“Empowering Youth Through Sports: Insights from the ‘YOU SHOULD STAY!’ Project Meeting”
The first in-person meeting of the “YOU SHOULD STAY!” project took place in Siderno from December 5th to 8th, 2022. Thanks to the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, the associations ASD YMCA Siderno, Federatia YMCA Romania, and ETNA learned new tools to raise awareness about the benefits of sports practice during adolescence and combat sports dropout.
The meeting was divided into three phases. In the first phase, the participants were divided into four groups, each tasked with inventing four sports team-building activities to discover new, original, and inclusive training methods.
Next, a project presentation was conducted, utilizing slides to address the themes of adolescence, sports dropout, and the role of the Youth Worker. To focus on the latter, participants were asked to record a video discussing the characteristics of a good youth worker.
In the final phase, the participants were divided into two groups. The first group created an analysis sheet for their community, aiming to understand the problems it faced. This served as a valuable tool for community assessment. The second group designed two sports role-playing games to encourage the participation of all young people involved in the sports activities.
To create the four sports team-building activities, each group named the activity, identified participants, described the objectives, listed required materials, established rules, and provided feedback. For example, “The Ball of Trust” involves 20 or more players and aims to foster bonds between participants, help them feel comfortable discussing their problems, and emphasize that they are not alone. The materials required are a ball or a Frisbee, and the rules involve forming a circle, sharing personal issues, and passing the ball among participants who share similar problems, leading to a discussion of common issues and the acceptance of one’s feelings. The feedback indicates that participants will realize they are not alone and find ways to accept themselves as they are.
The presentation and explanation phase of the project began by listing the specific objectives that contribute to the overall goal of supporting sports associations and educators in preventing adolescent sports dropout through the “You should stay!” method. The presentation included data on dropout rates and their causes, distinguishing between internal factors related to personal dissatisfaction and lack of motivation, and external factors that do not necessarily deter engagement in sports. Furthermore, the differences between puberty and adolescence were explained, highlighting the somatic changes, formation of identity, and the role of family and peer groups. The presentation concluded by introducing the role of the youth worker, who facilitates the learning and personal and social development of young people, enabling them to become autonomous and responsible citizens through active participation and inclusion in their communities.
To promote non-formal educational methods and engage participants in all aspects of the project, they were divided into three groups and asked to record two videos each, discussing the six most important skills they believed a youth worker should possess.
In the third and final phase of the meeting, the participants were divided into two groups. The first group created a community analysis sheet for both under 16 and over 16 age groups. Community analysis is crucial as it serves as a process of change, actively involving community members and utilizing available resources. The second group devised two sports role-playing games to encourage the involvement of all young people participating in sports activities.
The first activity, called “Concert!”, involves 15 or more participants and aims to build trust among the group by forming three rows, sitting closely together with arms extended upwards. One participant then runs towards the group and jumps to be carried to the end.
The second sports role-play is called “The Animals Run” and can be performed by 10 or more people. The objective is to increase camaraderie and enjoyment.