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Bi-weekly narrative report, March 29 - April 11, 2021 Flipbook PDF

Bi-weekly narrative report, March 29 - April 11, 2021


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PEACEFUL RHYTHMS & YOUTH ALUMNI NETWORK BI-WEEKLY REPORT

MARCH 29 - APRIL 11, 2021

Background

“Peaceful Rhythms” is a MindLeaps project that started in Skopje, North Macedonia, in February 2020. Its overall goal is to develop a sense of community, unity, and resilient behavior in adolescents in Skopje. The project will reach up to 360 adolescents and train up to 20 leaders/coaches in Skopje in the MindLeaps’ methodology. “MindLeaps Youth Alumni Network” is another MindLeaps project, also sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Skopje that started in October 2020. It seeks to build a permanent, motivated group of youth leaders from different backgrounds, that indirectly decrease the likelihood of youth extremism and discrimination through the coordination and execution of ongoing programs. The project will reach 50 youth who have already showed signs of increased resiliency and positivity in vulnerable communities, and empower up to 6 youth leaders from the Alumni Network to take on its leadership.

This bi-weekly narrative report covers the activities, events and results achieved in the period from March 29 - April 11, 2021. Covid-19 measures of the Government of North Macedonia have had a direct impact on the project activities - as of April 6 there is a Government decision prohibiting any group gathering in schools such as the one we exercise for the dance classes. This is a result of the increasing numbers of reported infections and deaths on a daily basis - over 1200 new reported cases of infections in most days of the last week, which now does affect project operations, especially the dance component and onsite alumni events. The situation is expected to change for the better when vaccines start to be administered, during the month of April, as announced. Objectives 1, 2, and 3 cover the activities and events from the “Peaceful Rhythms” project. Objective 1a covers activities and events from the project, “MindLeaps Youth Alumni Network”, as it reflects Phase 1 and 2 of the project, which is to retain and deepen the engagement of 50 youth who have already showed signs of increased resiliency and positivity in vulnerable communities (mostly from/in Cair), as well as to use innovative programming that builds on the previously expressed interests of these youth to develop between 2 to 5 small businesses and/or community projects that are executed by youth and involve cooperation, teamwork and long-term vision.

Activities Objective #1: Demonstrably improve social-emotional learning through dance and data Target: 240 participants between the ages of 14 – 18 years, from March 2020 to April 2021 In this bi-weekly period there were 9 dance classes (of 2 hours each) in total at the school '25 May', Skopje - from the 18 classes planned for each bi-weekly period. This is because there

Photos from a dance class at school "25 May" on April 4, 2021 were dance classes only in the first week of the period, whereas as of April 6, as explained above in the text, the classes are in pause until restrictions are lifted. Fifty-five students in total are participating regularly in classes. The data is now entered in Tracker by dance teachers and pictures are submitted after each class.

General performance indicators, as well as progress in language, teamwork and students' creativity - three of seven skills developed with the dance program

Results for the weeks of March 29 - April 11, 2021:

9 classes (18 hours in total) held during reporting period 55 students participated in dances classes during reporting period End-of-month presentation for team North Macedonia Average progress from grade 2 to grades 4 and 5 for some social-emotional learning skills, as can be seen from analytics images from Tracker

Objective #1a: To retain and deepen the engagement of 50 youth who have already showed signs of increased resiliency and positivity in vulnerable communities (mostly from/in Cair) and to use innovative programming that builds on the previously expressed interests of these youth to develop between 2 to 5 small businesses and/or community projects that are executed by youth and involve cooperation, teamwork and long-term vision During this bi-weekly period the dance trainers and project coordinator participated on the program on national TV Shenja to present the MindLeaps activities in North Macedonia, particularly the dance project. The program was recorded and will air on April 18 from 9pm.

