Fight for Peace is an international youth organization and a long-term LIFEbeat partner. For the past 6 years we have been working together to cross-refer young people between programmes. Fight for Peace staff also regularly attend LIFEbeat trainings to learn more about using creativity as a tool for community building and youth work, and also join LIFEbeat residential programmes as staff members.
We caught up with Leonas Greicius, Youth Leadership Coordinator at Fight for Peace, to find out more about how the partnership works.
Tell us a little about Fight for Peace
At Fight for Peace we work with young people between the ages of 7-25. We run multiple projects but we mainly work in communities that are affected by crime and violence. We work to build platforms for young people to realize their full potential, whatever their full potential looks like to them. That will be different for everyone.
One of the main means for us to deliver this kind of work is through boxing and martial arts. That acts as a developmental tool for many other things including discipline and team building. We also support the young people with mentoring, employability and education.
How did the partnership with LIFEbeat begin?
We started working with LIFEbeat about 6 years ago. One of our youth workers at the time went on a LIFEbeat camp and when he came back he couldn’t stop talking about how incredible it was. The partnership built from there. Over the years it has just expanded and expanded. We’ve had more youth workers going there and sent more youth referrals. It’s been an incredible partnership. Our staff are able to bring their skills and talents to the LIFEbeat programme and in turn, they learn more about LIFEbeat’s approach of using creativity to build communities.
What’s really cool about the partnership is that some young people who go to LIFEbeat can potentially come to the Fight for Peace Academy after camp and get additional support and, vice versa – young people who go to Fight for Peace can go to LIFEbeat and build really authentic relationships with each other. It’s a two way partnership for us.
What do you enjoy about LIFEbeat at the programmes you have attended?
I’m more of a sports guy, so when I first went to LIFbeat the arts and creativity elements of the programme were new for me. I haven’t really done arts since I was a kid. It was different but it was a good thing.
The LIFEbeat process is all about building trust, and I think that’s why it works so well. The best relationships are based on trust and LIFEbeat is really good at building that and forming friendships and bonds that last for years, far beyond the end of camp. So although I was hesitant at first, I could quickly see the benefits.
What benefits do you see for the young people who attend LIFEbeat?
Usually young people don’t want to leave towards the end of the week and I think that’s because they discover something new, a new side to themselves and they don’t want to go back to their daily life. They like the relationships they build there. At Fight for Peace we notice that the young people who went to LIFEbeat together always come back with really strong friendships. Those relationships carry on within our community.
At LIFEbeat I’ve seen young people discovering different aspirations and a different side to themselves. Their perspective changes. Once their perspective changes their life will change around them. That has a big impact on what they can achieve and how they see themselves.
It’s a challenge to describe what it is that LIFEbeat actually does. It’s so experiential and everyone has a different experience. I tell young people they have to do it to really understand it.