CoMedY – Community Mediation for Youth is a project funded by the Erasmus+ Programme – Key Ac-tion 2, Capacity Building in the Field of Youth of the European Commission. The project was designed and coordinated by the association P.E.CO. – Progetti Europei di Cooperazione; AssMedCom – Associa-zione di Mediazione Comunitaria supported P.E.C.O. on logistics and methods. The project was imple-mented between March 2016 and February 2018.
The CoMedY project stemmed from the encounter between Community Mediation practice and the experience in international youth work within non-formal educational contexts when we realized that they share some tools, methods, and possible scopes. For this reason, we decided to propose a project based on three main topics to be developed and interconnected within different international activities: these topics were Community Mediation, non-formal education and youth active participation.
By community mediation, we mean an approach that aims at preventing, managing and transforming conflicts by promoting local community involvement in decision-making processes through its empowerment. The Community Mediation approach has a strong impact on the empowerment and promotion of active participation on the part of local communities; despite its being applied in very diffe-rent contexts (neighbourhoods, schools, social services, prisons…), it has rarely been used in youth work and it has never been applied in European projects for international youth mobility. The main aim of the project was thus to propose the Community Mediation model as a best practice to be introduced and promoted in the context of youth organizations and, more specifically, of organizations working within the Erasmus+ Programme. We hope that, also thanks to the dissemination of this tool, the Community Mediation approach will become a best practice for the organizations working within the Erasmus+ Programme and, for those who work with and for youth. We believe in Community Mediation as a tool which can facilitate decision-making processes and learning how to manage situations of conflict.
The countries involved in the project were Italy, Portugal, and Spain for Europe; Argentina, Mexico, and Peru for Latin-America. The involvement of Latin-American countries is particularly meaningful because Community Mediation was born and developed in this context.
Kick-off meeting, Arcos de Valvedez – Portugal, 21 – 25 may 2016
The meeting allowed participants to know the partner organizations’ work in local contexts. It also provided us the first occasion to start and create a tightknit team. During this meeting, we discussed the phases of the project, explored its objectives and possible ways of disseminating its results, and defined budget management and evaluation criteria.
Training course on Community Mediation, Arcos de Valvedez – Portugal, 26 – 31 may 2016 and Lima – Peru, 20-26 October 2016
Each organization sent two representatives and a local community stakeholder: their participation was meant to improve knowledge on the Community Mediation approach thanks to the involvement of the local communities. This step was conceived to maximise the project’s impact and to made the local event on Community Mediation easier to organize. The training courses, which could be better defined as “awareness-raising events”, were given by Graciela Frias Ojinaga, and allowed participants to know about and focus on the Community Mediation approach and its tools. They were also an opportunity to get acquainted with the local best practices and to explore possible models to promote active participation in youth which were being used by partners within the non-formal educational sector. They also facilitated mutual knowledge and exchange among participants, thus creating a cohesive working group.
Study visits in Resistencia – Chaco, Argentina; in Puebla, Mexico and in Huamachuco, Peru, 9 – 19 October 2016
The Portuguese representative went to Mexico, the Italian one to Argentina and the Spanish referent went to Peru. The main goal of these visits was, first, to get acquainted with the local contexts and sending/hosting organizations of EVS volunteers; and second, to become aware of local practices which were meant to develop active citizenship and Community Mediation. For this reason, a series of visits and meetings was scheduled with the local communities where the organizations are working.
Training period within the sending organizations (2 month between December 2016 and March 2017, depending on the date of departure)
12 EVS volunteers were involved in a two-month training within the respective sending organizations, before departure. The training focused on the topics decided during the training course on Community Mediation. This was also the occasion to prepare volunteers for departure and work together on the documents for their journey. The goal was to create a connection among volunteers based on personal acquaintance as well as the working methods used for the single project and inside the organizations.
European Voluntary Service within hosting organizations (about 6 months between February and October 2017 depending on the date of departure)
The aim of the following international mobilities was to practise and promote the use of Community Mediation and active participation tools in order to carry out a project/event on Community Mediation in all local communities involved. Volunteers were fully involved in each organization’s activities and supported the associations in implementing the local projects based on the Community Mediation approach.
Local project on Community Mediation (approximately the 4th month of EVS projects)
Each organization drew up and implemented, in cooperation with EVS volunteers, a project dealing with the Community Mediation approach on a topic which was relevant for them. In the second part of this tool, referents of the different organization recall and analyse their experience.
Final evaluations – redefinitions of project outputs: 19-25 September, Atlixco-Puebla, Mexico and 18-24 October 2017, Genoa, Italy
Referents of each organizations and former EVS volunteers participated to these activities. The goal was to evaluate the project activities, their impact on volunteers, organizations and local communities, to redefine the contents of this tool within the group, review website contents, and identify possible strategies to launch a follow-up to CoMedY.