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Health-themed campus “Youth together against violence!” 11-15.08.22

The first health-themed campus of International Youth Center – Burgas went under the motto “Youth together against violence”. We welcomed colleagues and young people from 6 youth centers across the country – Vratsa, Dobrich, Montana, Pernik, Plovdiv and Stara Zagora. For the duration of their stay, 11th to 15th August, the participants had the opportunity to take part it variety of educational and cultural activities. Some of the events in the program had an “open for all” policy, which allowed the general public to join as well.

The opening activity of the campus was educational quiz night – a way to brake the ice and learn some new, cool and less known facts. Youth workers and the youth got to compete against each other as part of their own cities team. To win the special prizes of International Youth Center – Burgas they had to remember what was the process called diffusion, details about some all time favourite characters and guess the names of few hit songs. The title “Quiz masters of the night” went to Youth Center Vratsa – the team with undoubtedly highest score.

The first day of the official program of the campus was 12th of August, important date for Youth work all over the world as it is the International Youth Day. The main activity that day was, of course, a way of celebration in the form of Treasure hunt, under the name “11 European Youth Goals”. The participants were again divided by teams, but this time each group had at least one person from each city. The hunt started at the Cultural centre NHK, where the teams were given their first task. After successfully completing it, they got the name of the next location, new riddle, and were awarded their first puzzle pieces, part of the final task. The next pieces they had to find on the remaining 11 locations – chosen specially to show the best of the city, while corresponding to each of the youth goals. At the end of the route, all teams had to complete their puzzles. Once combined, all individual puzzles made the bulgarian word for “Together”.

In the afternoon the group went sight seing near Aque Calidae complex, to discover the rich history of the place, shown in a modern way, as well as the captivating nature around. The visit started with a lecture about the history of the complex throughout the ages, followed by 3D mapping projection in the hall, build as mineral baths by sultan Suleiman the Magnificent’s order.

The second day of the campus was oriented towards the problem of road rage. The reason behind this is that Bulgaria is one of the countries with highest rates of victims on the road, with many young drivers involved in the accidents. The first activity for the day was “Challenges in urban environment” which allowed the participants to experience the city by feet and on a bike, and share their opinions in a survey afterwards. Naturally we followed with first aid training from the Bulgarian Red Cross Youth. The last educational event of the day was road safety lecture, given by Vladimir Iliev – motor sports champion and stuntman. After the theoretical part, everyone had the chance to experience moments of an incident, in a safe environment trough the special simulators of Safety Driving Academy. Available on sight were “alco” glasses, used to show the difference between the sight of a sober and drunk person.

We closed the day with a visit of The sand sculptures festival, where everyone posed for a photo with the massive sand dinosaurs – which is this years theme.

The final day of the campus followed the theme of healthy living, eating habits and communication. The daily activities started with outdoor yoga class. Besides the exercises, chosen to fit our beginners group, the instructor Vanya Arbalieva showed us how to use breathing techniques as a way to handle stress and violence. We followed with a session about healthy eating habits and balanced diet with fitness instructors Kiril Tanev and Simona Naydenova. In this module we learned how to turn food into fuel for the body, source of energy, health and beauty.

Next two sessions were dedicated to the topic of healthy, non-violent communication and the ways to achieve it. Ventsislava Tsvetkova, youth worker from International Youth Center – Burgas presented her research on “Agression as a pattern of behaviour in the modern world”, where she used as prime examples the pressure in the fandom communities, mainly the K-pop stans. The presentation illustrated the mental, emotional and physical aspects of violence that can arise even in communities we are voluntarily part of.

Zhulieta Ivanova, also a youth worker from International Youth Center presented a session, dedicated to “Emotional inteligence, non-violent and effective communication”. In the frame of one hour she talked about the importance of voice and intonation while speaking, theoretical knowledge about non-violent communication, followed by exercise on everything learned throughout the session.

We closed the day and the campus with the last session – motivational speech given by Tsanko Tsankov, multiple national champion and record holder, pointing out the importance of sports as an alternative to aggressive behaviour and a way to deal with it. Afterwards the bravest among the youth got into the pool, where Tsanko showed them base swimming techniques.

Big thank you to everyone involved in this adventure – participants, colleagues, lecturers and partners, and of course all municipality structures that made the event possible. See you soon!