Youth Work

Youth work is an extra-curricular field of work, in that it involves specific leisure activities and is based on non-formal and informal learning processes and on voluntary participation. It promotes young people’s development in a multi-faceted manner, enabling them to become active outside their families, formal education, and work. Youth work activities and processes are self-managed, co-managed or managed under the guidance of educational staff (either full-time or voluntary youth workers and youth leaders) and can develop and change in line with various dynamics. Youth work is organised and delivered in different ways (e.g., by youth-led organisations, youth organisations and informal groups, and by youth services and public authorities) and is shaped at the local, regional, national and European level.

This is a definition of youth work we can find in „ETS Competence Model for Youth Workers to Work Internationally”.

According to our consortium, folklore ensembles meet many of the criteria, which are listed in the abovementioned definition. Participation in folklore groups is definitely extra-curricular. Group members do it in their free time, and it is not mandatory in their formal education programme. We can assume that for the majority of people in the folklore group, this is a leisure activity, they do it for pleasure, to fulfil the need for fun, contribution, and belonging.

It certainly meets the criteria of voluntary participation (unless parents or guardians force the person to attend, but that’s another matter – we can certainly assume that the vast majority of people do it of their own free will).

Being a part of a folklore group gives empowerment to young people, they are part of something bigger, and it gives them a sense of belonging. They can contribute to preserving cultural heritage, which is also a big motivation for many participants. Practising singing and dancing develop young people holistically, so they have skills that can come in handy when learning other dances, more modern ones, or singing songs other than folk songs.

Another element which is very important for the development of young people is performing on a stage for many people. This can influence their public presentation and performing skills (including public speaking). They are less afraid of presenting/speaking in front of a big audience. Youth is encouraged to take a leadership role in such a group. A sense of initiative is very valued. 

This is probably obvious to many, but the group also teaches teamwork – many of the dances are danced in a group, and good synchronisation and hard work by the whole team results in an interesting and exciting group dance for the audience to watch.

Not to be underestimated either, being in a folk group allows young people to get to know other peers and make friends, sometimes for life. Very often, youth can meet peers from other counties, which can result not only in friendship but also can help to them to practise foreign languages. 

Folklore ensembles are an important part of the local community. Youth can strengthen social bonds with members of society, get to know people and interact with them. Also, the folk group is often a hallmark of the town/municipality, and local people are very proud of it.

Folklore ensemble is not purely fulfilling the definition of youth worker because often the main purpose of exiting the group is the artistic performance and taking part in folklore festivals/competitions. However, we can notice many of the elements of youth work in such groups, and we believe that adding more NFE elements will benefit members and folklore ensembles. We believe that adding reflection on learning to activities and some workshops about communication would be a great asset. For this reason, we promote the incorporation of non-formal education elements into the activities of folklore groups, which is why we wanted to implement the “” project.