Photos from the recording the TV program Konaku on TV Shenja

Another event which took place during this reporting period is the end-of-month presentation, which took place on April 1, 2021, for the previous month of March. Team North Macedonia presented the monthly activities and the plan for the month of April In addition to this, the team had also prepared a draft annual-work plan for 2021. In this plan, apart from the core activities which are planned with the ongoing projects, the team had also organized a series of consultations and a workshop during March in order to incorporate students' interest and project ideas for the following period. Most of those ideas made it to be part of the workplan, which needs to be detailed and start to implement. The discussion was followed by a few questions and comments from the participants.

Photo from the MindLeaps strategic meeting on March 18, 2021

Results for the weeks of March 29 - Apri 11, 2021:

Recording of TV program with participation of dance trainers and coordinator End of month presentation, including annual workplan Alumni are in regular touch via social media on a daily basis - discussing initiatives and projects

Objective #2: Developing communication and entrepreneurship skills among youth Target: 120 participants, from March 2020 to April 2021 Communications and Business Entrepreneurship are the other two main components of Peaceful Rhythms following the Dance & Data program. During this bi-weekly period the project staff posted the call for students to enroll in the Marketing and Social Media course. The plan was developed by Rebecca Davis, and is intended for students in North Macedonia who are interested to be equipped with strategies to develop their personal and professional profiles to achieve their individual objectives. This course will integrate marketing and communications theory with practical applications on social media platforms. Lectures will explore messaging and best practices while exercises/homework will involve creating various posts on social media that apply the lessons learned. At the conclusion of the course, students will present media projects. The call will last until April 13, and along with this, there are 2 other calls - one for a Teaching Assistant for this course, and the other one for the position of Project Assistant, as Besiana Mustafa stepped down due to obligations at school.

Results for the weeks of March 29 - April 11, 2021: Marketing and Social Media course announced Applications accepted and proccesed

Objective #3: Reduce the Risk of Radicalization among Youth in Cair Target: 360 youth touched directly by project end date, April 2021 This objective is reached through the development of a strong group of local youth trainers that teach the core programs: Dance & Data, Business Entrepreneurship, and Communications. Currently, there are between 80-100 youth who are regularly active (in both dance and youth/alumni project). The group is diverse in terms of ethnicity, community, religion, gender, and interests/area of study. Their regular and long-term engagement in the program with their peers works towards the overall goal of reducing the risk of radicalization – because they get to know each other, all coming from different social and ethnic backgrounds. Furthermore, the overall goal of the project, and the specific objectives were explained on the TV during the recording of the show, with the aim to increase awareness of the community about the risks the youth is facing, and possible negative consequences due to lack of opportunities, meaningful programs and inclusion in social activities. The concept and the problem of radicalized youth is recognized as a key problem which youth in Skopje are facing in their communities, due to multiple factors - such as lack of meaningful content and activities, besides school. That is especially true during the pandemic, where school is also online. The youth who participates in the project activities are one of the factors who will directly contribute to this specific objective, by means of speaking about the problem, and also involving other peers in youth work. They are already working on youth community project ideas and seeking to involve more peers in their goals and cause. Objective #4: Ensure sustainability of the program Identification of 6 youth leaders from the Alumni Network to take on its leadership and recruit new members of various ethnic backgrounds is one of the key conditions to the sustainability of the project. The project staff (international and local) is putting focus and effort on this matter regularly with youth alumni. The project is partnering with media to increase its presence in the community and promote its activities. It is also important to mention that a good core of youth is regularly active in all activities that the project organizes. This is a strength which may be leveraged to help build sustainability, or at least create a community of youth who know each other, work together, feel good about it, and may initiate other things together in the future.

The MindLeaps strategic planning process in which staff from North Macedonia is participating, as well as the draft annual workplan will help not onlt shape the focus of the local programs based on the needs of the beneficiaries, but also help in seeking funding opportunities for the following period.

Results for the weeks of March 29 - April 11, 2021:

Improving and strengthening connections among alumni through regular events Empowering and expanding the project team to develop activities in the following months Increasing visibility in media and social media and youth community social networks