Fritidsklubb kvalifisering og rusforebygging?
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The first youth club in Norway was established in 1953. Since then, youth clubs have gone through periods where their methods and practices have been discussed and criticized. More recently both the media and some researchers have argued that youth clubs stimulate youth problems, such as drug use and petty crime. Because of this and other issues The National Organization for Youth Clubs (Ungdom & Fritid - Landsforeningen for fritidsklubber og ungdomshus) initiated a project where club workers from 11 different clubs were invited to participate in a series of courses where a new method for participatory and empowering youth work - the so called Yo-Pro-method - was taught. As an integrated part of the project, two researchers were engaged to evaluate the project. The first aim of the research was to explore whether and to what degree the new methods and the accompanying economic support would improve the clubs' abilities to work in more qualifying and socially including ways through more active and structured strategies. Both youth at risk - with a special focus upon drug-related problems - and «normal» youth were targeted. The second aim was to explore whether and how the intervention (the courses, methods and the economic resources) could strengthen the clubs' relations to these target groups. The third was to explore whether and how the intervention could eventually improve the clubs' status as an arena for collaboration with external and youth-relevant partners such as the schools, the child welfare services and the police. Methodologically, we have followed the 11 clubs and their participating club-workers over a period from autumn 2007 to spring 2009. Two clubs have been especially explored through shorter periods of fieldwork. Representatives from external collaborating institutions have been interviewed, as well as young people from the various clubs. We have also conducted a small survey before and after the intervention, where around 300 young people participated each time. The participant clubs showed large variations regarding available personnel, localities, characteristics of the place (city, center, suburbs, village, countryside), material and technological resources, and so on. A large repertoire of activities and possibilities are offered to the members, including practices directed at participation, development of relations of confidence between members and staff, and different forms of qualifying activities. The clubs also have a broad range of practices that directly or indirectly related to the prevention of drug and alcohol use among their members. It is strongly taken for granted that the club shall be an arena completely free from drugs and alcohol. This is also the case when the clubs organize large arrangements on days when young people have as a tradition to party. In addition we found examples of youth who had problems with drugs, who actively used the club as an important arena to stay away from the drug-milieus which they had previously been part of. We found large variations regarding the clubs' practices for collaboration with external instances such as the police, school and child-care institutions. Some had routines developed over many years, some collaborated very little. Nevertheless, most clubs expressed an explicit need to improve their collaborations with other services. The analyses of the practices in the clubs before the intervention show that the clubs unfold in the tension between two different work profiles. One was represented by clubs that especially focus upon activities and abilities related to different cultural expressions (both aesthetically and in a youth-cultural sense) on the one hand, the other by clubs that to a stronger degree emphasise social work. This has been a salient issue among all the participant clubs and at the series of courses. The participants' conclusion isthatthisis not a question of either - or, but rather both - and, even if some clubs have preferred one aspect rather than the other. In addition, we must also emphasize a rarely focused aspect of the youth clubs in Norway, in the shape of the fact that that they also fulfills society's need for control. The intervention seems to have improved the clubs' abilities to qualify through adding more active and structured strategies for the work in several ways, both for club workers and for young people. This is true for both «ordinary» youth as well as for youth at risk, even if the latter group at times experienced the methods (tools, exercises) as somehow too school-flavored. As Yo-Pro has added a range of exercises, systematics and knowledge about a wide range of fields to the clubs, the intervention is likely to have improved the relationship to both groups of youth. We have also seen several examples where the relationship to one external institution, namely the school, has improved. No systematic improvement has been seen in the clubs' relations with the police or child welfare authorities. We have further seen a change in the clubs' ability to include younger club users, which has increased. A concomitant decrease among older users is not evident. This may be due to natural generation shifts, or to the increase among the younger, which in itself seems to be a result of the intervention. It is not possible to conclude that the members' attitudes and practices regarding drugs and alcohol have changed from 2007 to 2009. Even if the results from the survey show some decrease in such use, this may be due to the fact that there are younger people visiting the clubs after the intervention. Even if this is uncertain, we have seen that the clubs - both before and after the intervention - in fact also appeal to and reach the youth that use drugs and alcohol. This is promising with regard to prevention. It is important to assess whether parts of the Yo-Pro-method resembles school work too much. And for the clubs it is important that the method does not lead to a «fetishising» of activity, that is a practice where activities become the Overall Goal. This may in part have the result that many youth who do not enjoy this focus upon activities, quit or avoid joining the clubs. For many youth, both among those who are clever at school, and among youth who are more critical and oppositional on this arena, the club is primarily a place to relax and spend their spare time, and not a place where "exercises» and activities are central. However, this should not be taken to mean a downplaying of the Yo-Pro-method or the related practices that were an important part of the clubs before the intervention as well. On the contrary, in this report we have seen a considerable number of examples showing how Yo-Pro-work has been very useful and enjoyable in the clubs' youth-work. On the whole it seems that Yo-Pro, the courses and the economic support have strengthened and to some extent improved the systematic aspect of the work done in the clubs. We do not see the Yo-Pro-methods as radically different from the earlier practices in the Norwegian youth clubs, but rather as a method that deepens and develop already existing practices and attitudes in the Norwegian youth club tradition. This is, of course, difficult to measure. The closest we get is to judge the direction shown in the overall picture of examples and quotations that the participants in this process have communicated. An important question is to what degree a successful youth work is dependent on the personalities of the club-workers. This possibility can not be excluded. Nevertheless, behind what we usually term «person-dependency», there are different kinds of knowledge. The more we know about such knowledge, the lessthedependent onthe club-workers' personality the work will be. On such a background these results and analyses from the work with the Yo-Pro-method - and also of the practices in Norwegian youth clubs before this intervention - may be seen as steps toward this goal.Klubbarbeidere, pedagoger og forskere har lenge forstått fritidsklubben som en egnet arena for forebygging. I nyere tid har media og enkelte forskere imidlertid også hevdet at fritidsklubber kan stimulere til problemadferd som rusbruk og kriminalitet. Mot en slik bakgrunn har Ungdom & Fritid - landsforeningen for fritidsklubber og ungdomshus, satt i gang et prosjekt hvor klubbarbeidere fra elleve ulike klubber deltok i en serie kurs hvor ny metodikk for ungdomsarbeid - den såkalte Yo-Pro-metodikken - ble presentert. To forskere fra NOVA har evaluert prosjektet underveis. Rapporten viser at arbeidet med Yo-Pro har vært til vesentlig nytte i prosesser som norske ungdomsklubber historisk sett har ansett som verdifulle i form av kvalifisering, tillitsbygging, rusforebygging, utvikling av innsikt og samarbeidsevner, og samarbeid med eksterne instanser. Yo-Pro-metodikken ses derfor ikke som et brudd med praksisene og holdningene som vanligvis har vært viktige i norske fritidsklubber, men snarere som en metode som utdyper og videreutvikler denne tradisjonen for ungdomsarbeid.