Erasmus+ KA2: Outdoor Activities For Social Connectedness, Cohesion and Well-being of Youth

KA2 youth on board
Title: Outdoor activities for social connectedness, cohesion and well-being of youth
Project number: 2020-3-MK01-KA205-094423
About the project:

Scientific evidence shows that physical inactivity is a leading risk factor for poor health, going well beyond issues related to weight control and influencing both physical and mental well-being. Over the past few years, the promotion of physical activity has increasingly been recognized in Europe as a priority for public health, and many countries have responded through the development of policies and interventions.

Physical activity can be done in different environments and in different environmental conditions. Outdoor sports and outdoor physical activity solutions have many benefits from the aspect of physical and mental health, environment protection, availability, sustainability etc. The importance of participating in outdoor sports and physical activities as well as being outdoor and active in nature has especially become significant in the last few months when pandemic with COVID – 19 started. The pandemic did not cause just fear, social distancing and isolation. It also affected people’s movement habits, social interaction and communication negatively affecting physical activity level, physical, mental and emotional health. Therefore, one of the focuses of the project will be to support mental and emotional health and improve social connectedness by promoting outdoor activities and outdoor education. As schools return, outdoor learning needs to be a central part of each school’s efforts to maintain restricted social bubbles and distance between students. As a result, many curricular lessons will have to be taken outdoors in the school grounds, parks or other outdoor spaces. In this regard, the project will aim to support teaching staff in schools, universities and other educational institutions in the transition into new ways of working by promoting outdoor learning and outdoor education.

Based on the previously mentioned intentions, we built our project idea on the following three postulates: benefits from outdoor participation and activities for physical and mental health, storytelling as an approach to inner personality and self – discovery and combining them in order to support social connection and cohesion among youngsters.

The project aims to transform educational practices, moving from frequent indoor activities to regular use of the outdoor environment and use it as tools for improvement of social connectedness and social cohesion of youth. In this project, we present the main dimensions related to outdoor activities and highlight the role of professionals and educators in creating quality outdoor play opportunities.

The new applied methodology will evoke social inclusion, lifelong learning and survival skills among the youngsters. Through the connection to place, students will develop stronger environmental attitudes and civic behaviours. Through this kind of learning experiences, we will create the foundation of raising the next generation of active citizens who take care of their natural and human communities. In the same time, we will increase their motivation and outdoor participation through creating challenges and games that will give educators new pointers for developing the new educational curricula. In the centre of the new learning, the methodology will be the art of storytelling.

Objectives

1. Introducing outdoor learning as an active, experiential approach to teaching and learning, open to all, that involves being outdoors as a central part of the experience. Our goal is to use the outdoor environment as a vehicle for transforming the experience into knowledge, skills, attitudes and actions. Through this kind of approach, we will help youngsters to develop knowledge of oneself, others, the environment and the curriculum, encourage social connectedness, cohesion, empathy, tolerance, understanding, cooperation and collaboration.

2. To develop an outdoor methodology that will improve the formal curricula in different educational level and support social connectedness and cohesion by combining outdoor activities, storytelling and holistic learning.

3. Developing the “Youth wellbeing and getting outdoors after Covid-19” handbook as an essential part of the new educational agenda.

4. To design and implement a set of outdoor activities that will help young people to develop skills for independent paly in nature (or outdoor environment) aimed to boost their self – confidence and support social integration, connectedness and cohesion.

5. To define the best outdoor areas in each participant organizations and to propose an additional document for safety and prevention in outdoor activities.

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