Sailing and adventure for well-being and resources for young people

  • 6.11.2023
  • News

The well-being, functional capacity and social inclusion of young people can be strengthened through adventure education and maritime training. The Venda – A new direction from the sea project provided young people with positive experiences in a supportive atmosphere and gave them opportunities for self-expression. The community and youth-oriented project achieved good results and the materials produced are available for use by young people and professionals.

The two-year Venda – new direction from the sea project, jointly implemented by Y-Säätiö, ValoValmennusyassociation and the Finnish Sailing Foundation, ended in spring 2023. According to the evaluation report by Saija Turunen, Research Manager at Y-Säätiö, the project succeeded in achieving its objectives: the social inclusion, functional ability, education and work-life skills of the young people who participated in sea coaching and other activities were strengthened.

Continuity of projects as an asset

Venda was a continuation of the Meriheimo project, which ended in 2020 and was also based on maritime coaching and adventure education methods. The experience of the Meriheimo project provided a solid foundation for building an effective project, and Venda built on and further developed the Meriheimo approach. Young people were offered supported pathways to empowerment, education and work.

The adventure education methods used in the Venda project have been compiled in the If I can weather this storm guide. The guide provides information on how to implement adventure education activities and easy-to-implement exercises for anyone working with children and young people.

Sea coaching and adventure education will continue to be part of Y-Säätiö’s activities in the coming years. In summer 2023, the Jiippi development project will be launched to strengthen the social skills of young adults. Jiippi will provide adventures at sea and in the forests, meet new people, offer individual support in finding study paths and explore pathways to work. Jiippi builds on previous projects and is run by a team from Y-Säätiö and the Valo Construction Association, familiar from Venda.

A new direction for young people

The name Venda comes from the world of sailing. Venda is a translation of changing direction upwind. A successful venda in a sailboat is based on good cooperation. The results of the project aptly mirror the idea behind the name.

The young people who participated in the Venda activities described the impact of the Venda as a clear positive change. Young people experienced a new ease in social situations, finding their own place and the supportive atmosphere created by the group. The feeling of overcoming oneself, the courage to try and learn new things and the experience of success have a positive impact on young people’s daily lives and future plans. The community created through Venda can have a lasting impact on young people’s well-being, as the friendships formed in the community continue even after the project has ended.

The target group of the project was well reached. Most of the participants were not in education or employment during the project and many had mental health problems, fear of social situations, substance abuse or criminal backgrounds, loneliness or a desire to find a new direction in their lives. Many of the young people were in contact with services: for example, more than half of them used mental health services.

The project provided young people with positive experiences in a supportive atmosphere, while giving them opportunities for self-empowerment. According to the evaluation material provided by the young people, they gained courage and boldness in their daily lives, even outside the project. Young people who had previously experienced themselves as introverts and who had spent most of their time alone at home were activated by the project outside the home, and they felt that they had gained routines and new meaning in their daily lives, which had an impact on many aspects of their lives.

This improved their perception of their own strengths and their ability to deal with difficult situations, which in turn had a positive impact on their future planning. The project supported young people in planning their studies or guided them to study paths or to supportive rehabilitation. The Venda project’s concept of apprenticeship and cooperation with educational institutions is now firmly rooted in the activities of the Valo Training Association.

The Venda project was funded by the European Social Fund. The current Jiippi project is also funded by the EU.