«Finding N.E.M.O. _Natural & EnvironMental Orientation» is an Erasmus+ Youth Exchange program, coordinated by youth association ‘Youth Horizons’ and co-funded by Εuropean Commission & I.NE.DI.VI.M. The activity took place in Megara, Greece on 18-25 November 2016 and was conducted by 32 participants and 8 group leaders from 8 European countries (Lithuania, Italy, Poland, Spain, Croatia, Turkey, Germany, Greece), who mainly live in big cities, experience daily the fast-paced life and are deprived of the benefits of nature. With main core the ‘Healthy Mind in Healthy Body’, participants had the opportunity to ‘escape’ for 8 days in a diverse natural environment, to recognize and identify their need for well-being and learn how to follow a healthy life style through the experiential process of ‘Outdoor Education’.
The youngsters, through their active participation in activities surrounded by the benefits of natural environment, recognized and identified their need for well-being and intensified their physical activation (participation in olives harvest, study-visit in local oil-press, travelogue in the megarian olive-grove, discovery of the host city during a City Game, hiking, horse riding, archery, Flashmob rehearsals, energizers, warm-up activities etc.). During the ‘Finding my psychosomatic balance’ session, and under the guidance of a professional psychologist, received advices on how to find the balance between spirit and body and how to regulate daily issues and obligations through an experiential way. Additionally, they discovered the dietary habits of each country while receiving nutritional advices from a professional nutritionist. There were also exchanged good environmental-protection practices of each involved country, focusing on the protection of water resources and on recycling activities.
Special benchmark of the activity was the joint implementation of the ‘No Hate’ Flashmob in the center of Athens at Monastiraki Square, in the framework of ‘No Hate Speech Movement’ campaign by Council of Europe, in which participants sent their own message against the hate speech, racism, xenophobia, intolerance of diversity and urging at the same time the adoption of more solidarity behaviors.
The followed methodology was based on the principles of Non formal/ Informal Education and its tools (such as learning to participate, peer learning, intercultural dialogue, study-visits, role-playing, ice-breakers, energizers, name games etc.) focusing on the ‘Outdoor Education’.
The Youth Exchange aims at:
- Encouraging young people to learn how to search for the benefits of nature and turn them in advantage
- Understanding the importance of following a healthy lifestyle in: – personal level (spiritual euphoria, seeking of physical and mental well-being, setting goals and priorities, making decisions and controlled risks, language skills improvement, creativity, time management, consistency , compliance with rules etc.)/ – interpersonal level (social integration, cooperativeness, team spirit, respect of diversity, solidarity, environmental consciousness, development of environmental/ social/ cultural/ political concerns etc.)
- Bringing participants in contact with Non formal/Informal Education and its tools (learning to participate, peer learning, working groups etc.)
- Encouraging the active participation in activities of ‘Outdoor Education’ that awaken body and spirit
- Development and strengthening of the sense to feel ‘European citizen’ and owing ‘European identity’, Improvement of lingual skills through multicultural coexistence
- Promotion of ‘Erasmus+’ to participants who in the sequel by acting as multipliers, will promote its benefits to the local communities.
- Promoting the multicultural coexistence that cultivates solidarity, respect of diversity, awareness of the role of each individual in society and the urge for active citizenship
The youth society of Finding N.E.M.O., by having in its dynamic motivated and active young people, delivered back aware citizens with enthusiasm, zeal and willingness to adopt a healthier lifestyle. The participants, by acting as multipliers, shared with their wider societies the gained experiences, the importance to seek for a psychosomatic balance and urged more people to join the Erasmus+ opportunities. By having coexisted for 8 days in a multicultural environment, they had the chance to exchange ideas, thoughts and experiences with their peers and to empower their european identities by feeling more European citizens. The small ‘European community’ of this and each mobility program consists a fundamental basis for the development of team-spirit, solidarity, respect of diversity and further necessary values for human relationships. At the same time reflects the necessary function of each society and proves that through motivation and collaboration we can achieve more and go further.