The European Year of Volunteering Dream Team - An ENGSO Youth reflection on 2011: Volunteering, Sports and Non-Formal EducationLet's imagine a Europe where all young people actively participate in and physically contribute to society. Would this not just be the Dream Team European Volunteer Culture, in a healthy mind and body?
Let us take a look at reality...
Sport (the environment, the context): In the world of sport, on the mass participation club level; sport does not exist without volunteers. This is not just a statement, it is fact. Whether it is a young person becoming an assistant coach, refereeing the younger group's games, whether, it is parents coaching sessions, parents driving their children to games, all the way to decision makers in the field; they are for the majority volunteers.
The individual (you, us): Although volunteering is often considered as a "selfless activity" which promotes good for others and its surrounding community it cannot be neglected that individuals often volunteer because the opportunity lies in front of them (they are asked), this is often followed by a realisation that they can make a difference, they can contribute, they have a role. This experience in turn, often leads to the realisation that not only do they have a sense of belonging and contribute they in turn also benefit by learning, developing skills, experience etc...
Here volunteering benefits the individual on two levels: the individual self and the surrounding local reality. We have active participation, we have physical activity, we have volunteering, what we are missing is, the European dimension, the exchange of these diverse experiences from which we can learn and transfer ideas, what we are also missing is spreading this movement further... How can this self-sufficient pool of young volunteers benefit Europe? How can it be taken further? How can the potential for education which is already present in the trans-generational system of volunteering, taking on responsibilities be pushed further? Can the experience of these various young individuals make an even greater difference? In volunteering eventhough we learn a lot and are possibly empowered in and through this role and experience, we may not necessarily see any further, how this can apply to another field, how we can take it further, how we as an individual can make a difference...
Looking at Youth for youth by youth solutions;
To develop more volunteers using all volunteers? Yes.
In using Sport as a tool to reach out and attract? Yes.
With a vision of Education? Yes.
On European level? Yes.
Using Non-Formal Education? Definitely.
European youth exchanges and trainings offer this opportunity and possibility requires even more volunteering, commitment, energy, engagement, motivation from the volunteers. This year ENGSO Youth with the support of the EYCB (European Youth Centre Budapest) of the Council of Europe, to focus on bringing together young individuals involved in inclusion of people with and without disabilities in and through sports. This session was led by volunteers, the participants were either volunteers or working with volunteers in their local reality, and for this entire week they were volunteering their time. For their own development, in order for them to go back and have a wider impact in their local reality through their engagement in providing access in and through sports...and empowered they were, and ideas they created and multipliers they have become. It has now been two weeks since the end of the session and already a publication for other leaders is coming out, they have already planned another 4 meetings, applied for funds for another European exchange and all this as volunteers.
Our "last event" for 2011 during this European Year of Volunteering has taught us the close relation and the motivations between; education, for youth, by youth, with youth in short, peer education and volunteering.
Sport is attractive to numerous groups possibly inaccessible otherwise, through this combined with volunteering peer education, we can empower youth and make a difference towards the creation of the "Dream Team European Volunteer Culture", in a healthy mind and body.
Karine Teow, ENGSO Youth Vice Chair
To find out more about ENGSO Youth activities, visit our website http://www.youth-sport.net