The European Union has identified Education, Training and Employment as priorities in its agenda. Project ideas targeting young people to inject sustainable changes are therefore encouraged, tackling issues such as of youth unemployment and social exclusion among others. Indeed, the New Skills Agenda for Europe approved by the European Commission underlines the importance of a full access to training and relevant formation for European citizens. However, Education should not only be understood as the pedagogical methods developed in the school framework; Education continues outside the classroom. A lot of competences can arise from non-formal education activities such as volunteering, and later be transferred into the young people’s professional skills, thus participating to the construction of their professional career as well as their identity-building process.
It is undeniable that volunteering within grassroots practices, especially in the field of sport, can contribute to skills development of young people across Europe, and around the world. ISF truly plays a significant role since its sport events constitute platforms of learning for young athletes and volunteers. ISF activities do not limit to sport competitions. Having young people from all over the world learning from each other through sport activities beside the competitions is a great opportunity to tackle issues threating the integrity of sport such as doping, violence, intolerance and discrimination. By leading an Erasmus+ project called “Volunteering in School Sport” (V2S), ISF wants to encourage youth engagement by empowering more young volunteers in its school sport events. The project also reinforces ISF commitment to include innovative education tools and methodologies to raise awareness on societal issues such as social inclusion and gender equality, and to use education through sport to improve tomorrow’s world.
The V2S will last from January 2017 to March 2018. The ISF leads this ambitious European program, which goals are to involve and empower more young volunteers in school sport organizations. The ISF truly believes that volunteers form the engine of sport events, thus deserve to be valorised. The responsibilities they take and the challenges they have to face constitute skills valuable on the job market, and not only in the field of sport. Six European school sport organizations agreed to take part in the project: national school sport federations from Croatia, France, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, and Turkey. Each of them will select four young people that will together form a pool of 24 Young Volunteers. The project was constructed following three phases, each happening in a different member country.
- The first one aims at raising awareness among the Young Volunteers on the personal and collective benefits of taking part in voluntary activities. During five days, they will also be taught how to raise awareness among their peers using “Education Through Sport” methods with the help and expertise of Hope For Children Hungary, another project partner.
- They will then be offered the space to implement their new skills during the European School Sport Badminton Championship, happening in Clermont-Ferrand (France) from June 16th-21st, 2017. This European sport event is a great opportunity for young people to learn with and from each other through various activities such as workshops. The European think thank Sport and Citizenship will also be present to share its expertise on the subject with a conference on “Sport, volunteering and skills development” accessible to all the European School Sport Badminton Championship participants.
- Since learning never comes without some reflexing analysis, the Young Volunteers will gather again in Croatia to look back at their actions in Clermont-Ferrand and talk about further project ideas to be improved, developed and implemented within their own national school sport framework.
Throughout the V2S projects, European school sport bodies will share good practices and reflect upon their own organization’s structure and governance to start thinking about how to give more space to the youth. The 24 V2S Young Volunteers will indeed be given the opportunity to raise awareness among their peers by participating in several national events all along the project period. These experiences will enable the Young Volunteers and their peers, to reflect upon the issues addressed in a more theoretical way through non-formal education methods. It may help them shape their future choices regarding their studies and careers.
ISF is looking forwards to seeing new generation of citizens emerged from its school sport events, and is actively participating, through this Erasmus + project, to empower them and to valorise a more active youth participation within the national and international school sport frameworks. The V2S project will prove once again that non-formal education and grassroots practice can tackle major social issues using sport as a very powerful tool to change and educate.