The Eco Valley Foundation successfully won an Erasmus+ grant fund in the category of Youth Workers’ Mobility last year. The project was entitled “Make Your Clothes – from Clothes through Disclosure to Inclusion”, which included 7 organisations and 21 youth workers. During the project mobility a total of 18 participants from 6 European countries visited the Eco Valley Foundation’s partner organisation, Syama Handmade textile workshop for the one-week training. The topic was self-sufficient clothing, as well as the use of the Kolb learning cycle model in the work of youth workers, and helping in the career models and social inclusion of young people.

The aim of the project was to train European youth workers how to facilitate non-formal learning process in circumstances of intensive flow of new information. To create the circumstances of learning new practical skills a unique opportunity of making self-sufficient clothing were used. In these circumstances youth workers, besides acquiring the basic knowledge and hard skill of making clothes, were trained in the area of such soft skills as emphatic communication, motivational interviewing, giving supportive and corrective feedbacks, awaking awareness, regulating emotions, creating an environment for reflection and self-expression, as well as exploring beyond current thinking and paradigms. Particularly, the project increased opportunities for the professional development of youth workers and youth leaders and improved their competences regarding soft skills.

The process of learning in this project consisted of three areas:

– CLOTHES as an essential part of cultural and personal identity allowed participants to contemplate on different influences which individuals experience in their life (needs, wishes, motive, ecology, sustainability, self-expression, politics, art, etc).

– DISCLOSURE of inner processes during learning allowed participants to reflect on methods of obtaining skills, sharing experiences, teaching, supporting and facilitating learning processes, team work, etc.

– INCLUSION through acceptance of individual diversities was the main idea of the project to which all the developed soft skills were leading.

Empowering youth workers has been a common goal for the participating organizations. The purposes of the application have been:

– education and practice-oriented training for European youth available via youth workers in their organizations

– preservation of European cultural heritage (folk clothing traditions)

– providing practice-oriented training on self-sustaining clothing and using soft-skills in facilitating non-formal learning for the European youth workers involved in the project

– expanding the career models of young Europeans, which has become available to them through the training of their youth workers, thus providing the opportunity of reducing youth unemployment.

There were demonstrations, workshops and discussions on self-sustainable clothing and experiential learning methods during the first day.
The next day was dedicated to the processing of fibre, hemp, wool and silk. One may see the pictures showing a cheerful atmosphere.
Then, for two days, one part of the group learned spinning, the second weaving, the third dyeing and printing, and the fourth group embroidery in half-day shifts. The participants really enjoyed the intensive hands-on training, while also producing beautiful creations, and all the while the they were able to experience themselves the different cycles of Kolb’s learning model in the various learning groups comprised of the participants.
On the last day we took an ox-cart ride in the morning around the main model community of the Eco Valley Foundation, the Krishna Valley Indian Cultural Centre and Organic Farm , and in the afternoon we shared our experiences about the mobility.
Everyone was very appreciative of what they had learned during the project meeting. Several of the participants have already started to make future plans of cooperation.

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