Project Reference: 2019-3-BG01-KA105-077946
Country: Bulgaria
Type of Project: Youth workers mobility
Number of sent participants: 3

Our modern world is constantly facing complicated and interconnected social problems that are more complex than we fully understand, and open to multiple interpretations based on one’s point of view. Poverty, unemployment, racism or drug abuse among young people are all perfect examples of social problems. We see traditional tools to addressing social challenges provide solutions with little impact and almost no sustainability in terms of significant change and that new approaches towards public sector innovation are required.
The objectives of “Designing Social Change” project are to empower youth workers, youth leaders and practitioners in the nonprofit and social sectors to use a creative approach for hands-on problem solving, to create better products, services, and experiences that keep people’s needs at the core and to work in more effective, human, and strategic ways with greater shared understanding. Over the past decade, human-centred design has emerged as a possible answer to dealing with societal challenges. This is a creative practical approach to problem-solving that starts with people and ends with innovative solutions that are tailor-made to suit their needs. As a tool it increases the possibility of creating impactful solutions by putting the person who will gain most at the heart of the innovation process. So we’ve designed a training course that can get the human-centered design methodology out to the world.
This course will introduce the human-centered design process and the way it can be applied to develop initiatives with social impact. Usually, people working with youth are striving to create change within complex systems, and their organizations tend to be resource-constrained when dealing with social challenges. Here arises the need for specific mindsets. Reflecting the underlying spirit that big problems demand innovative, impactful solutions these mindsets are core to human-centered design. The training is based on action-learning teaching approach to guide youth workers towards practical application of the mindsets, principles and good practices.
According to the human-centered design principles we want to discard the myth of success achieved by single individuals for a vision of people working together to build good things. Having this in mind we cooperate with nine organizations from across all Europe to aid us in our mission to provide practical skills for transformative change.
Designing Social Change project has one main activity – Mobility of youth workers, Training course. In the activity will take part 33 participants from 10 countries: the host country Bulgaria, Hungary, Portugal, Italy, Malta, The Republic of North Macedonia, Netherlands, Greece, Poland and Serbia. During 7 days in April they will be guided towards practical application of the mindsets, principles and good practices of human-centered design. Essentials of the training course are learning to focus upon the people, to identify the right problem and to find impactful solution.
The activity success depends to a large extent on the motivation and appropriateness of participants that each partner organization will send to Bulgaria. According to the training course objectives, with a maximum potential to effectively apply the gained skills and knowledge will be youth workers, youth leaders, youth mentors, youth mediators and stakeholders in the youth sector. We identify they would likely contribute to the overall goal of capacity building and project impact in the long term. Other relevant characteristics of the participants profile include commitment to the learning process, necessity of applying creative problem solving approach in the daily work with young people, strong motivation for self development, openness to different cultures, ideas and opinions, good English level age 18 or older.
Starting with all directly involved, this project will influence in many ways the interaction between social environment and young people.
We foresee a shift in the daily work of our participants, which are youth workers, youth leaders, youth mediators and stakeholders in the youth field, especially with regard to the way they approach young people and involve them in their initiatives. After the training course participants will have the methods to communicate and observe the world that surrounds their beneficiaries to better understand what drives them. They will also master the human-centered design process and principles for creating innovative solutions to real-world challenges which will make their efforts much more efficient and applicable to the youth social environment.
We expect applying the human-centered design mindsets and principles to significantly improve the ability of youth-led and youth-serving organizations to develop and implement initiatives and programs that impact young people and engage them, their families and communities, so that youth can reach their full potential. The participating organizations will adopt an internal philosophy to “bring back the human element” and build a sense of community, which will not only influence the cohesion between their members, but will become physically evident in work they do for young people.
Among all the stakeholders that the project is focused on, the biggest target group are young people. Directly and indirectly they will be the most impacted by the project. The engagement of youth in assessing their particular strengths and needs will lead to reduction of violence and social exclusion, overcoming economic hardship, unemployment, and cultural and linguistic barriers as well. By helping young people pursue their aspirations, we will empower them to have an equal voice in all aspects of social life, to contribute to, and benefit from, the creation of more peaceful and prosperous communities. Strengthening systems in local communities will enable sustainable outcomes in health care, education, policy making and economics at large. In this regard, many institutions and organizations across sectors, and the society as a whole, also appear a stakeholders. The implementation of this project will influence them indirectly by reinforcing empathy and recognizing the importance of moving youth-focused strategies forward.
At regional and national levels the effect of the project will become visible with the organization of public events disseminating the its results when each partner will engage not only their existing networks, but also cross-sectoral stakeholder groups from all over the country. As we all know, empathy and understanding of people are universal values all over the world when striving to achieve a positive social change. We won’t be able to measure the project impact in this regard, but еven the slightest shift for good induced by our work and Designing Social Change project to foster the international amity will be considered a huge success.