VICTA teamed up with Act Global CIC in December to run a youth weekend in Bala, Wales. The activity centre set on the side of Bala Lake has outstanding views (when the weather lifted enough to see them!). It is a Welsh speaking centre, so all the volunteers and young people had a chance to learn some Welsh words and sayings. Act Global provided a group of 23 volunteers from six different countries who arrived ahead of the young people for training. After the volunteers had settled and had a night’s sleep to recover from their journeys they awoke to a morning packed full of seminars and workshops. This gave everyone the chance to get to know each other and learn a little about what the weekend would involve. The afternoon session saw group presentations about each of the countries represented – Romania, Greece, Turkey, Netherlands, Italy and the UK. This provided lots of laughs and broke down any prejudices… not all Romanians are vampires! The group gelled well together after more team building games, dinner and talking into the night.
The theme for the weather seemed to be wet and cold but that failed to dampen the spirits of the volunteers. The next couple of days saw a variety of workshops and training exercises. This included an introduction to visual impairments: some of the volunteers were teachers of the visually impaired in their own countries so were able to bring their own knowledge and experience to the group. They learnt about different eye conditions and had a go at threading a needle, writing their name, building a tower, tying a shoelace and sorting beads while wearing a blindfold or simulation spectacles. All then had the opportunity to guide each other with a blindfold on to experience what it may be like for a visually impaired young person. They had a go at making their own sandwich blindfolded and appreciated eating it afterwards! There were activities to master, all blindfolded and in the rain. This included climbing walls, abseiling and the high ropes course. The volunteers embraced the activities and most had a go. It highlighted to them the difficulties faced by our blind and partially sighted young people.
On Friday the 16 young people arrived. The volunteers were noticeably worried and nervous about how they would manage. They went off with the new arrivals and showed them their rooms before doing some orientation. The evening was an intercultural sharing of foods and traditions and everyone enjoyed this part of the day and began to relax around each other.
Saturday and Sunday saw us canoeing, swimming, doing the high ropes course and climbing. The feedback from the volunteers was that they were amazed that the blind youths had a go at everything. The young people were delighted that the volunteers were so helpful and friendly. Many friendships across the group were formed and personal details exchanged.
Monday was departure day and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Everyone wanted to stay for longer and develop their new found friendships further.
Videos made by Act Global from the youth weekend