Let’s Prove Them Wrong!
36 young people gathered in Lithuania, Kaunas on one sunny week of 8-16 of April to participate in Erasmus+ youth exchange “Prove Them Wrong” (acronym PTW). All of them gathered various experience and knowledge with one goal in mind – come up with ideas how to prevent young people from re-offending and improve the reintegration methods. You can have a look at some of the project’s best moments here:
Inspiration for the Project
Children of today are leaders of tomorrow. And to ensure bright future we need to make sure that they lead their lifes as best as possible. Unfortunately, not all kids have the “luxury” to live without breaking any laws. Juvenille delinquencey is one of the most sensitive problems accross EU countries as millions of juveniles are arrested on various offences (these scale from minor ones, such as theft, to the extreme ones, such as homicide, robbery, rape). No matter the reason or the offence commited, majority of these kids face social exclusion and negative perception towards them, which limits their future prospects greatly; hence their return to criminal behaviour (re-offending). One of the major reasons for negative perception and social exclusion of (ex-)offenders is that there is lack of methods in youth work to help them reintegrate into society and prevent re-offending. Our team believes that one of the best ways to raise awareness on this issue and create necessary tools to help (ex-)offenders find their way back into society is through social intiatiaves, thus the creation of “Prove Them Wrong” project.
Objectives of the Project
To teach the youth about the juvenile delinquency, and turning their ideas reality, the following objectives were set to be achieved:
Develop youth’s understanding of juvenile delinquency as well as provide them with specific tools and support to prevent it;
Identify the most common crimes youth are committing in participants’ countries and find ways to reduce them;
Create methods that would help prevent juvenile criminals from reoffending;
Raise public awareness about the importance of preventive actions and integration process;
Spread tolerance and boost cooperation between young offenders and non-offenders in order to create joint work, inclusion, equality and social initiatives.
During the project, we hosted 36 young people from 6 different countries (Turkey, UK, Portugal, Germany, Czech-Republic and Lithuania) who were eager to deepen their knowledge in the topics of juvenile delinquency successful prevention and intervention methods and programs.
As majority of participants had previous experience and knowledge of juvenile delinquency, volunteering and working with youth, unique ideas, initiatives and methods were created during the exchange to integrate (ex-)offenders into society.
Each participant was highly motivated to learn more about the good practises of prevention and intervention methods, which they could apply in their future initiatives. Hence, information sharing amongst the participants was easily facilitated.
Participant’s view on the project is best represented by one of their quotes:
[blockquote cite=”Niki, Czech-Republic”]I’ve been to a number of projects and this one is the greatest! We had a lot of practical workshops and I was surprised by how young offenders live in youth colony. Knowledge and experiences I got will truly help me back in my country to work on integration of young offenders into society!
In order to achieve the objectives mentioned above, a range of NFE methods developed by all the partner organisations were employed. The main activities identified the benefits of youth participation in creating the means of spreading information about the idea to the public. Involvement, creativity and initiative of all the participants were encouraged throughout the activities, which included:
- City game-undertaking different tasks;
- Info-session/analyzing CKA (Current knowledge assessment);
- Field visit-creating a survey about juvenile delinquency in Lithuania and then find out what is the public opinion on the topic;
- Visit to a criminal youth center in Kaunas city and reflection of the visit;
- Creative workshops presenting youth criminality by country;
- Cultural nights;
- Role playing- related to the topic;
- Creating video for social initiatives;
- Guest speaker workshop and many more.
Some of the key activities’ descriptions may be found below. [divider]
There is an old saying ‘there is no “I” in “team” ‘. To see if it’s true or not, our participants had to complete various tasks around the city, involving the topic of the project. Number of these tasks included social experiments and public acts, where participants had to pretend that they’re being robbed. Furthermore, during this activity participants got an opportunity to learn more about local’s perception about young offenders, what is percentage of young offenders in Lithuania, etc.
Participants were surprised by the reaction (or more to the point – lack of it) from locals when they were “robbed” (during staged acts). Furthermore, as mentioned before, participants received a negative feedback on the perception of (ex-)offenders and their actions to improve, saying “once an offender, always an offender”.
As this was one of the first activities, held during the project, participants were inspired even more to look for methods to combat negative perception and successfully integrate (ex-)offenders back into society.
Field visit: Social survey in Kaunas city
Research is the key component to understanding the current social or any other issues, current trends and how to best tackle them. Even though there are numerous researches done on the topic of juvenile offenders and (ex-)offenders integration into society, participants felt like there was always something missing.
Hence, we initiated “Prove Them Wrong” research teams, which had a huge task ahead of them – create a representative survey that would help us create methods for successful (ex-)offenders integration into society. Various questions and ideas arose, a couple of which include: How do you personally view juvenile criminal? What are the common stereotypes and attitudes towards youth gangs? What is the criminality rate in Lithuania and Europe?
As our motto is “learning by doing”, participants were tasked with finding out the answers to their questions from the locals. During the field visit participants received various answers, but they were intrigued by them. Majority of locals replied that they do not view lightly the integration of (ex-)offenders and small amount of locals said that they were not aware that such programs exist in Lithuania.
Role play game-what if
Each situation is perceived differently. One of the reasons – we have different experiences, prejudices and presumptions of various things.
To understand views of every participant and how we can mitigate negative perception on certain issues or situations, we divided participants into mixed groups with the same task – create a visual scene for described situation. Even though provided situations were the same for all the participants, none of them were made aware of this fact. Thus, friendly competition between participants teams was even stronger.
