JECI-MIEC Training Session 2021 in Malta

JECI-MIEC Training Session: Today’s Students = Tomorrow’s Responsables support by the European Youth Foundation, which took place in Birkirkara, Malta from 5th to 12th of September 2021 sought to equip representatives of youth organisations from across Europe with skills and knowledge necessary for the promotion of positive personal mental health and in ensuring the positive mental health of the members of their respective organisations. The training session identified best practices across several key domains that when contextualised and adopted will allow individuals and organisations to better promote positive mental health, while also combating pressures that pose risks to mental health of members and volunteers. This report first outlines the main themes explored during the training session including mental health awareness, communication, funding partners and resources, and it will conclude by outlining the best practices regarding each of these themes identified by the participants.

On 6th of September we officially opened our Training Session. We had the opportunity to discover the participating organizations and how they work. We delved deeper into that by making a SWOT analysis of every organization and later we found out ways to collectively correct the weaknesses and to grow our strengths. In order to ask for the presence of God throughout the entire week, our chaplain, fr. Sergio Fenech, celebrated Mass in the evening. At the end of the day we got to discover the countries from which the participants came at the Intercultural Market of Organizations.

On Tuesday our first topic that was discussed was Mental Health Awareness. Our first guest was Melvin Calleja from Richmond Foundation Malta. In his presentation we found out many things about mental health such as how mental illnesses appear, how we can prevent them and how to relate to people who experience these illnesses. We also got to talk about a few of these diseases such as anxiety, depression and psychosis. In the afternoon we got to talk to Valentina Bezzina from STEPS Malta about empathy and we delved deeper into relating to people suffering from anxiety and depression. At the end of the day we enjoyed a fun Escape Route that showed us how competitive our participants are.

The following day we talked about communication skills. First of all we learned from Karl Vella a few theoretical things about in person communication and how to give a successful speech. After that Mauro Fenech, also from STEPS Malta, gave us a course about graphics design showing us how to create a poster or any kind of promotional materials. In the afternoon we had the opportunity of putting into practice the skills we received in the morning. Divided into teams, our participants had to create a podcast about our Training Session, to make a video about Mental Health Awareness, a presentation about anxiety, social media and posters advertising future events. The day was concluded with a cooperative research game.

On Thursday we got to relive past JECI-MIEC moments and to learn more about IYCS and IMCS at a global level through expert panels. First we got to talk virtually but also live, with Maria Koutatzi who was our European Coordinator from 1991 to 1994, Johan Vanhove who worked for our organization’s office in the 90’s , Mihai Floran and Maximilian Niessen, both former European Coordinators, who joined us on a video call. We found out beautiful and interesting things about their period in leading JECI-MIEC, their motivations to get involved, their greatest challenges and how they managed to solve them. We received lots of advice about how to work both on an international level but also on a national and local level. The next panel introduced us to the global reality of IYCS and IMCS with the help of our guests, Innocent Odongo (IYCS Secretary General) and Ravi Tissera (IMCS-Pax Romana International President). They encouraged us to get involved as much as possible in our movements and not to hesitate to get involved on an international level. The afternoon took us to La Valletta, the capital city of Malta. There Mr Kurt Cortis  presented what Malta European Services is, how they help the maltese people and ways to access European Funds. And, since there was no day in this Training Session without a fun part, we discovered the petite capital of the country through a Treasure Hunt that brought us to a lot of points with touristic interest in La Valletta. The fun continued as we took dinner out and socialised a lot.

In the last two days our participants had the opportunity to use all the information they received in this Training Session. After an online panel with Mrs Kiia Huttunen from the European Youth Foundation on Friday morning, our activity was concluded by project writing. Divided in teams, our students had to imagine an European Activity and to write the requested project, finding out opportunities to receive funds, partners and ways to implement their ideas. After each team presented their work, we thanked God for all the things He offered us this week at the Mass. The Closing Ceremony was followed by a fun Awards Ceremony where some of the participants found an amazing award for everyone.

Even though this week ended, the Training Session doesn’t end here. Every participant now shares the information in the national organization as he or she now implements the best practices gathered this week. We thank God for helping us in this important journey and for being with us at this Training Session.

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