The EU is helping young people across Armenia to shake off stereotypes, strive for self-development and be more socially engaged in their communities through SKYE clubs.
Yeva Demirchyan lives in the province of Ararat and has been the leader of her local SKYE club since 2018. According to the young woman, it did not take long for ‘club-goers’ to change their mindsets and develop their social and teamwork skills.
“Our members have learnt how to take care of their communities, take risks, and be more confident and progressive in their thinking. Compared to how they were when they first joined the club, the difference is enormous,” says Yeva.
The SKYE club in Ararat opened in February 2018 as part of the EU project EU4Youth – SAY YES Skills for Jobs. The project is being implemented by World Vision Armenia in three Armenian provinces: Ararat, Gegharkunik and Lori. The aim of the SKYE clubs is to develop young people’s socio-economic abilities through informal learning.
“SKYE clubs have four focus areas: active politics, performance, leadership and social entrepreneurship. We develop five skills and nine values, including trust, respect, responsibility and honesty. And all this has a really positive effect on our members,” explains Yeva.
According to the young leader, the club’s activities have already borne fruit – young people in her province have become more caring about their community and face fewer difficulties when applying for jobs.
Yeva and her colleagues look for community problems that can be solved with the support of SKYE club members and partners
“Our members re-painted more than 40 desks at the local college. As they were working, their enthusiasm was so contagious that random passers-by decided to join them. We also distributed leaflets to residents, urging them to donate books to their local library,” Yeva says.
Project assistant Kristina Aslikyan admits that at first it was hard to explain what SKYE was to people in her province: “People associated the word ‘club’ with nightclubs, but now the attitudes are slowly changing.”
According to the project assistant, each of the three provinces has its own characteristics. SKYE club members in Gavar, the province of Gegharkunik, are mostly young men, while there are more young women in the clubs in Ararat and Lori.
Among other topics, SKYE clubs also discuss gender problems, as violations of women's rights in Armenia remain a serious problem.
“I was told that in Alaverdi, the province of Lori, a teacher attempted to hit one of the students when a classmate and SKYE club-goer grabbed his hand, saying he had no right,” Kristina recalls.
The project assistant believes that SKYE club members are more progressive, active and skilled than their peers. They know their rights and will not hesitate to stand up for themselves and others.
Author: Roza Hovhannisyan