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Volunteering Promote Goodness – A strategic EVS project focused on emphazising non-formal learning and raising the awareness about EVS and its values.

The wish to carry out this project was due to the fact, that there is a favourable environment in Europe that makes this not only possible but also desirable as shown by the fact that a growing number of stakeholders from various sectors intends to take advantage of the potential of NFL (non-formal learning). But there are still many people, who don´t know that EVS is good method for using formal and non-formal education and they are not aware of value of EVS and opportunity to participate in it.

This is not only emphasised by the growing attention of youth-targeting programmes (such as YiA and now E+) but also by our own experience. During a needs assessment exercise with returnee volunteers we identified a whole set of skills that their experience brought about. In particular: Global awareness; Adaptability; Interpersonal skills; Delegation capacity; Stress management; Self-confidence; Problem solving; Self-learning capacity; Strategic thinking etc.

In spite of this, links between youth organisations and other actors (i.e. government structures and labour market forces) are still scarce. This is possibly due to the lack of mechanisms to acknowledge and take advantage of inter-sectorial synergies and has emerged as a priority of our partners in the course of our growing collaborations.

Therefore, there was this wish to create an inspiring international environment for Estonia people in order to promote purposeful participation in lifelong learning and contribution to a community on the way of personal development in the global world.

EstYES was targeting the following strategic aims and objectives during the project:

  • To raise an awareness of value of EVS and opportunity to participate in it in Estonia county through increasing number of organisations working with EVS;
  • to raise an awareness of value of EVS and opportunity to participate in it amongst the organisations and youth;
  • to raise an awareness of European Solidarity Corps;
  • to increase the number of EVS accredited organisations and sending Estonia youth to EVS
  • To increase a capacity of EstYES NGO to coordinate, receive and send EVS volunteers
  • to create a systematic and structured new approach to service delivery in order to optimize work with all parties – volunteers, ROs, SOs, supervisors, mentors – involved into EVS;
  • to improve our competence of preparation and supporting EVS volunteers with fewer opportunities during the service with the help of supervision;
  • To create prerequisites for social inclusion of young people with fewer opportunities into EVS
  • to strengthen partnership with international organisations working with young people with fewer opportunities.

Our volunteers within this project did a great job with the promotion and raising awareness of the programmes. They shared their culture and information in the youth centres, education fairs and events, schools and kindergartens, among the parents and teachers. EstYES was also meeting with their partners to develop their collaboration and made agreements with new interested organisations. Collaboration was made with a few organisations who are supporting the youngsters with fewer opportunities.

The project is funded by the Archimedes Foundation Youth Agency from the Erasmus + program.

EVS volunteer Anne: Expanding the senses with Barefoot Path

EVS volunteer Anne: Expanding the senses with Barefoot Path

Our EVS volunteer Anne Schiffers has been a role model for many others, making her voluntary service meaningful and impactful. This spring she decided to create her own initiative project and build a Barefoot Path in Uuemõisa Kodu. Read more where she got the idea and how through cooperation she made it happen:

“The idea haunted me for quite a while. Since my on-arrival-training to be accurate. When we were cross-county-skiing at the mid-term evaluation training, I was still thinking about it. I wanted to do something very profane: to make the inhabitants of the institution for people with special needs, where I work as a volunteer, to go more barefoot. I wanted them to experience different materials in a new way, to improve their posture and feel their body parts. Additionally, I wanted to give them a long-lasting event where they can learn new skills. I also aimed at the spread of knowledge about people with special needs. The overall goal is always to reduce prejudices. 

To combine all these ideas we built at Uuemõisa Kodu a 30m long barefoot path consisting of 13 different materials. We spent five days building it. And many more ahead, collecting the material for it. In terms of the pine cones the collecting was very literal. Local companies donated us the material and we also reclaimed a lot. I found a construction site in Haapsalu and arranged with the owner that we could use the things they would throw away anyway. Now we walk on wood from an old house by the sea, rocks from an employees garden, moos out of the beautiful Estonian forests… 

Barefoot paths are very common in Germany. With the kindergarten, holiday camps and my family and friends I went to barefoot parks, which were sometimes a few kilometers long. The favorite part was obviously the mud pond. In the end, we were covered from top to bottom with mud and our neuron endings in our feet had also a good amount of stimulation on those days. With my initiative project, I wanted to bring barefoot paths to Estonia as well, and make people think about the way we usually walk. 

I promoted the project with posters in Haapsalu and online. A newspaper article about the planned project also helped to spread the word about it. In the end, 19 volunteers came to help to build the barefoot path. The majority of them had never been at Uuemõisa Kodu before, nor knew where this place is situated. For some, it was also the first time to meet people with special needs. I got the feedback that it was very enriching for the helpers. They were building together with our clients and for them. Without all the voluntary help and the generous donators this project would not have been achievable. 

During the building days we laughed a lot, worked hard, but most importantly, exchanged experiences. The project now results in many steps barefoot and hopefully encourages future steps towards a more open-minded society with fewer prejudices and instead more collaborations.”

At the opening a journalist also made a small video about it.  

Anne is doing her service within the project Volunteering in Social Projects II, which is funded by the Erasmus+ European Voluntary Service program.

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