Jumping out of Comfort Zone – What Nature has to Offer for Supporting Unemployed Youngsters? Part 1 (#62/100)
by Niina Rautiainen, Project Manager, Project manager, Community educator, Teacher and Wilderness guide, Tampereen seudun Työllistämisyhdistys Etappi ry, Luontopolkua eteenpäin Project
How can activities in nature like for example hiking, making igloos, studying first aid, sitting by the fire or making the fire support act of becoming employed one day? What can nature offer to the school world? Is nature activities and time spending in nature environment a total waste of time and money, as well?
Tampereen seudun Työllistämisyhdistys Etappi ry offers working opportunities on 6 different workshops for unemployed people around Pirkanmaa. Etappi offers also one unique opportunity for enemployed youngsters under 29-years-old. Luontopolkua eteenpäin is a project of Etappi (2013-2017) which is funded by STEA (funding centre for Social Welfare and Health Organizations). Luontopolkua eteenpäin project offers 3 month long workshops (5 days/week, 5 hours /day). The project offers also shorter ten-day groups. The main goals of Luontopolkua eteenpäin project is to help youngster to find their own path, motivation and strenght to go forward on that path.
Nature, new experiences, new challenges, good team spirit, positive encouragement, peers, co-operation for achieving common goals bring people closer to each other and give strength and personal resources. The group also helps individuals to reflect experiences and bring up different views on matters.
Once I gave our youngsters a task to write an short introduction how they see Luontopolku. This is what they wrote:
”Luontopolku is a workshop which emphasises nature activities and learning by doing. It is a place where one gets closer to nature and also to oneself. We have explored diffent kinds of studying possibilities and opportunities to find work. Here you can learn wilderness, interaction and social skills on a safe and trustworthy environment. We have had opportunities to challenge and exceed ourselfs on a new situations. We have learned for example to hike in the forest, build up tents, use campstoves, ride a horse, paddle canoe, climbing skills and first aid. According to our experience this workshop increases courage, self-confidence, acceptance, tolerance towards oneself and others, responsibility and commitment on a good spirit.”
So let’s go back to the very first question.
What does nature has to offer for supporting employment of unemployed youngsters?
During the past five years of working in the nature environment with the unemployed youngsters, I have learned that nature has to offer a lot. We could and should use our Finnish resourses more. Jumping out of your comfort zone, facing new learning environments and experiences with the support of a good group will increase one’s ability to face challenges in life as well. Through nature activities and spending time in nature we can gain a lot of inner resources which will also support goals for finding one’s own path and eventually a satisfying career.
” In the nature I started to open up more and speak more to people around me. Previously I was very shy. I could not say out loud what I had in mind. When we sat around the fire I just started to speak. I didn’t have to be scared about others condemning me in any way. I felt that by the fire others wanted to hear me, they sat still and were present on that moment, there was no hurry and everybody were compassionate.”
The very importat lesson is to learn to respect oneself and others, learn to communicate and do co-operation, find things that one is good at and enjoys, find courage to face challenges and survive in those situations, find positive sides of life, find social connections, hear others saying that you are ok and even more (respect and positive encourage). The power of good group spririt can not be too much underlined. Many of our youngsters have faced bullying in school and that has had effect on them in many ways. Some say that they don’t want to go back to school because of fear of being bullied again. Positive group experiences can support and encourage them to start believing possibilites in life again.
Tampereen seudun Työllistämisyhdistys Etappi ry and Luontopolkua eteenpäin project of Etappi (STEA) have a good partnership in introducing Vocational Education and Training to umeployed young students, looking for their own path, motivation and strength. Also, TAKK is hosting a Luontokuvista Valoa ja Voimaa elämänpoluille photo exhibition.