Building the Future Generation of Sofia – news report on bTV

“TRAP” follows a successful method from Sweden to work with the youth from all backgrounds

The Trotoara Foundation is a successful organisation with a varied background in community work aimed at helping teenagers from all backgrounds develop. BTV met with Deyan Yankov – the founder of the organisation and some of the adolescents and volunteers involved in the project to build a community arts and activities centre called TRAP (“TROTOARA: Room for Angry People”). Their mission is to create a better environment for the youth and to help the growth of a better next generation. The aim of the place is to open space for different organisations, inspiring people, volunteers and young members of society to nurture creativity.

“Our goal is to all work together to make a better environment for the youth to feel better, to communicate and to create. What we want to teach them that when you work hard the results follow. This is how we can build a better society in 15 years”, says the organisation director Deyan Yankov.

Thanks to a large number of people who join in the renovation work – by donations and with building materials, ideas or assisting the management of the project, the team will manage to open the front part of TRAP by the end of October. They still need funds for the roof repair and various materials. The completed project will involve a dance practice studio, music rehearsal space, indoor climbing wall, skate ramp, as well as crafts studio spaces.

Source: bTV
English subtitles embedded in YouTube video (click CC button to activate).

Part of the inspiration comes from Micke Svennerbrandt and a team of specialists that help children at risk through music production. Our journalist Liliya Yovcheva met with Micke over Skype to find out more about the successful project that started back in 1992 in Malmo, Sweden and was later tried out in Bulgaria in the form of “Rock Academy”-Dupnitsa 10 years ago. This is when Deyan Yankov was introduced to the idea itself.

Back in Sweden almost all adolescents that have participated in the Music Programme came from problematic backgrounds. Before the start of the project they were close to being expelled from school. The music production became the tool to show them the necessity of knowledge in Mathematics, Swedish and English. At the end of the projects everyone produced a music CD. For example, Patrick Vincent’s band “Look Twice” sold 95 thousand copies of their debut album in 39 countries.

“The CD is very important because before that they were being told “You’re worthless”, and this way they show the world they’ve achieved something. You can bite it, you can touch it, you can show it to the world. It’s a proof that you’re worth it”, shares Micke Svennerbrandt – the founder of the so called L3 Method (“Life, Love, Lust”) practiced at the Music Programme.

“When I was reading their lyrics, I cried a lot, because I found out that all these things had happened to them. Many of the children had been physically, mentally and sexually abused. The music had become a survival tool for them. And our aim was to give them lust for life”, adds Micke.

Not only those children graduate from high school, but many of them find a new purpose in life. The project participants today have families of their own and have realised the importance of the example that they give. Once they couldn’t spell and write and today they have books published. One of the guys in the programme is now a therapist and works with children with gaming addiction.

The successful examples inspire The Trotoara Foundation to put into practice the method in Sofia, but also expand it to a larger scale beyond the music aspect.

“Our goal is to offer interesting activities to the youth in which they’ll perhaps recognise themselves one day and will maybe turn those into a life choice. Whether this will be the music, or will it be just a tool to unlock other capabilities – we can’t tell yet. What we can do is offer opportunities which they might not have at the moment whether for financial or other reasons like the lack of space”, explains Deyan.

The aim of everyone involved is to oppose to the risks within society, uniting the youth to share and communicate their values and find new ways to set and achieve their goals.

Official statistics in Bulgaria show that about 500 thousand children and adolescents under the age of 18 are at risk of poverty and social exclusion. This is nearly half of the children in the country.

“Wherever you go around the world, you see common problems – related to race, homosexuality, the homeless, children at risk. One way to help is what we’re doing with Deyan here in TRAP. By giving back to your community – the community gets stronger”, believes Matt Fluker – a volunteer from New Orleans.

Matt is part of a volunteer work and travel organisation called Remote Year who also support Trotoara’s initiatives.

Deyan’s Foundation has already a significant portfolio of successful projects with other organisations and teenagers in Bulgaria, as well as local schools. Their work is not exclusively aimed at children at risk, but  tо unite everyone – focused at all young people.

One of the schools they’ve worked with is the “Lyulin” Area 97th State High School. Along with Bulgarian musicians the students learn how to create music – from the rhythm and the instrumental construction to lyrics writing.

“Every connection with artists, no matter what field it is, helps you grow emotionally and to break up the chains of the grey everyday life”, contemplates Peter – one of the high school students.

The TRAP project can help Peter and his classmates find a place to get inspired and to build their values.

“It all starts from the family, but then we go different ways. I grew through the music. It developed my life views. Three years ago I started playing the guitar more methodically – 4 hours a day every day all summer. It taught me how to be disciplined”

Veronika – a member of the “TRAP” community.

Author: Liliya Yovcheva
Source: bTV

This post is also available in: Bulgarian

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