Programme & action: ERASMUS+: Youth, Key Action 1: training course
Dates: 25 August — 1 September 2021
Venue: Urdos, France
Hostitelská organizace: Association La Villa
Participating countries: France, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Italy, Portugal, Czech Republic, Romania, Croatia, Lithuania, Greece
Czech team: František Brázdilík, Ladislav Horák
Fully charged battery on your phone is important and we all know that. You need it to be able to communicate and to be able to handle many everyday tasks. It is important – that’s why we take care about it and charge our phone regularly. We all know what will happen to our mobile if we would not charge it. Its energy would run out and it would stop working.
It is interesting that we all know this about the phone but we are sometimes unaware that we need the same care. What will happen, if you will have perfectly shaped body (a.k.a. flawless hardware) when your mind, your software, will be exhausted and not able to cooperate?
That´s why our own mental health is important. And to be able to help others, firstly we must be able to take care about us – to fill our battery, or even to be aware that it needs to be refilled. If you are not aware that your battery or petrol tank is running out, you are heading for a big and not-pleasant surprise when it “suddenly” runs out of energy – that is why mental awareness is so important.
But to be aware of your limits and problems is not enough. When your phone is running out of battery, lets say it is on less then 10% – then you are not able to think about anything else, other then when and how to refill it. Same goes for your car or for your health – mental or general. That imminent threat severely limit our functionality and destroy concentration and wellbeing in general.
But what to do to avoid it? We have to learn how to live in balance – how to refill our souls in a same way we are refilling our body with food every day. Balance is important. It keeps our lives in ease limits the amount of unnecessarily stress situations.
In last two “Covid-19 years” more and more of people and young people particularly started to feel more stressed and un-easy. Home office/schooling often turned from desired state to a nightmare. We, people, are different individuals and as such, we are suited to different ways of living or even taking care about ourselves and so it is worth it to discover which one suits to us and incorporate then those suiting to our every day lives…
We are founding ourselves in the 1400metres above the sea level in the heart of the French Pyrenees. On the traditional St. James path to Santiago de Compostela. Uplifted in more ways than one. The gentle breeze brings the sound of bells from sheep grazing somewhere on the horizon. One of the best weeks in my life is just ending.
I came to learn more about Mental health in theory and practice so I can help better to our students who started to show signs of stress and restlessness after several months of repeated pandemic lockdowns.
I wanted to change that. And actually I had no idea that it will change me first. But I am glad it did.
This week started with a first drop – a girl in public transport in Bordeaux overheard me talking about where am I going and she came across to me: “Are you also going to Urdos? To Keep calm training?” What a coincidence – still hundreds kilometers away but already we are coming together… Then we met two Greek girls in a local train, and they were also coming our way– drops two and three. And when Denis, leader of whole project, came for us by car to last train station – it really started to pour. We were close to the famous Lourdes and it was as if heavens itself opened and turned the bucket of water upon us. Water first – knowledge and skills came right after that…
Thanks to the great trainers – Anja and Denis from Association La Villa and their Slovak counterparts Petra and Svetlana from Footour we were brought here as youngsters or youth workers from all of Europe and we had a chance to live through a week of methods, games and techniques aiming to teach us how to maintain and strengthen our mental wellbeing…
The whole week was a real mental spa. Every day we have started with different morning routine – which taught us how we can take care about our soul in 15 minutes of time – and by choosing different method every day we were able to assess which one works best for us – from yoga, different versions of meditations, walk in the nature, journaling or 3 morning happy songs (my favorite 😉 ).
During the day we have enjoyed lectures about various topics from mental health, mental wellbeing of youths and about Erasmus programme itself and we have participated every day in various workshops and physical, artistic and personal care activities – aimed to help us with our youth work. Ranging from different ice breaking and team building games, music and art therapy, yoga and meditation, through circus pedagogy, experimental learning, conscious travel, forest therapy, etc.
We have practiced methods how to maintain healthy mental wellbeing within work or teaching group, problem solving through sharing your problems with others, and training for specification of our dreams and goals.
We were also encouraged to use our free time to prepare some activity ourselves for others within the Open Space afternoon and: “Sharing is caring” motto… Thanks to that we have tried a trust based games and lectures of painting, singing, dancing or battling the stage fright in public speaking. In middle of the week we also had a free afternoon during which we could have some of our own time. Most of our group went for a hiking trip with our trainers to the distant mountain lake where we could also swim. Some of us choose to walk for a calming trip to the Spanish border via the Camino de Santiago and it was a great afternoon in nature for all of us.
Somehow we all were able to create a great atmosphere within the group which made it easy for everyone to share own life experiences, and open their hearts and minds to new learning. We´ve had an absolute support and understanding from the great team of trainers and I still cannot believe that it was their first time they were actually working together – such a great mix of personalities and energy! The chosen place for a venue itself surely also played a great deal in the positive feeling as you cannot but feel uplifted in a natural heaven as this – it really create a great atmosphere within the group which contributed to the overall feeling of being at safe place and everyone helped to sort out our thoughts, to calm us and to world on our inner peace of mind.
As we learn more deeper by our own experiences, this was without any doubt a great learning experience which taught me (and I am sure that not only me, as the feeling was prevalent) a lots for my future professional and personal life and we have all learned so much in terms of methods and techniques which are already making our life and the lives of especially young people around us, much more balanced and fruitful as we inevitably have the need to send it forward!
Personally it helped me to realize that I have to keep the balance overall, so except the fact that I have started to promote mental wellbeing and its awareness wherever possible I have actually regularly started to do yoga, and to walk more, to keep also my body fit and in balance…
And last but not least! Thanks a lot to EYCB which gave me this opportunity and which serves as a beacon on the horizon of our local sky – to bring us all these great possibilities of non-formal education which allows us to grow! That’s real Erasmus+ spirit! Thanks thousand times!
And remember – Sharing is caring! so send it forward, so more people finds out these great learning opportunities. Every day, one small step further will get you one day to the top of your world. Just keep going… step by step 😉