Happy Social Inclusion! - My Eurogaming experience
“Undergoing a self-changing and enabling social experiment, all with an undeclared agenda, and a secret book of actions, in an influenced and guided environment, with a whole spectrum of remarkably different people.” That was my Facebook status on the 23rd of September, 2011. It was updated on a public computer in the reception hall at CEULAJ, during one of the coffee breaks.
Being more of a realization than a status update, this had marked the midway point of the non-formal education training "Eurogaming2010", developed by YEU International and other stakeholders, which took place between the 18th -28th of September 2011 in Mollina, Spain. The training aimed to increase the social inclusion of people from disadvantaged groups, especially young people with disabilities or rather “difabilities”, a portmanteau coined originally by the training participants, combining the words "different" and "abilities".
Early days, during the experience of intensive learning, exposure, as well as constant interaction with 14 other total strangers coming from different cultural backgrounds and with diverse mindsets, interests and abilities, turned out to be more eye-opening than I had ever foreseen. The way strange individuals perceive each other, relate to one another, and look for their fitting spot in a forming group, and what all of that is based on at that early stage, is interesting yet mind-boggling. This is because of various factors that could come into play, from previous experiences to current expectations, from stereotypes to counter-types, and from prejudice to fair judgments. It seemed to be an open playground of interaction with no clear boundaries or game-rules.
The trainers, although offering the big part of the content, having abundant knowledge of the topic at hand, strong passion towards the concepts examined and genuine care for the participants, seemed to be deliberately distant, providing more mind-provoking input rather than feedback, allowing the space to progress, with proper influence and guidance when needed.
Systematic, conscious or unintended, individual or communal deprivation of others to basic rights such as the right to be, or the right to have access to opportunities and resources is one definition of social exclusion. Methodologies to counter those phenomena was one part of the "undeclared agenda" of this training, while the other part was to enable and stimulate the initiation of active elements who will start from the classroom in Mollina and hopefully build on that knowledge, implement it and also transfer it within their communities raising awareness about the social exclusion and promote the antidote, i.e. social inclusion.
Non-formal education as a tool to counter social exclusion was not only used in the classroom as the training method of choice, but was also manifested in a "secret book of actions", entitled “Eurogames 2010”. The booklet carries the core concept of active social inclusion, and attempts to deliver it to its audience in the form of fun and effective games and activities.
Eurogames 2010 is a booklet that offers around 80 activities designed with an inclusive approach, focusing on the abilities of young people rather than their disabilities. The activities are marked with symbols defining their level of accessibility by participants with different abilities, including speaking, listening, sight, mental (emotional, behavior and learning), as well as physical difabilities.
Seven main types of activities are available to be delivered, recreated, further developed and combined. These categories include: ice breakers, energizers, group building, thematic, role play, simulations and evaluation methods.
Happy social inclusion for all.
Participant in the “Eurogaming 2010” TC in Mollina