Rise to challenges, overcome barriers and succeed: how to mobilize your young PwVHPI peers

Welcome to our self-learning modules designed for young people, particularly addressing young PwVHP (People with visual, hearing and physical impairments) to increase this important target group's involvement in international youth work. We want to empower young people to become DARE Ambassadors (DARE Digital Storytelling Handbook, 2020) and thus to enthuse peers for international youth activities. The modules are designed to support young people in this by providing self-learning experiences on crucial topics of inclusive youth work.

Discovering strategies on how to mobilise peers successfully is one aim of this first chapter. Young people, especially those with disabilities, are often facing barriers that prevent them from participating in youth activities. With this chapter, we want to raise awareness of possible obstacles so they are visible and can be reduced step by step.

This module addresses and comprises in specific the following topics:

  • inclusion,
  • different kind of barriers, and how to overcome,
  • the mobilisation of young people in general and in particular young PwVHP.

By the end of this module, you will:

  • understand what inclusion is,
  • be aware of potential participation barriers and possibilities to overcome them,
  • have an idea, how to mobilise peers toward more engagement in (international) inclusive youth activities.

1. One challenge of inclusion

Inclusion is ensured by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Inclusion Europe. 2019). It is a human right. It grants all people the equal right to full participation in social and cultural life regardless of their background, gender, age, disability etc. (United Nations enable, N/A).

But there is no inclusion without accessibility (Wikipedia, 2016) or barrier-free environments. Although the UN Convention guarantees full participation to everyone, disabled people are daily confronted with a lot of barriers that prevent them from coping without help from others. These barriers are often the result of unawareness, ignorance or a lack of concern. Sadly, they exist although most of them could be avoided by raising awareness and careful planning.

Obviously, the aim has to be the reduction or even elimination of such barriers. This also applies to international youth work, which is often not without barriers either. When access is difficult, frustration and withdrawal are consequences rather than openness and involvement, and mobilisation stays a challenge.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Graphic source.

1.1 Examples of barriers

To successfully reduce participation barriers, we need to identify and understand them first. The World Health Organization defines barriers as follow (WHO, 2001):

“Factors in a person’s environment that, through their absence or presence, limit functioning and create disability. These include aspects such as:

  • physical environments that are not accessible;
  • lack of relevant assistive technology (assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices);
  • negative attitudes of people towards disability;
  • services, systems and policies that are either non-existent or that hinder the involvement of all people with a health condition in all areas of life.”

This definition indicates that barriers are more than just physical obstacles and can emerge on different levels. The following shows three examples of possible barriers (Unlimited, 2018) and indicates prevention strategies (CDC, 2019):

  • Attitudinal barriers are images in our head we have of certain groups. The attitudes resulting from this are often pity, evaluation and judgement of individuals from these groups, which in turn can lead to exclusion, discrimination or the creation of new barriers.

If there is, for example, the conviction that most disabled people cannot travel on their own, youth workers will not consider them as possible participants for international activities. Thus, individuals with disability will not be addressed by such opportunities but will naturally be excluded.
Fortunately, much has already happened here. Due to the social model of disability (DARE Practical Guide of Inclusion, 2020, p. 12), a change in perspective took place. Disability is no longer seen as a personal deficit, but a social responsibility and barrier-free approaches are increasingly considered.

  • Communication barriers occur when communication strategies differ. The lack of sign language interpreters or missing subtitles in videos can be obstacles for deaf people, and small print or not suitable online documents (e.g. for screen readers) can be for people with low vision.
    Using plain language, visualisations, or accessible web design allows to adapt content to different people’s needs and makes information easier to understand.
  • Physical barriers are obstacles in the environment that restrict the movement or access of people. Classic examples are stairs that prevent people in wheelchairs from entering a room, or high up hanging shelves that require people to stand up. An accessible venue or materials in places reachable for everyone can prevent the occurrence of such barriers.

