Youth cultural inclusion of young people (with and without handicap)
In youth cultural activities, young people learn to enjoy their own skills, strengthen their self-confidence and are promoted in their existing interests. In mixed groups, they learn to live together socially. Through youth cultures, children and young people can also take on new roles in the social space and actively participate in social life. We understand inclusion not only as the removal of specific barriers for people with a physical impairment and people with learning difficulties. Rather, we refer to the ideal of an inclusive society in which all social barriers can be overcome, regardless of whether they are linked to socially imposed conditions based on gender, family history (e.g. migration history), class relations or disability. Applied to our concrete fields of work, this means first of all creating spaces in which different perspectives, needs and interests can be expressed as freely as possible. Afterwards, the similarities and contradictions that emerge are processed playfully in inclusive, youth-cultural group activities. This initiates experiential learning in which the participants mutually reinforce and develop each other. We understand inclusion as a process.
Youth Cultural Learning Expanding
With this in mind, between April 2014 and March 2017, as part of the "IN_Cultures" project, we dedicated ourselves to the question of how youth cultural learning can be further opened up to the needs of young people with impairments. In a first step, we put the methods and workshop formats developed by cultures interactive e. V. to the test and interwove them with successful concepts of inclusion. Starting in November 2014, the resulting inclusive methods, workshop formats and curricula were put into practice. A total of six impulse project days were held at the youth clubs Statthaus Böcklerpark in Berlin-Kreuzberg and Jugendhaus Königstadt in Berlin-Pankow. Up to 60 young people took part in each of these project days in four workshops. This was followed by 14 days of peer training in both social spaces, the highlights of which were five-day trips to Weimar (2015) and Potsdam (2016).
During the peer training, 30 young people with and without disabilities dealt intensively with the theory and practice of various youth cultures. Among other things, they developed a breakdance show into which they incorporated different musical influences, from Syrian pop to German rap music. The time they spent together was each documented in a self-produced video. The young people aged between ten and 23 who took part in the various IN_Cultures measures largely live in the social areas around the two youth clubs. Some of them also came from the surrounding neighborhoods or from other parts of Berlin. The participants attend different types of schools: Community schools, special schools and high schools. Quite a few of them were students in welcome classes.
Not only the participating young people gained a lot of experience in this model project, but also the IN_Cultures team can look back on an extremely insightful time. Measured against the original objectives, IN_Cultures brought to light both the limits and, above all, the possibilities of inclusive youth culture work. The limits primarily coincide with the limited time frame of a (model) project. Even if it was comparatively much project time that was available for our measures, the sustainable development of inclusive peer groups, of circles of friends of peers with and without impairments, can probably be enabled much more in the context of activities that are embedded in the long term in everyday life, and in regular structures.
How do I design inclusive offers for open youth work? How to adapt youth cultural learning to the needs of young people with disabilities? These are important questions to address in order to realize the idea of an inclusive society. While the debate on inclusion in schools occupies a large space in the public discussion, the leisure sector is hardly taken into account. However, not only school but also leisure time plays an important role in the lives of young people and there is undoubtedly a close interaction between school and out-of-school processes. If inclusion outside of school is successful, this has a stabilizing effect on the entire inclusion process.
In youth cultural activities such as djing, radio production, rap, breakdancing or parcour, young people learn to enjoy their own skills, strengthen their self-confidence and are promoted in their existing interests. In mixed groups, they learn social togetherness. Through youth cultures, children and young people can take on new roles in the social space and actively participate in social life. The aim is to break down physical, mental and social barriers that impede access to youth leisure activities and to create attractive inclusive youth culture offerings. In cooperation with the Berlin districts of Pankow and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, we would like to develop a model for this that is suitable for the target group and thus make a contribution within the framework of the "European Strategy in Favor of People with Disabilities".
The primary goal of IN_Cultures was to develop offers for and with young people with disabilities. The experience of self-efficacy was to be combined with the strengthening of respectful and open interaction in mixed groups, recognition of diversity and practical learning.
Practical learning in diverse groups
The project was aimed at people between the ages of 14 and 27 with and without handicaps. In this context, "handicap" means the confrontation with a disadvantageous life situation, a limited possibility to participate in society due to physical, psychological and/or social impairments.
April 2014 until March 2017