Sometimes it takes something extraordinary to facilitate change. How much more extraordinary can a pandemic be, forcing everyone to stay home and restricting movement. By sheer definition, this means that everything stops. Or does it? Who would have thought we could grow the community in a lockdown.
Our Youth for Youth programme is a virtual youth programme which year-on-year brings young adults together every summer in Belarus for an exciting programme of learning, exploration and personal development. Throughout the year, the members run workshops and events in their own communities and work on the programming for the following summer. Some communication across borders does take place between members, but this has always been between the core team. Young adults live busy lives in a continuous cycle of lectures, classes, extra-curricular activities, family and community events and not to forget socialising of course. With the coronavirus lockdown in most countries across the globe, the once crammed timetables suddenly emptied leaving vacuous gaps in the daily routine. What transpired was a yearning to connect.
In an instant, Youth for Youth members seized the opportunity to commune online, which in turn attracted new members. In an almost seamless transition, suddenly Youth for Youth migrated to the virtual world to run workshops, meet, socialise and play interactive and creative get to know you games to welcome newcomers. Older members returned, new members from communities in Belarus joined. The last workshop welcomed visitors as young as 2 weeks old (in the UK) to one-year-old and 91-year-old community members in Polotsk in Belarus all who dropped in to say hello. Themes around the ‘struggles we overcome as volunteers’ and’ youth leadership in a pandemic’ have been explored with more exciting workshops in the planning.
Since lockdown, Youth for Youth members have participated in the London Marathon 2.6 Challenge in the safety of their own homes:
- Eddie Baum wrapping up in 26 items of clothes
- Three members performed in an Instagram live concert – Leo Levine in Austria, Gili Goldberg the UK and Abi Brunner in Scotland!
- The fabulous Aimee Lyons danced for 2.6 hours.
Meanwhile in Belarus:
- Igor and Victor did some serious log chopping
- Artur Livshyts did 26 press-ups
- Anna Mikhalovskaya ate 26 pieces of lemon.
One of our members is connecting from Cleveland, Ohio, and now that we see the possibilities, our Belarusian members across the country are connecting in ways they never did before. What a win!
We would like to wish a huge mazeltov to Sam and Simon Heller on the birth of Annie on April 25th. Sam is a founder member of Youth for Youth and continues with her involvement.
The development of Youth for Youth is down to core members Jack Baum, Sophie Peterman and Sam Heller in the UK and Vlad Zaiko and Rina Friedinzon in Belarus. Welcoming Maeve Silver who is now coordinating Youth for Youth social media and you can follow progress on Youth for Youth Movement on Facebook and Youth for Youth on Instagram.
To any 15 to 30-year-olds interested in Youth for Youth, please get in touch at [email protected].