There are more categories of barriers (CDC, 2019). Some of them make it extremely difficult for disabled people to function. It is also important to be aware that often more than one barrier occurs at a time. But these examples also show that small, attentive modifications can already change a lot.

1.2 Overcoming barriers in youth work

The following overview points out some of the barriers that can arise in youth work and offers options for dealing with them. The factsheet Barriers to Participation (Council for Disabled Children, 2018) provides some further examples that are transferable. There can be many different ways to deal with participation barriers, as they may be very individual or specific. It speaks for itself that it is essential to look for solutions together with young PwVHP or young people from other target groups to find adequate approaches and solutions together. In this way, youth work becomes accessible to more and new interested groups, thus ensuring all young people's equal and full participation.

  • Young people are unaware of their rights and the possibility to participate in international youth activities.
    • Research information about inclusive youth mobilities online or get in touch with youth workers. Share them with your peers. Use social media and direct contact to reach different people.
    • Organise a campaign to promote the value of international inclusive mobilities for everyone.
    • Use the DARE mobile App, where you can find information about your rights to participate in youth activities.
  • Young people with disabilities have fears, low self-confidence or have had negative experiences of exclusion and discrimination.
    • Invite people with positive experiences to share them and to answer to uncertainties.
    • Engage youth workers, trainers etc., to support the trust-building process.
    • Involve young PwVHP in planning and development activities, so they can evolve their capacities and build up trust.
  • Access needs are not taken into consideration in terms of communication, accessibility of buildings and rooms, transportation, assistance, different types of diets and food preferences etc.
    • Draw the organisers' attention to this fact, so they can change the accessibility of their activities. Organise meetings of PwVHP and youth workers to think about future strategies to make youth work more accessible.
    • Document mistakes and issues for future project planning.
    • Create with your friends an overview of what you think should be considered in terms of accessibility. Keep in mind that accessibility does not just mean getting into the building. It means that everyone’s needs are taken into account.
  • Try to be positive and establish an error-friendly environment, where everybody can learn from each other, and common solutions can be found in a collaborative process.

2. Mobilising young people

The European programme Erasmus+ (European Commission, N/A) tends to mobilise young people. This means as much as “putting them in motion”. The idea is that all young people in Europe should get the opportunity to participate in international exchange programmes. They should experience new things, learn more about Europe and its societies, boost their self-esteem and strengthen their European citizenship (Erasmus+ Programme Guide, 2020). Inclusive activities are an important priority in Erasmus+.

DARE Ambassadors are supposed to assist the objectives of the Erasmus+ programme. We developed the DARE Peer Support Model (DARE Digital Storytelling Handbook, 2020) to show various possibilities to support, encourage and involve young people in inclusive youth activities. One crucial step toward their engagement is understanding the reasons that might prevent them from taking part and working around it together.

All together. Graphic source.

2.1 How to reach young people

As it has already become apparent, it is crucial to identify first why young people do not participate in youth mobility programmes. This can be done by asking them directly, but it is not always likely that they are aware of the reasons or are willing to share them. This may be the case in particular if these reasons are personal.

So it makes sense to get to know the young people better, preferably in their environment also to understand where they are coming from. The following model (Council of Europe, 2017, ch. 4) can support you as DARE Ambassador to get in touch with relevant target groups and maybe get one or the other person enthusiastic about international youth work in the end.

Step 1 – Get to know the young people in their environment

  • Build trust and a positive relationship to engage young people in an open and honest dialogue.
  • Visit places where you can meet people you want to reach. Spend time with them and get to know their environment and life situation.
  • Talk with them about their needs and wishes, listen actively and gather relevant information to identify barriers and encourage engagement.

Step 2 – Develop a relationship

  • Show interest in what the people are doing and how they are doing it. Talk with them about their experiences.
  • Be transparent and open. A trustful relationship is both-sided. It would help if you also opened up. Tell your peers about your ideas, activities and intentions.

