This 6 months mobility project is an important opportunity for the beneficiary association to host a blind youth worker from Italy. It’s Vanessa who is 26 years old. She will work in the executive office of VIEWS International which is situated in Ans (Belgium). She currently works as a volunteer on a regular basis with her sending association, Unione Italiana dei Ciechi – Firenze.

The youth worker will support the organization in the realization of projects and activities with and for other young European visually impaired persons. So disabled people can work for themselves, they are not only users of services.

The youth worker will improve her skills in the project management field (writing an application form, preparing and setting up a project, implementing the activity, sharing the tasks with the other workers and leading together the activity, evaluation process).

During the mobility project Vanessa will learn more about the other EU funding programmes, because her task will be to look for other funding to realize activities in VI. Our youth worker will experience team working in a multicultural environment by improving her French knowledge. Local initiatives, like adapted leisure time activities, fundraising, coaching, will be also settled up during the 6 months project . At the end of the 6 months, the youth worker will have a better understanding of the daily work of an international association and will be able to compare and learn from the differences in youth working between Italy and Belgium.

This project will have a considerable impact on the youth worker as she is going to have the youth worker experience that she has dreamt to have by now; Vanessa will improve both her professional qualities as well as her personal qualities. After having this experience her future possibilities will be increased to find a professional job as a youth worker in Italy.

Testimony of Vanessa about her experience

During my 6-months youth work mobility project, I acquired new skills that I consider useful for the labour market and for my personal development too: I improved, for instance, English and French skills, European project management and design, communicational skills, time management skills, intercultural comprehension and team spirit.

I worked in a multicultural environment and I could experience the European dimension of the youth work.

I experienced different approaches and methods to organise visual impairement awareness sessions and slightly different way to manage dinners in the dark for the local community.

In addition, I got in touch with Belgian institutions which deal with visual impairment, so I could compare them with the Italian ones, discovering how services for blind are issued in the French community of Belgium. Now, my wish is to go deeper on this subject understanding in details how some aspects are managed. I’m for example interested in how the support for blind college students works; how the vocational trainings are arranged and if there are special vocational trainings for vip; how the support for getting special e-devices for blind (like a screen-reader) works; how blind people are supported when looking for a job placement and how to make it accessible…

To have worked with other blind youth worker from Belgium and from other countries (partners of VI) improved my self-esteem because I could understand that, even if there are several difficulties to overcome mainly related to visual issues (like reading paper-documents, filling in some unfriendly and inaccessible application forms…) this job is possible and feasible for a blind person.

So, this mobility project increased my self-esteem and self-image because, despite of my job possibilities in Italy, I felt more active and dynamic in this kind of work placement.

Together with the sighted colleagues, we realised that in order to allow a blind worker to work autonomously, some changes must be done: for example, all folders which contains projects have to be Braille labelled indicating the title and reference of the project; the shelves have to be ranged always in the same way so that the blind worker can always find what she / he needs. Then, sometimes the blind worker needs help to read paper-documents or to fill in inaccessible and unfriendly application forms. This is why, it was a good challenge and at the same time a good team working, or, if we want to say it in different words, the “solidarity aspect of this project”.

For sure, for me this experience was precious to understand how to work together with other youth workers and it stimulated a solidarity approach and mutual comprehension between us.

Nowadays, disabled people have fewer opportunities than non-disabled in the labour market and it is very hard to be engaged because the disability issue often goes upon all the skills and knowledge that a person has got.

For these reason, I find precious that the European Union, mainly thanks to its European programmes like Youth in Action, promotes the inclusion of people with fewer opportunities and encourages them to acquire new skills and competences, as well as their active participation in the society at all levels.

Last, I would like to thanks all the colleagues from Views International for the nice time spent together and the European commission to have subsidised my project in Views International.

Thanks to all for the great experience I had!