Sharing New Year Resolutions and other European traditions with refugee youth

With the new year at SB OverSeas, we’ve started once again our weekend activities with refugee youth at accommodation centres in Brussels. Marco Cagnolati, the SB Espoir project coordinator, shares his thoughts on the activity and working with the youth:

For these first activities of the new year, the SB Espoir team of volunteers got to introduce to most of the youth to the concept of New Year Resolutions and sharing the best moments of 2018. Even though there were clear language barriers, these challenges ignited the group’s problem-solving, with certain youth taking the initiative to translate for their fellow participants and even make new friends with unlikely neighbours.

After these icebreakers and energizers, the youth moved on to learning about friendship bracelets. At SB Espoir, we work with volunteers to support the transition these youths are going through during their long journey from home to look for better living conditions. During this journey, they’ve made friends and sharing experiences for the better or for the worse. In light of these evolving friendships, today’s activities were about friendship bracelets, a staple part of the tradition among children in most of Europe and  in the US. In these regions, children often make these bracelets as a way for friends to show how much they mean to one another. Traditionally, close friends will each create a wristband and present them to each other as gifts. Thus, the youth in the centers got experience this first-hand with the SB Espoir team.

Beyond the tradition of bracelets making, this activity made the youth break from their usual rhythm to focus on a single task. This break from their usual fast-paced lifestyle and often focused on mobile phones had a therapeutic effect, with the youth being able to detach from their daily worries and habits, share the experience with those sitting next to them, and have the satisfaction of making something for themselves to share with those they care about.

It is important to promote healthier lifestyles for the youth, and one of these is to introduce the youth to hobbies and activities, such as bracelet making and painting, as not only a way to distress but potentially use as a way to make some pocket money. Such activities will be encouraged for the new year, with the youth and volunteers having the chance to share, and sometimes discover, their passions and talents.


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