We organize a camp called ‘Youth Building Bridges’ for around 25 teenagers from different ethnic backgrounds in a mountain village. The teenagers have the opportunity to plan their leisure time program themselves and furthermore, to facilitate uncomplicated mingling, various seminars dealing about multiethnic coexistence were held.
Psycho educative group work is a preventive program that complements psychotherapy. The children experience movement exercises, imagination journeys, arts and crafts, games, painting exercises, individual and group sequences and partner exercises in relation to the following topics:
- Getting to know each other, expectations towards the group
- ‘Introducing myself’: attaining confidence, courage to speak freely, going on ‘Imaginary Journeys’
- ‘Friends’: relating to others in the group, establishing a stronger group cohesion
- ‘Creating a safe place for myself’: how to enter an imaginary world and then leave it again; strengthening personal resources and defense mechanisms
- ‘I can help myself and let others help me’: the children learn to identify and articulate their own needs and wishes and those of others
- ‘Together, we can make it’: promoting creativity and group cohesion, reinforcing awareness for solidarity
- Dealing with aggression and anger: introduction to ‘arguing rituals’ and dealing with conflicts
- Trust and fear: ways of coping, by giving feelings a name
- Self confidence: speaking about individual strengths and weaknesses
- Planning the future and saying goodbye: creative work with limited resources.
The aim of the program is to provide the children in the villages with a holiday program in order to bring a bit of variety and child-oriented activities into their summer break. Every year, in cooperation with the Department of Education, eight villages which have not received any NGO support, are chosen around Gjakova. The project has a strong emphasis on games, (partner, competitive, communication, etc.) fantasy journeys, creative writing, movement and relaxation exercises, and psychomotoric and aggression-reducing activities. Group rules such as ‘we do not laugh at each other’, ‘I respect the others’, ‘I listen to the others’, or ‘the stronger help the weak’ are introduced to support the games socially.
‘Jeux Dramatiques’ is a simple form of acting which was developed for children in particular. The role play is a playful method of promoting perceptiveness, social skills and a non-violent way of dealing with feelings and conflicts. ‘Jeux Dramatiques’ are generally structured as follows:
- A short story is read out loud.
- The group discusses who wants to play which role.
- Difficult situations are discussed and practiced.
- Costumes are put together from an abundance of simple materials.
- Then they begin to play. The story is read out again, very slowly and with interruptions, leaving enough time for pantomime role play.
After playing, there needs to be enough time left to sit in a circle and talk about individual experiences during the role play, in terms of self-perception, perception of other players, and how the interaction within the group other was experienced.
The art group has the following aims:
- activating resources
- boosting self-esteem
- promoting creative and nonverbal expression and the expression of experiences and feelings
- promotion of communication skills, exchange within the group, being able to open up to others and empathize with others
- improving concentration abilities
- learning how to relax
- mobilizing imagination and creative resources
The following sequence of the sessions can be flexibly adjusted:
- 1. week: getting to know each other, ‘name painting’
- 2. week: activating resources – ‘a happy experience/a wish’
- 3. week: reinforcing cohesion in the group ‘group painting’
- 4. week: fantasy journey ‘inner garden’
- 5. week: clay modeling ‘feeling and experiencing resistance’
- 6. week: activating resources ‘dream house’
- 7. week: fantasy journey ‘a safe place’
- 8. week: dealing with parting from each other by ‘saying goodbye to the group’
The aim is to collect as many perspectives as possible on social topics such as life in Kosovo, poverty, or multiethnic coexistence, and to capture these in meaningful photographic images. In addition to teaching photography skills and promoting the development of creative ideas, the project strengthens the adolescents’ social skills and self confidence, and opens up the opportunity to perceive the world from different perspectives, question one’s own views and overcome limitations or prejudices.
This psychosocial program is an answer to the many conflicts and at times escalating tensions at numerous schools, and the helplessness many teachers felt in dealing with them. In weekly sessions, students and teachers are trained in non-violent communication and methods of encouraging a peaceful coexistence. This also involves the training of young mentors. The skills strengthen basic competencies and resources. This enables a transfer and application of the latter to everyday life in terms of both societal and political awareness and engagement, and contributes to ensuring peace in a post-war society.