ACT!
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Socialization of long-term unemployed through adapted sport games and physical activities

Technical University of Gabrovo, Bulgaria

Partners: Municipality of Gabrovo, Bulgaria, BORO, Bulgaria, Pirkanmaa Westcome Adult, Education, Finland, KEPA, Greece, Fernando Santi Basilicata, Italy, COOPARMAZE, CRL, Portugal, Knowsley Community College, UK

Abstract/Summary:

The project SOCUNEMPLOYEDSPORT is in the frame of the SOCRATES (Grundtvig) programme and was initiated with a view to the European Year of Education through Sport 2004. The project aims at using SPORT as a pedagogical tool for acquiring social skills and higher level of activity on civic issues. The training system to be created is envisaged to help long-term unemployed adults to develop social skills through practicing adapted sport games so that they can achieve more active life styles and better physical fitness, which in turn will motivate them to search for jobs.

Participants: As a target group: Long-term unemployed.

As institutions: Universities (from BG and UK), training organizations (from Finland, Greece, Italy and Portugal), local authorities (from BG), social organizations (from BG).

Rationale/Background:

A survey shows that long-term unemployed adults suffer most both in terms of employment and social opportunities. They live in a world of their own where they are inactive viewers of the society and the labour market which results in a low level of motivation, self-respect, responsibility, self-confidence, self-expectations and psychological well-being. This leads to their isolation (personal, social and employment), inactivity, both physical and social. Therefore, there is a high need for a comprehensible training system which can help those people acquire certain social values so that they can easily integrate into society thus improving their emotional state, flexibility, self-respect, and self-efficacy, which in turn will lead to better social contacts, employment opportunities and personal achievements.

Target Group and Context:

Direct target group: long-term unemployed

Indirect target group: adults with lowered physical fitness; short-term unemployed; students with lowered physical fitness

Special characteristics: low level of motivation, self-confidence, self-awareness and integration skills; high-level of stress; threatened of diseases because of their inactive way of living (very often overweight problems), inactivity at all levels.

Description of participants’ profiles (it could also be seen in the table):

One group of 10 people (6 males + 4 females; 7 age 18-35; 3 age 35-50; 1 primary education, 6 secondary education, 3 higher education).

Objectives:

  • To develop a training system for socialization of long-term unemployed adults through adapted sports games and physical activities;
  • To develop a methodology for assessing social skills and the level of physical activity;
  • To promote social values through sport;
  • To create social contacts outside home environment;
  • To increase the level of health and fitness;
  • To increase employment opportunities, recreation activities and social endeavours;
  • To promote cooperation among social partners, local authorities, universities and training organizations;
  • To promote trans-European cooperation.

Informal Learning Activities:

The training process was carried out within the period 15.05.2006 - 20.07.2006 in Bulgaria. It was organized by BORO, an Agency for Human Resources Selection, responsible for the selection of trainees, and by the Technical University of Gabrovo (Coordinator), responsible for the provision of teachers/trainers and sport facilities, as well as for the very training. Two sport trainers and one teacher in Sociology and Psychology were involved in the teaching process in Bulgaria.

The training system is based on 3 course books (Adapted Team Games, Adapted Individual Games, Artistic Physical Activities) including descriptions and rules for the adapted sport games and physical activities, a self-study kit (printed and CD-ROM) and a methodological guide for teachers/trainers.

The course is designed for 10 weeks – 2 sport sessions + after-session social skills exercises a week.

Actually, there were 10 weeks of training, 2 sessions a week (a total of 20 training sessions). Each session included sport activities (in particular adapted sport games) followed by social skills exercises.

Evaluation:

The evaluation process is carried out according to the assessment methodology approved by SOCUNEMPLOYEDSPORT partnership at their Third Project Meeting in Portugal and the ACT! evaluation methodology.

Seven competences (topics) are chosen for the evaluation of the whole group. The topics and used methods of data collection, chosen from toolbox as accepted by ACT! partnership, could be seen in the table below. Together with other evaluation methods (observation, group discussion, case study etc.) tests or questionnaires are used obligatory. The questions in them are oriented to help evaluators to assess the objective state of the trainees and the whole group in order to be related to the most suitable level on the three dimensions.

Results:

At the beginning of the training, trainees were more motivated to participate actively in the sport sessions rather than in the social skills activities. However, as the training advanced, the trainees got more and more interested in their work on social skills. When asked at the end of the training about the balance between sport sessions and social skills exercises, the trainees answered that the Project Socialization Training System reached a very good balance. One of the trainees (female) said

“If there were not social skills exercises included, it wouldn’t be the same. We got aware about things that we hadn’t heard of before and now I know, for myself, that I am ahead of my competitors at the labour market.”

Conclusions as a result of the evaluation process:

Not only the duration of training is important but also the length of the period between the end of training and the evaluation. This particularly applies to the Activity dimension. To make a real progress within this dimension, the process of observation should be long enough.

When an individual is evaluated, a high level is impossible to be given unless this personality has the ability or willingness to progress. When a group is evaluated there is a greater possibility to give a high level because the tendency expressed by the different individuals within the group is taken into account.