From Separation to Connection

(Environ)mental health in youth work

An Erasmus+ training for youth workers from The Netherlands, Greece, Spain, Croatia, Lativia and Poland.

The aim of the project is to provide more awareness and tools to improve both mental health and ‘planetary’/ environmental health. The objectives of our project are to support youth workers to:

  1. Give insight into unhealthy forms of separation with self, others and nature and methods to improve inter-personal interaction, to improve mental health in themselves and others;
  2. Explore nature-based ways to restore a healthy connection with the natural world and find opportunities to live more sustainable lives aligned with the capacity of nature;
  3. Build a common future vision, their future path within it and identify first steps to include new insights from the course in youth work;
  4. Create a network of like-minded youth workers who want to improve (environ)mental health, so they can exchange best practices, learn from each other and cooperate and increase their impact.

The course will have the following themes:

Day 1 “From Separation to Connection”

Day 2 “Mental Health”

Day 3 “Resilience”

Day 4 “Deep Listening”

Day 5 “Reconnecting to Nature”

Day 6 “Heart-Head-Hands for Future Plans”

Day 7 “Looking Back & Forward”

The exact program of the training course will be share with people selected to participate.

Background

We observe a growing sense of alienation, isolation and depression in both young and not-so-young people. A sense of separation, from the natural world, each other and even ourselves (a separation of mind/body) is the most important cause for these feelings. We got more disconnected from each other, for example due to mobile phones that reduce face-to-face communication. We got disconnected from the natural world by the increasing urbanisation, while nature has a relaxing effect on our nervous systems. This separateness does not only have an unhealthy effect on our well-being, but also on that of the Earth. Temperatures are rising, weather conditions worsening, biodiversity decreasing, natural habitats get destroyed and many species are going extinct at an alarming rate, because we don’t care enough.

While we cannot physically separate ourselves from nature, we do act as if they are separate. Humans’ behaviour towards nature is destructive and thereby SELFdestructive. Feeling a part of nature, we see it is crucial to care for both ourselves and nature simultaneously. The two support each other. A connection with nature creates resilience for everyday life and gives new motivation and perspectives for more resilient sustainable ways of living.

With this project we want to explore the separation and move to re-connection, with psychological, personal, collective and practical approaches, to become healthier as a person and as a community. We’ll draw from Gestalt Therapy, Deep Ecology and Buddhism.

Apply until the 5th of October, 2022