Step 3 – Analyse the information

  • Evaluate and analyse all the gathered information. It will tell you a lot about the challenges and obstacles your peers are facing in daily life.
  • Develop ideas on how to reduce or eliminate participation barriers.
  • Do not assume. Fact-check your results and thoughts by sharing them with your peers.

Step 4 – Involve young people from the beginning

  • Organise local, national or international inclusive activities in which your peers can get involved.
  • Engage your peers right from the start, so their opinions, perspectives and needs are considered.
  • Ask your peers to support you in reaching and mobilising more people from their communities.

Activity 1.1

Module Title

Rise to challenges, overcome barriers and succeed: how to mobilise your young PwVHPI peers

Activity Title

Look around you!

Activity Code


Duration of the Activity (in minutes


Type of resource

Activity Sheet

Aim of activity

This activity aims to raise awareness for structures of exclusion in our everyday life. It invites learners to reflect on their concept of society. Based on this, the activity enables them to perceive barriers and initiate changes.

Materials Required for Activity

  • paper and pen;
  • imagination;

Step-by-step instructions

We want to invite you on a short fantasy journey. Below you will find a story. As you read it, imagine yourself in this situation and explore the environment. Pause and close your eyes from time to time to better visualize everything.

Step 1

Read the following storyline.

“You arrive at a hostel where you will stay during a youth exchange. Soon you will get to know the other participants, but first, you have to check-in. You find the reception desk. The receptionist gives you the keys, and you start looking for your room.

You walk through the corridors. You pass the kitchen, which someone from the cleaning staff is cleaning. You walk on. A group of people is standing in the corridor, chatting. In the lounge, some friends are playing table tennis. A couple is sitting on the sofa next to them, flirting with each other.

Finally, there, at the end of the hallway is your room. You knock, and you enter. Your roommate did already arrive and is welcoming you”.

Step 2

Now take a paper and pen. Read the story once again and focus on all the people popping up in your imagination.

Stop briefly, each time you meet a new person/group of people. Answer the following questions and write some keywords down before you continue with the story:

  • Who is that person?
  • What does that person look like?
  • What are the characteristics or attributes of this person?
  • Is there something special about the person?

Step 3

In front of you is now a list of different people you have met in your imagination. For sure you have met many different people, but which people/social groups were present and which were missing?

Take a closer look at your list and ask yourself:

  • Did you meet people of different age?
  • Did you meet people of a different gender?
  • Did you meet people of colour in the youth hostel?
  • Have you met gay people?
  • Did anyone you meet had a disability?

This exercise isn´t about right or wrong. It is about showing us how we are used to seeing the world around us and how the world around us often looks.

Most of us interact with people from similar social groups, and often we are not used to contacting, for example, disabled people. Suppose we even do not see them in our imagination in such a simple exercise. How can we notice the barriers around us that prevent them from participating or being visible?

Step 4

Take the knowledge from this exercise into your everyday life. Go to a youth club, to a sports club or even look around in your school. Ask yourself the question: "Who is missing?" and do not forget to ask why!

Talk about your observations and exchange ideas with other people. Sometimes people are not aware that they don't see or miss someone. By drawing attention to this, you can already change a lot. In this way, you help to reduce the barriers that prevent your peers from participating equally.

[Activity inspired by the exercise The Park. No Barriers No Boarders, Salto Youth, 2003, p.14]

Activity 1.2

Module Title

Rise to challenges, overcome barriers and succeed: how to mobilise your young PwVHPI peers

Activity Title

“Mobilizing your peers” – Portfolio

Activity Code


Duration of the Activity (in minutes)

Research: 120 minutes
Preparation: 180 minutes

Type of resource

Activity Sheet

Aim of activity

The aim of this activity is to create a portfolio of inclusive international youth work. A portfolio is a collection of materials, information, pictures and websites through which you can illustrate the characteristics and specifics of inclusive international youth work to your peers.

When compiling the content, keep the different target groups in mind.

The preparation will be at the same time a meaningful learning and reflection process for you to verify your already existing knowledge and to gain new insights regarding the mobilisation of young people.

