Youth work – empowering the changemakers of tomorrow

Super Youth Worker
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Exclusive where necessary, inclusive where possible

Stad Antwerpen

Francis Wellesplein 1, 2018 Antwerpen Antwerpen, Belgium

  • Inclusion
  • Youth work in urban areas
  • Volunteering/voluntarism
  • Outdoor activities

A practice of processes and methods

Children and young people with special needs often cannot participate in activities because the activities are not adapted to their needs. These children and youngsters also have the right on free time, so to make sure that they can experience a sense of free time, an organisator of playground activities during school holidays – which is organised with young people as animator – and specialized institutions where childen and youngsters with special needs stay during the school year decided to work together. The organisations are very different: the playground organisation works with young people as volunteers and focusses on free play and giving children the right to shape their own free time. The specialized organisations work with professionals who are specialized in the needs of the children who come to their organisation.

The two organisations started by getting to know each other and each others way of working. Parents needed an introduction in the philosophy of the playground organisation and needed assurance about the care that would be present for their children. After experimenting during some holidays with different forms of working together, the best co-operation turned out to be extra hands on the work floor of the playground organisation (working students) and ‘mobile support’ from the specialized organisations. If a child with special needs enrolls for the playground, then this organisation can count on different forms of support from the specialized organisations: from an intake with the child and parents to practical help on the floor: they can ask the partner to be present the first day when a child with special needs starts, to give support and tips to the animator or they can call when they need support.


Both the organisations have learned a lot from each other during the process:

  • the playground organisation has incorporated inclusion in their training for animators and has accumulated a lot of knowledge within the organisation.
  • the specialized organisations have become more familiar with very different ways of working and see the children they know in a certain context grow and blossom in a different context.
  • Because of the support from the specialized organisations, parents have gained trust in the playground organisation and are more open about the needs of their child.

Organisation and practice