with guests and into workshops made by other participants with topics such as Human Rights in Digital Youthwork, Media Literacy and Fake news, Re-photography using Ajapaik platform etc.
If we could describe this whole training experience in one word that would be “Unforgettable”. The things we learnt, the people we met, everything in a perfect balance between the wild nature of the mountains around us and the topic of the activities. But what mattered the most, was that we were able to develop the maximum outcomes by using a blended environment and we can’t wait the apply everything we learnt for future projects.
Our colleague Dana also mentioned:
The experience in Bansko helped me reconnect with other youth workers, people passionate about helping the community and reminded me how awesome it is to work in this field. I have met great people that taught me, from their personal experiences, how to address issues in a different manner and how to look at things from a different perspective. In terms of learning objectives, I feel like I have gained so much knowledge about what digital youth work is and how to implement it in my community – from the tools and methods to actually working on a project to use the instruments taught in the training. The most important elements that I learnt during the training are about the DigComp 2.0 – the digital competence framework for citizens, that offers a tool to improve citizens’ digital competences (very detailed and comprehensive) and about wellbeing in the online environment. Taking care of yourself is a top priority if you want to be able to take care of others. I believe that, as youth worker, I need to be prepared and understand the fast-changing informational space around me to be able to support young people through their journey and this training became a platform of connections, knowledge and experiences that allows me to better myself both as a person and as a youth worker. I’m glad I was a part of this training and I definitely recommend it to any youth worker interested in learning more about digital youth work!