On 19-28 June 2023, YMCA Ukraine embarked on an inspiring journey of implementing a youth forum in Verkhovyna, Carpathian Mountains. The event titled “Create a Peaceful Future!” is the Roots Peace Award 2023 Winner project. With a primary focus on discussing the ongoing war in Ukraine and envisioning the personal development of young individuals in the post-war era, the forum strives to pave the way for a harmonious and meaningful tomorrow.
The event aimed to develop the spirit, mind and body of each participant, implementing YMCA values, improving children’s health and recreation, involving them in social movement and providing them with the opportunity to learn English.
More than 45 children aged 7-17 took part in the summer camp,“including children of military personnel, kids with socially underprivileged status or those from internally displaced and vulnerable families from Verkhovyna District”; the leaders and instructors were young people aged 18 and over.
To achieve this goal, the camp leaders and instructors covered important topics such as life values, spirituality, leadership and volunteering skills, and promoted a healthy lifestyle. Various activities were organised to develop soft skills and relax from stress, including hiking in the Carpathian Mountains, excursions to Hutsul museums, swimming in the river and pool, master classes (wood carving, beading, knitting, drawing, burning, creative and decorative arts), art therapy, scouting training, competitions various quests (day and evening), games, training sessions, English lessons, dance and song competitions, sports competitions, yoga, fitness, film screenings, visits to the rope park, climbing wall, campfire and disco evenings, and work with psychologists. We also held a Peace Day at the camp, where participants discussed mechanisms of partnership and peacebuilding.
One of the forum’s key achievements was the development of a comprehensive roadmap for self-development and peacebuilding. This empowering roadmap offers a clear and structured path for the youth to embrace their roles as catalysts for positive change in the aftermath of conflicts.
Adding a touch of creativity and expression, the participants prepared a performance titled “Create a Peaceful Future.”
To further enrich the event, YMCA Europe Roots for Peace staff joined the participants online during the forum, sharing invaluable experiences in conflict resolution, particularly during the war and in the crucial post-war period. They shed light on the significance of the Do No Harm methodology, emphasizing its potential to pave the way for lasting peace and understanding.
An eminent presence during the forum was Professor Ankica Dragin from the University of Belgrade and a revered Roots expert. Professor Dragin emphasized the critical importance of employing the Do No Harm methodology and shared her experience of successful cooperation in YMCA Europe projects.
As the winner of the Roots Peace Medal 2023, YMCA Ukraine’s unwavering commitment to fostering a peaceful and united society continues to inspire us all. Together, let us applaud their remarkable initiative and support the young leaders who dare to dream of a brighter, more harmonious world.