LEJO is an independent youth organisation, engaged within the policy fields of Youthwork and Education & Training, located in Ghent, Belgium. The NGO LEJO stands for “Learning by Experience with Youngsters”.
What do we do?
Our vision and mission
A good number of young people find their way in our increasingly more individualized society with great difficulty. We engage youngsters between the age of 12 and 19 years old in different fields (leisure time – education & training), by using the method of experiental learning.
Our trademark is guiding young people in an experiental and process-based approach, with respect for the pace and situation of each young person. To start a strong process and to (re)discover the potential of young people, we see some basic conditions that we invest a lot of time and attention into.
LEJO invests in a relationship and environment that is perceived by the young as sufficiently safe to leave familiar patterns and to experiment with new behavior. Work on these favorable conditions forms the basis of our guidance. We believe it is important that young people relax and feel welcome. A framework that young people perceive as safe is after all an indispensable basis for ‘experimenting’.
‘To grow, young people must be able to be themselves …’
In order to be themselves, young people need trust bonds. In order to offer them a safe starting point for their growth trajectory, we attach great importance to coaching. We invest in encouraging young people to find their place in a group. In order to maintain self-confidence and to keep the relationship between young person and supervisor positive, we have a lot of attention in our way of working for positive reinforcement and success experiences.
We find it essential that the youngsters have as much control as possible and have an equal voice in every decision that concerns them. We always depart from the NIVEA principle (Do not fill in for another). In this way we place the responsibility for their learning process with the younger person and this stimulate their involvement and commitment. The above basic conditions form an ideal starting point for young people and supervisors to travel together
In order to give them all the potential for development, we particularly encourage: Growth In the process that young people take, we see experiences with meaning as building blocks that make young people step-by-step more self-conscious, stimulating them to let go of the familiar patterns and dare to experiment. It is a challenge to offer young people many opportunities, where there is room to fail and reflection is encouraged.
After all, it is our conviction that reflection maximizes learning opportunities in an experience. We therefore strongly focus on frequent reflections, both formally and informally. During these moments, we hold up a mirror to the young people (and the young people themselves), which encourages them to keep up with the challenges and, where necessary, to push their limits. Resilience LEJO has a fundamental belief in the potential of every young person. Due to circumstances they are (often) snowed under. We see it as our mission to recognize, explore and grow strengths and talents with them. We unconditionally believe that our approach strengthens their resilience: by providing a safe framework, encouraging experimentation and actively coaching, they are stronger in life after their trajectory. And by educating and train the trainers.
Translated all this elements into practice of 4 pillars:
- YOUTHWORK : we organise different camps with themes such as ‘extreme adventure’, ‘circus’, ‘blanco’ (a concept where there is no program at all, somtimes not even an location and youngsterscan be their craftsmen for the whole proces), ‘LEJO Got Talent’ …
- EDUCATION (schools) : personal development education for youngsters
- EDUCATIONAL training : youthworkers, schools, teachers, co-workers, care workers, teams, volunteers, ….
- TEENAGE parents : activities, camps, peer to peer focus …
Why do we believe in going international with LEJO?
Because it gives young people, volunteers and employees the chance to be inspired, offers opportunities in different areas (language – cultural exchange – independence – building international networks – guarantees strong support)