After the photoshoot session, each team had to present the results and describe the depicted situations (f.e. Police caught the rapper who is kicking the butt of the Easter Bunny).
During this activity participants not only learned how to appropriately react to other’s opinions and views, but enhanced their team, communication and creative skills.
Visit to a criminal youth center in Kaunas city
Criminal youth center is a place, where juvenile offenders serve their time for various committed crimes (including homicide, assault, robbery, burglary, etc.) Majority of young offenders staying there are between 14-18 years, although officially people until the age of 24 will be there.
During the project activities we had a rare opportunity to visit correctional youth correctional colony. While there, participants had a guided tour through correctional facility (men prison), where people stay before they are released from prison. Tour guides showed participants the living conditions, daily activities majority of young offenders do in correctional facility, as well as different parts of the facility (library, playground, dining hall).
Afterwards, we had a round-table discussion with the head prison officer, who explained the current situation and issues Lithuania faces in regards to juvenile delinquency. Future projects and plans for minor’s reintegration process were shared and participants were extremely happy with the forecasted implementation of Scandinavian imprisonment model.
After the visit, participants were left with mixed feelings. They felt sadness, anger and shock from how young offenders are treated and how they treat each other, yet they were hopeful and interested in the methodology used to reintegrate youth back into society.
PROVE THEM WRONG-social initiative
Social initiatives are a great way to quickly and efficiently attract a lot of attention locally and internationally.
To raise social awareness of the locals about juvenile delinquency and methods they can use to help integrate young offenders into society, participants created social initiative “Prove Them Wrong”.
These initiatives tackled different sides of juvenile re-offending issue:
- How to reduce most common crimes in participating countries;
- Create a method that would help juvenile delinquents to prevent from re-offending;
- How to raise public awareness about importance of juvenile delinquency prevention and integration into society.
Participants got an opportunity to not only have creative freedom in creating their perfect social initiative, but also had a chance to implement it in Kaunas and have support and suggestions from like-minded youngsters. This infused participants with higher than ever passion to do good and spread it between peers from local and international communnities.
Each group of participants created a video to showcase their idea and how it will help others. Not only social, but theatrical skills were improved and each participant exchanged places with the viewer in the cinema to show what’s it like to be a movie star.
Posters for social initiatives
Videos of social initiatives
Red carpet award ceremony
During the youth exchange it is important to not only hear the thoughts of the peers, but from experts of the field as well. Hence, representative from social reintegration project “Mano Guru” gave us a visit and presented more about her work and how they want to expand in the future.
“Mano Guru”s mission is to reintegrate former drug addicts into the society by providing them with jobs in a restaurant, which goes by the same name. During non formal discussion she presented all the ups and downs of such project and what support communities and goverment provides.
Participants were inspired by the idea of such social action and were interested in the possibility of applying their social initiatives in their local environments to promote ex-offenders reintegration. The passion and honesty of the guest speaker lit a strong fire in everyone’s heart.
Read more about the project here:
During the project various activities were held to help participants form strong interpersonal bonds and promote equality, tolerance and other European values.
In addition, team building activities, such as creation of rules, gossip box, etc. were facilitated and speed dating between participants was initiated to provide opportunity to know each other better. Video afternoon with inspirational short films were organised to motivate youngsters and show the realities of life of young (ex-)offenders.
Participants also had an opportunity to lead workshops, during witch severeness of youth crime in their cultures/countries were presented. In addition to that, traditional food, dances, quizzes and traditions about their country were presented to further facilitate intercultural exchange.
Here you can also find some of the posters created by the participants during the project:
The organizers describe the project as a success in all senses. Both the informal learning process, as well as the sharing of participant experiences among each other worked really well. As the knowledge assessment of the participants have shown an increase of almost 50% in the knowledge of juvenile offending/youth criminality.
The participants of the project were also amazed by Lithuania. Most activities were held outside, so they had the chance to visit the city and explore the culture. In addition, they saw Kaunas’ beautiful countryside which left a lasting impression on them.
Majority of participants never visited a correctional facility before coming to the youth exchange and now almost everybody would recommend other people to visit it. Moreover, participants did not believe in prevention system in their country before the mobility (almost 47%) and afterwards almost everyone (80%) responded that it is possible to prevent youth crime with different prevention methods. Additionally, they believe now that the most important step in order to stop young people from re-offending is good reintegration program.
All in all, the project induced a positive effect on the participants, organizations and made an impact at the regional, national and international levels. Youth engagement in prevention of juvenile delinquency has a great potential and each individual participating, can make an impact in their country. Through the social initiatives and other activities, they got an idea and perspective on how they can help youth and how they can promote different methods to prevent offending or re-offending. Therefore, we are confident that participants who attended the project ‘Prove them wrong’ will do just that and promote similar projects across the European Union.
Project’s schedule, activities & material:
- Schedule of the Youth Exchange
- Info pack of youth exchange, with all the information for project participants.
- Country workshop topic, that participants had to make interactive presentations for.
- Current knowledge assessment, which was done in the beginning of the project.
- Role play game-what if? with information how to do the task.
- Prove them wrong-social initiative, with instruction how to create a it.
- Video making, with information how to create a good video.
- My GURU, presentation about the project.
- Workshop Czech Republic
- Workshop Turkey
- Workshop Portugal
- Workshop Germany
- Workshop UK
- Workshop Lithuania
- Partners from Turkey
- Lithuanian National agency about the project
- Partners from Germany
- International coverage
- Erasmus platform
Participants-Prove them wrong!