Connections through comics and music for the social integration of the disadvantaged Youth
A creative and flexible toolkit for the valorization of informal learning through music therapy and visual arts
Comusyc project aims to develop a comprehensive and cross-sectoral strategy that will increase the intercultural and transnational dialogue between young people, using creativity and art as fundamental tools for mediating and building bridges. A high number of reports and studies reveal how social marginalization continues to represent a widely diffused phenomenon in contemporary Europe, in particular in the Mediterranean region. Young individuals who are struggling to find a pathway in their transition from study to work tend to loosen their ties with their communities, becoming uninterested in the economic, social and political reality of the country and continent where they live and losing any trust in the possibility of becoming active members of their society.
Comusyc aims to play an active role in fighting again the risk of social exclusion, providing tools and strategies for keeping open the lines of dialogue with marginalized youth, helping them in expressing their fears, and valorizing their key competencies and skills in an open Europe. The use of creativity allows these young people to become active members of a democratic Europe, supporting them in rethinking their possibilities to find new opportunities in the labour market.
The Comusyc partnership aimed to develop an “integrated” approach, joining the efforts of 7 organizations from 5 countries that have different profiles and backgrounds and a common proven track record of supporting young people (and NEETs) into active citizenship and participation. A similar multiplicity of focuses and ranges of action has guaranteed an advantageous sharing of experiences and expertise, creating a consortium able to develop transnational methodologies for the valorization of informal learning approaches to address social exclusion.
This toolkit includes problems faced by youngsters, especially those who do not experience success in the work nor in the academic contexts, alongside with suggestions on how music and the arts can help them overcome these problems.
During the first phase of the project, all CoMusyc partners organized the so-called “Actiworkshops” at their headquarters, involving marginalized young people at risk of social exclusion. The workshops were conducted in 5 different European countries with a total of 100 youngsters.
A series of difficult and frustrating daily situations that the participants in the workshops face in their life were identified and expressed through what was called “scenarios of activation”. A total of 50 scenarios of activation were collected, but, after reviewing them, it was clear that, despite the cultural and geographical differences, many of the identified problems overlapped. The repeated ones were eliminated, giving a final total of 24 scenarios of activation. These 24 scenarios were organized in four different categories according to the nature of the problem.
The four categories in which our scenarios of activation have been grouped are:
- Intrapersonal and interpersonal communication difficulties: These include difficulties in expressing oneself verbally, which can manifest in family contexts, or with friends and peers.
- Self-confidence issues: These include problems related with self-esteem and self-concept, which manifest in work and/or academic contexts.
- Cognitive and emotional difficulties: These include issues such as anxiety, fear, anger management, lack of attention, lack of critical thinking abilities….
- Trauma and abuse issues and their consequences: These include issues such as loss of some loved one, facing past traumas.
Each page of this toolkit contains one scenario. The lightbulb symbol indicates a way in which music and art can help teenagers cope with the problem identified in the scenario.
In this Toolkit, we present a series of strategies on how to use music and the arts to deal and cope with the most common problems, difficult and frustrating situations, youngsters 18-30 years of age face in their everyday lives. These strategies are intended to be resources for individuals to be applied autonomously, as well as in formal and informal settings under the leadership of a professional.
The Toolkit pretends to contribute to the overall COMUSYC project aim:
To improve the achievement in relevant and high-level basic and transversal competencies in a lifelong learning perspective.
The material we present is the result of specific workshops that took place in five different countries to strengthen the intercultural and transnational dialogue between young people, using creativity and art as tools for mediating bridges with the overall aim to decrease social marginalization of youngsters, which unfortunately continues to represent a widely diffused phenomenon in contemporary Europe. The activities that took place in the ACTIWORKSHOPS were art-based. That is, they all were developed from an artistic perspective using the arts as the main tools : music, dance, visual arts, drama, poetry….. , and they were tailored towards very specific aims with the stimulation of creativity as a basis: providing competencies such as communication skills, sense of initiative, cultural awareness & expression, and social and civic competencies. These workshops took place in informal settings in the headquarters of of each of the project partners, in five different countries. The strategies you find in this TOOLKIT are based on the perceptions of the participants collected through post-workshops evaluations in which they were able to express how music and the arts had helped them.
It is important to emphasize that despite cultural differences and geographical locations, it was noted that many of the problems that youth currently face, identified through the scenarios of activation, are the same. So, we feel this TOOLKIT can be of use to a large number of youngsters who are in a social vulnerable position in a variety of cultural contexts, and it is our objective to evaluate it further in the next step of our project in order to formalize the CoMuSYc methodology.
From the strategies proposed, it can be noted that music and the arts are very flexible mediums that allow to address a variety of functional areas and address a broad array of problems. As a summary of the results of the ACTIWORKSHOPS and supportive literature, we can state that THE ARTS can provide the following to marginalized youth:
- Nurture creativity, expression and artistic talents
- Encourage a participatory and more pragmatic learning style
- Provide opportunities for experiential learning and memory retention
- Build self esteem, identity and balanced development
- Explore cultural and social discourse
- Foster mental stimulation and problem solving skills
- Promote harmony and social integration
We hope, and this is our sincere intention, that this TOOLKIT will contribute to a better understanding of how to use music and the arts for supporting marginalized individuals, in finding new opportunities to develop new skills and explore their inner potential for a better integration into the current society and an overall better wellbeing.
A total of 50 scenarios of activation were collected, but, after reviewing them, it was clear that, despite the cultural and geographical differences, many of the identified problems overlapped. The repeated ones were eliminated, giving a final total of 24 scenarios of activation. These 24 scenarios were organized in four different categories according to the nature of the problem.
Erasmus+ Strategic Partnerships- Key Action 2- Sector: Youth GRANT AGREEMENT: 2021-1-BE04-KA220-YOU-000029061