For all Polish partners, working with refugee children and youth is uncharted waters. To support them with this new challenge, we translated some of our StreetSmart Wheels educational materials to Ukrainian and English and shipped them to Poland, with the support of Faurecia Foundation and DHL Global Forwarding.
In addition, we organized a three-day seminar on how to work with refugee children and youth in Krakow. Since our Greek StreetSmart Wheels partners have seven years of experience in working with refugees, we asked them to join in as well, turning the seminar into a small-scale European exchange. In total, three Polish and two Greek StreetSmart Wheels partners took part in the seminar.
What better way to empathize with children on the move than literally being put in their shoes for some time? To make sure all street educators could experience what it’s like for children to take part in activities when you don’t understand the language, our trainers organized a fun workshop on educational games and creative therapy in a made-up language. We played many different games that can be played without needing any language at all, both with and without the mobile school, giving the street educators a lot of inspiration for their future outreach sessions.
During the workshop on counselling skills, we looked into what’s important to take into account when working with vulnerable children and youth and which communication techniques can be used.
All participants also exchanged challenges and best practices of working with refugee children and youth. Although there are many differences between the contexts in Greece and Poland, it immediately became clear that there are some similar challenges as well. All participants learned a lot from listening to each other’s experiences. Some best practices that where shared during the exchange are:
- Make sure you prepare your activities well:
Work with a weekly and a daily schedule to build up a routine and in the beginning of each activity, explain what you will be doing throughout the activity (using body language, pictures,…), so children know what to expect. Vary the activities you offer as well, to keep the children engaged.
- Don’t focus too much on long-term goals. Celebrate small wins and successes.
Usually, it takes a long time for the impact of your activities to be noticeable, so celebrate small wins and successes to keep yourself motivated. Creating a positive moment throughout one child’s day is already a big achievement! Work with specific objectives to be reached during each activity you organize.
- Create a space within the space you’re working in, using blankets or other materials, to create a safe environment.
To wrap up the seminar, all learnings were put into practice during an outreach session with the mobile school with Ukrainian refugees in Krakow.
Although the seminar is over, it’s not the end of the exchange! All street educators who took part in the seminar want to continue exchanging experiences to keep learning from each other. That is why we will set up some online meetings in the near future to keep the conversations going.
Are you also working with children and youth on the move and are you interested in joining us in these online exchange moments? Then let us know by sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
You can check out our Ukrainian educational materials here: https://www.street-smart.be/blog/streetsmart-play/. We also created a video with 6 practical tips to take into account when working with children on the move, which is available in English, Dutch, French, Spanish, German, Polish, Slovenian, Czech and Romanian.
Many thanks to Faurecia Foundation, DHL Global Forwarding, host organisation Fundacja Ukryte Skrzydla and all other participating StreetSmart Wheels organisations (GPAS, CME GPU Uno, ARSIS Athens and ARSIS Thessaloniki) for turning this exchange into a success!