How Can Youth Empowerment and a Sense of Belonging Benefit From Creative Arts?

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Maggie Laidlaw, Ilona van Breugel, Eleonora Psenner and  Francesca Lori

Creativity has a universal language that crosses all borders. It teases out, questions and challenges our thoughts from micro to macro politics. It allows us to express ourselves without pre-fabricated barriers, and offers us an insight into experiences unlike our own. VOLPOWER explores how creative practices enable young migrants and their peers in host communities to express themselves to each other.

This expression unfolds the everyday and harnesses the mundane and transforms it into an interactive process for social inclusion. Creativity not only unfolds on the individual level, it can also be observed and triggered among groups in organizations where knowledge and ideas are exchanged. Place-making through arts overcomes isolation and offers tools to meet the “other” in yourself and yourself in the other. It opens up spaces to reflect, re-consider perspectives and look beyond the everyday and local setting. Studying data and activities involving youth participants in Italy, the Netherlands, and Slovenia during 2019 as part of the VOLPOWER project, we explore how arts and culture takes the role of universal language and of “free space” where practices of self-expression, dialogue, and conflict management (at individual and collective levels) unfold.

This article covers a few of the creative arts activities which young volunteers (18-27 years old) participated in as part of the VOLPOWER project. VOLPOWER explores activities with and within different volunteering organisations in Italy, the Netherlands and Slovenia, ranging from dance and circus schools to cooking, photography, and theatre. This article will focus on three of these activities.

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