Workshop 3: Young people placed in foster care or residential homes

On April 10th and 11th 2013 we held our third workshop. At the workshop, which was held in a big holiday home on the Danish island of Falster, 13 inspiring young people aged 13-17 participated. The participants had in common the fact that they all live in a foster family, at a residential home or at a youth residence.

Just like the two previous workshops, it was a very inspiring and fruitful workshop, where we gained a lot of insight in what sort of behaviours the participants had been criticised for or that they had experienced as problematic themselves. The contributions, ideas and experiences of these young people contain very important knowledge for this project and will be communicated to adults working with children and youth, as well as researchers working on this topic.

The activities in the workshop ended up with the participants formulating 10 commandments to adults working with vulnerable children and youth. The purpose of these 10 commandments was to point out, what professionals have to be attentive to in order to recognise, support and develop the special resources of the children/young people. One example of the work and thoughts of the young participants in this third workshop is the following commandment, which gave rise to a lot of thoughts and reflexion for us in this project but also our colleagues, when it was presented at a research workshop in Norway:

“The most dangerous thing in the world is living, so if you want to protect us from the most dangerous thing, then you have to protect us against life itself…. Which means that we don’t live our life!”

Moreover, it was truly inspiring to witness how quickly the young people got together. They had a good time, laughed, fooled around and worked really well together, despite that the majority had never met each other before. It can be challenging in such short time to find one’s place in a new group, where you both have to work and keep focus, and at the same time have fun and make new friendships. Even though it certainly was some tired young people that came home after two days, it seemed as if it was not only the project that gained a lot/benefitted. Thoughts and reflexions about their own resources and how people around them can help them to see their potentials, and not least new friendships, were packed into the backpack alongside the wet bathing suit and the dirty socks.

It was an amazing group of young people that we had the pleasure to meet and work with during these two days at Falster. We therefore would like to thank them very much for their efforts and especially for sharing their experiences and knowledge with us. We look forward to pass on this knowledge both inside and outside this project.