Materials Required for Activity

Depends on how you imagine your portfolio:

  • digital devices such as computer, printer, and a camera are useful;
  • creative materials such as colourful paper, pens and markers, glue, scissor etc. might come handy.

Step-by-step instructions

To enthuse your peers to get more involved and to mobilise them, it can be useful to have some appealing and colourful materials and pictures that show positive aspects of inclusive youth exchanges and at the same time provide answers to possible uncertainties of your peers. As too many information can be confusing, it is important to break the content of your portfolio down to the essentials.

Step 1: Research

When you’ve decided to make a creative portfolio on inclusive youth work, the first thing to do is to research the vital information. You can research online, use print materials, photos, videos, and talk to different people.

Step 2: Decide on the medium

In the beginning, it is important to decide how the portfolio should look. This may depend on the target group, which is easier to reach in a particular way, or on the materials and resources you have available (see step 3). There are always pros and cons.

  • Physical portfolio: A physical portfolio can, for example, look like a photo album. You can design it creatively by arranging it yourself, pasting in photos, prints and project flyers, etc. If you decide to create a physical portfolio, maybe you can scan it later, so you can also share it online. Find inspiration here.
  • Online-Portfolio: An online portfolio can be a simple website, a profile on social media or a pdf document, which also can be printed if needed. Such a portfolio can be quickly sent by email or other channels. It is essential to take care of its accessibility (DARE Practical Guide for Inclusion, chapter 5).

Step 3: Assemble the information and build a structure

Now you probably still have a wealth of different materials and resources. That’s normal. Set aside time to go through all of it, as you can´t add everything to the portfolio. Always have your target group in mind, when selecting the relevant information, resources, pictures and media.

Be thoughtful and critical about what you include.

Ask yourself:

  • What is good/not so good about this information?
  • What does it show/ explain?
  • What target groups does it consider/address?
  • Who is missing, whom I want to reach?
  • Can everybody understand this information? If not, what needs to be changed?

It will help you not get caught up in details and look at the bigger picture.

Your peers may raise different questions, show various perspectives, and choose the information that highlights multiple relevant aspects. Build up a logical structure and ensure that your portfolio displays the added value of participating in international inclusive youth exchanges. Those are your strong arguments, which can mobilise and motivate your peers.

Step 4: Create the portfolio

Now you have decided how your portfolio should be designed, and you can start creating and arranging it.

Feel free to change the structure or add material, information and pictures if you decide it makes sense. If you are not sure about something, verify the information. Do not assume! You can also consult with other people having experience in this field.

Make sure that the portfolio is suitable for your peers.

Step 5: A possibility to get in touch

Your portfolio will inspire people to participate in international inclusive youth exchanges. Don't forget to provide them with clear access routes by including your contact details or those of other relevant organisations and contact persons.
Step 6: Review, add, delete, repeat

Congratulations! You are done with the portfolio and have certainly learned a lot during the preparation about the added value and positive aspects of international inclusive youth work.

Furthermore, you now have a great product to share and inspire peers to become more engaged.

Over time you will probably exchange ideas with different people and get new ideas. Maybe you will also notice that you have not yet thought about certain aspects or that some information is no longer valid. Don't forget to revise your portfolio from time to time.

[Activity developed by Kreisau-Initiative e. V.]

Learning Resource 1.1

Module Title:

Rise to challenges, overcome barriers and succeed: how to mobilise your young PwVHPI peers

Title of Resource:

Access Study on international youth exchange. Results of the research project

Resource Code:

R 1.1

Introduction to the resource:

International youth exchange offers young people space and time for meaningful experiences, as well as personal development. It should be a natural part of the lives of young people. The access study explores issues of why young people are not participating in such programmes.

What will you get from using this resource?

The readers will get an insight into what factors might influence participation in international youth exchange and what kind of obstacles might prevent participation. This information can be a valuable source of information developing activities to engage more young people in international youth exchanges.

