YEU Cyprus partnered with 5 other NGOs from all over Europe, to realize the “Journey to Your Happiness” Training Course. Specifically, the partners were the Portuguese organization Aventura Marão Clube, Fundació Catalunya Voluntària from Spain, CYA KRIK from f.Y.R.O.M, the Italian NGO Bel Quel, and “Jeunesse Dans la Ville” from Martinique. This resulted in a diverse group of 24 people, who all came together in Pedoulas from the 8th until the 16th of April, to explore the concept of happiness.
The project was supported by the European Commission, through the Erasmus+ program. The methods used during the Training Course were based on Non-Formal Education and Experiential Learning.
The project’s aim was to inspire young people to focus on what makes them happy, which will ultimately make them stronger, more motivated, and inspire active citizenship. Happiness is an important, yet often ignored concept in modern societies. Today’s youth is burdened by issues related to terrorism attacks, the economic crisis, youth unemployment, the recent Brexit, and other social situations arising from massive migrations of people across nations. These, amongst others, are spreading uncertainty and insecurity amongst the youth of Europe, enhancing racism, nationalism and extremism and thus significantly decreasing happiness levels.
The trainers, Panayiota Ignatiou and Miranda Zavrou focused on 10 specific objectives:
1) Making giving to others sustaining,
2) Relating and connecting with people,
3) Taking care of our bodies,
4) Living life mindfully,
5) Keep learning new things
6) Setting new goals,
7) Building on people’s natural resilience, skills and thinking tools,
8) Focusing on feeling good,
9) Treating one’s self,
10) Developing a sense of purpose and understanding.
Activities included teambuilding exercises, discussions on the topic of happiness, physical activities, such as yoga, dance and tai-chi workshops, and even an Act-it-Out in downtown Nicosia. During the Act-it-Out, the participants gave out free hugs to people passing by, measured their level of happiness, and asked “What makes you happy”, to affect people into thinking a little bit more about the small things in life that make us happy. In the words of Sara Cobos and Judit Barberà, two of the Spanish participants in the Training Course, the Act-it-Out was performed “to share happiness with the inhabitants of Nicosia both on the Greek side and the Turkish side, because happiness does not understand borders or flags”.
Before and after their arrival in Cyprus the participants completed the “Happiness measurement survey”, which indicated that after their participation their happiness levels were higher. Young people, thus, can make realistic changes in their everyday life in order to gain the motivation to become active citizens and participate in democratic life within the European framework.