Building blocks for success with refugee youth in Belgium

SB Espoir coordinator, Marco Cagnolati, tells us about a series of activities he organized with the refugee youth to express themselves and learn through art.

What comes up to mind when thinking of modern cities? Traffic, loud noises concrete jungles and pollution?

Modern cities are also melting pots for different cultures, exhibiting multiculturality and the essence of living together while respecting this diversity. These are all traits sought to foster with the youth in the centres, as they continue their journey towards finding their place and sense of belonging in Belgian society.

Arts and crafts simulate this experience while giving the tools for the youth to be engaged in the development of communities – through collectively planning and building a shoebox city out of the different material available.

City building games are the “Building blocks” for success, presenting significant cognitive and academic benefits for children of all ages. Not only are they fun and exciting, but they help the youth develop a wide variety of skills and abilities. They help prepare for school, sports and life!



Through the planning and building process of the city, the youth at SB Espoir worked as a group, and each participant was encouraged to contribute to the final project, either through co-designing or contributing to the different districts of the city. Modern cities display as level of multi-culturality with different districts, a suitable project for the participation of a group of youth coming from different cultural background.

What these activities taught the youth is that while language often seems like an unsurmountable barrier, there are means for working together towards a common goal. Through working together with versatile materials and a common goal, the youth got to learn about the versatility of communities and the means for them to play an active role in their development – as engaged citizens part of a larger inclusive group.

Want to support the activities and workshops we do with refugee youth in Belgium and have more testimonies like this? Join our team of volunteers: