Bridges to Understanding: Empowering Youth Through Social Cohesion
In March 2017, ARDD, in partnership with International Institute for Nonviolent Action (NOVACT) and funded by Fondation de France, Ajuntament de Barcelona and Agencia de Catalana, launched the Bridges to Understanding: Empowering Youth Through Social Cohesion project, in Zarqa. The project seeks to support young Syrians and Jordanians, between the ages of 16 and 25, in meaningfully contributing to social cohesion efforts in their community. This objective will be achieved through the provision of the following:
- Psychosocial Support Sessions (PSS): These sessions will provide young people the space to voice common issues that both groups face as members of a resource-scarce and underserved community. The sessions will also provide th youth with tools they can utilize for better decision making while under stress, effective communication skills, and strategies for constructively voicing their concerns. Additionally, these sessions will engage participants in dialogues that encourage mutual understanding and provide a space for them to discuss challenges, including perceptions of each other, to promote positive social behavior and attitudinal change.
- Conflict Management Skills Building: This component of the project will enhance the skills and capacity of the participants to provide creative solutions for resolving and preventing conflict to positively promote change in their communities.
- Engaging Community Members: While the first two components of the project address the horizontal social tensions (tension between community members), the final component will address vertical tension (tension between community members and decision makers). Addressing such tension ensures that youth feel heard and can meaningfully contribute to solving issues that they face. This component will allow the participants to utilize the skills gained through the conflict management sessions, by providing them the opportunity to implement an activity — two community dialogue sessions with local leaders — that allows them to engage with decision-makers to voice their concerns, and together with the leaders, brainstorm positive ways in which the challenges can be addressed.
In engaging young people in social cohesions efforts in Zarqa, this project contributes to ARDD’s work in ensuring that everyone in Jordan can play a role in contributing to resolving issues in their communities. ARDD strongly believes that providing the space to support the creation of positive connections between young Syrians and host community members, and providing them the tools to meaningfully contribute to their communities, is imperative for future peace, stability, and recovery in the region.