Youth mental health workshop
On Thursday 30 June, I facilitated a workshop for the first time in my life.
This is the first year that I am moving into this world on an interactive level. The fact is that until now I have only ever written E+, ESC and YPA projects. This is because I found out about European programmes at the end of 2019. In March 2020 I was supposed to go to Spain for my first youth exchange. As a student of International Relations and Human Rights, 2020 was going to be my dream year, at least one exchange per month.
Instead, we all know how that 2020 went. And maybe not everyone wants to remember what the pandemic, the lockdown left imprinted in the memory of us all. I remember well that in Italy all the schools and universities were immediately closed, and over the months there were debates and government orders to open them, close them, distance learning. When it all started I was 25, almost 26, I was in my final year of my master’s degree and by then I felt I was already out of this world. Yet I kept asking myself: how are the kids?
Childhood is a time of discovery, adolescence is a time of hardships, evolution, overcoming limits, and what about the crazy years as a university freshman? What did these periods mean for those who were forced to spend them cooped up indoors? Man, it shocked me every time I thought about the impact of this event on boys.
Yet I too am a girl and I had to accept to close my wings for a while. But finally we get to 2022, there are just too many disasters, so let’s all at least try to get rid of the restrictions. It is April when I am in Serbia to do a training course on youth mental health, especially after the pandemic. How I longed for this course. And I was not disappointed, methods and experience in themselves were revolutionary.
And so I find myself in June here in Baia Mare among 13 ESC volunteers. They come from half of Europe, but also Egypt, Mongolia and Turkey. They are between 19 and 27 years old. What better opportunity to find out how young people are doing post-pandemic?
After a couple of energizer activities, I introduced the talk on Covid-19, about how it affected on everyone’s lives. I had the participants walk around the room with music playing in the background and then when I interrupted it they first had 4, then 2, finally less than 1 minute to tell how they experienced the first lockdown to the person closest to them.
In the second activity, I divided them into two groups and had them perform a group home scene of what they did most during that time. Each one of them told their position to the group. This part was playful. Lastly, I let them show how they perceived personal spaces during the pandemic and afterwards, using paper tape, and had them enter half the room into each other’s personal spaces. And finally reflection together.
I really liked how they all opened up, but especially how they were able to mix depth and humour in their final reflections. This gives me hope that the new generations have a lot of resilience and are using it all to move forward and build a future for themselves despite the difficulties of today’s world.