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Otesha Week

17 March 2014

Otesha Skills finally arrived to Marseille. Feelings of excitedness, questions and some doubts were showing on the faces of the participants when they arrived to the office of Pistes Solidaires on Tuesday. This year’s participants included Point Europa (UK), Inwole (DE), Gurenet (ES) and Pistes Solidaires (FR).

On the first day of the mobility the group visited Crèche Plif Plaf Plouf, a kindergarten operated by a non-profit organization that is one of the first associations to suggest an inter-generational kindergarten inthe PACA region. The group had the opportunity to observe this extraordinary cooperation in form of an afternoon activity held jointly to kindergarteners and the residents of the elderly home. The team members were amazed and moved seeing the little 3 year olds playing with their 80 + years older friends.  Caroline Mikhail from Point Europa said that she had dreamt about the idea of establishing the same connection between an elderly house and a kindergarten and she was impressed to see her idea put into practice. The idea of a joint activity is brilliant, as one of the other participants pointed it out too, children of 3 years old and residents of an elderly home in their seventies and eighties are closer to each other in terms of physical needs and way of thinking. With this new experience in their heart the Otesha participants headed back to the city thinking that everything is possible and maybe somewhere in the World someone has exactly the same idea of what sustainability means.

The destination on the following day was Thalassanté in l’Estaque, just West of Marseille. Thalassanté is an association, which organizes meetings and cultural exchanges connected to boats, sailing and sea life. Their activities include, but not limited to raising awareness of health issues and promoting a healthy life style. By this time the group dynamics were excellent, regardless of age, culture or language the participants were having vibrant conversations. Wednesday’s activities included filling out a questionnaire, getting to know the objectives of Thalassanté, the ways in which they support young people and an interactive board game. The questionnaire was aimed at exploring what does health means to the participants, how they relate to it and it included the followings:

Otesha Skills 2

– What does the word « health » makes you think of?

– Do external effects have an influence on your health? If yes, please explain.

– Can you do something for your health? If yes, please explain.

– What does sailing and the boat represent to you?

The board game as such includes question of geography, gastronomy, health etc. and is aimed at sharing/ teaching new information in the topic. Once we had symbolically sailed to New Zealand with the board game, while being dressed up in costumes, throwing a giant cushion dice we spent the day getting to know how the organization helps young people with fewer opportunities to spend five months as an intern with Thalassanté and build their own boat. At some point during the day it appeared that all participants contemplated the idea of staying in l’Estaque to build their own boat, live by the sea and observe the gorgeous sunset every night.

The final day the group took a bus to Jardin de Font Obscure and also walked to Jardin de Font-Vert in the fourteenth district of Marseille. The former one is a project initiated by the municipality and the local social center. Their objectives are to promote sustainable education, create a social link and to allow the integration of disabled people. The latter one – Jardin de Font Vert is a shared urban garden established by the social center, which participates in researching the impacts of urban gardens on the residential community. The procedure of establishing an urban garden and the difficulties that needed to be faced (vandalism, non-commitment etc.) were introduced to the participants in both gardens. As of now both gardens are well maintained, the organizations, families take care of their parcels and are happy to be involved. The oldest parcel owner – over eighty years old – was also in Jardin de Font Obscure while the Otesha participants were being introduced to the garden.  Urban gardens also help elderly people to find company, activity and our group members were delighted to see this. On their way to Jardin de Font-Vert our guests were throwing seed – bombs, they prepared together in Jardin de Font Obscure. Throwing seed -bombs is a very easy and fascinating way to green the boring urban areas and plant gorgeous flowers or for instance vegetables. Hopefully in just a few months from now the two urban gardens will be connected not only by their common philosophy, but also rows of flowers on the side of the road.

 Group picture Up to Mars !

Each organization the participants visited during Otesha Skills provided a unique insight into forms of sustainability in Marseille. Creche Plif Plaf Plouf showed that a kindergarten and an elderly home can not only share the space they are situated in, but also their activities. The intergenerational activities have numerous positive effects on the residents of the elderly home as well as on the 1-3 years old children and a close connection can be established between the two groups. Thalassanté provides workshops for youngsters with fewer opportunities, helps them to get involved and discover their artistic side by making music and to be persistent and precise by building their own boat. Meanwhile it is unavoidable for them to pursue a healthier lifestyle, learn about sustainability and become connected to the sea and sailing. Both Jardin de Font Obscure and Jardin de Font Vert uses the garden as a pedagogic tool for social workers, provides space for intergenerational mingling and extracurricular activities for young and old. The urban garden is a tool that helps the elderly to socialize and teaches the young to be environmentally conscious. Therefore Otesha Skills in Marseille successfully familiarized the participants of the mobility with modes of sustainability in the Marseille area and the above mentioned organizations.