Link to resource:

Publication: Access Study on international youth exchange. Results of the research project (Forschung und Praxis im Dialog, 2019).

Learning Resource 1.2

Module Title:

Rise to challenges, overcome barriers and succeed: how to mobilise your young PwVHPI peers

Title of Resource:

No Barriers No Boarders

Resource Code:

R 1.2

Introduction to the resource:

No Barriers, No Borders is a practical booklet published by Salto Youth aiming to stimulate the participation of young people with a disability in international youth projects. It promotes international mixed-ability projects, in which young people with and without disabilities participate on the same basis.

What will you get from using this resource?

The readers will get a broad perspective on mixed-ability projects and will be able to think more inclusively. The booklet gives practical tips and advice, how active participation is possible for everybody.

Link to resource:

Publication: No Barriers No Boarders (Salto Youth, 2003)

Learning Resource 1.3

Module Title:

Rise to challenges, overcome barriers and succeed: how to mobilise your young PwVHPI peers

Title of Resource:

DARE Youth Peer Support Model

Resource Code:

R 1.3

Introduction to the resource:

The DARE Youth Peer Support Model shows how young people can reach out to their peers and mobilise them to active participation. The model presents 5 stages, based on the attitudes and circumstances of your peers.

What will you get from using this resource?

Young people will get to know strategies and ideas on how they can mobilise and motivate peers with and without disabilities to engage in youth activities on different levels.

Link to resource:

Publication: The DARE Youth Peer Support Model in the DARE Storytelling Handbook for Empowerment

Learning Resource 1.4

Module Title:

Rise to challenges, overcome barriers and succeed: how to mobilise your young PwVHPI peers

Title of Resource:

DARE Practical Guide for Inclusion.

Resource Code:


Introduction to the resource:

Chapter 2 of the guide “Around, over and beyond the barriers” deals with participation barriers and outlines options for overcoming them.

What will you get from using this resource?

The learner gets an insight into participation barriers and is inspired from a practical perspective on tackling them.

Link to resource:

Publication: DARE Practical guide for Inclusion, 2020.

Learning Resource 1.5

Module Title:

Rise to challenges, overcome barriers and succeed: how to mobilise your young PwVHPI peers

Title of Resource:

Removing barriers

Resource Code:


Introduction to the resource:

The short video (1:41min) explains the social model of disabilities and shows that by removing barriers full participation in social and cultural life can be ensured.

What will you get from using this resource?

The viewer will understand how removing barriers can contribute to full participation.

Link to resource:

Video: Removing Barriers (Unlimited, 2018).

For finding out the definition of certain terms with which you may not be familiarised, please read the DARE Practical Guide for Inclusion, the first output DARE project partners developed.


WHO (World Health Organization). Geneva, 2001. International classification of functioning, disability and health. p. 214.


CDC Centre of Disease Control and Prevention. 2019. Common Barriers to Participation Experienced by People with Disabilities. [online] Accessed 09 July 2020.

Council for Disabled Children. 2018. Factsheet #4: Barriers to Participation. [online] Accessed 12 July 2020.

Council of Europe. 2017. T-Kit 8: Social Inclusion. [online] Accessed 12 July 2020.

DARE Digital Storytelling Handbook. 2020. The DARE Youth Peer Support Model. [online] Accessed 02.September 2020.

DARE Mobile App. 2020. [online] Accessed 02 September 2020.

DARE Practical Guide for Inclusion. 2020. [online] Accessed 02.September 2020.

Erasmus+ Programme Guide. 2020. [Online] Accessed 09 July 2020.

European Commission. N/A. What is Erasmus+? [online] Accessed 09 July 2020.

Forschung und Praxis im Dialog. 2019. Access Study on international youth exchange. Results of the research project. [online] Accessed 12 July 2020.

Inclusion Europe. 2019. What is the UN CRPD? [online] Accessed 12 July 2020.

Salto Youth. 2003. No Barriers No Borders. [online] Accessed 10 July 2020.

United Nations enable. N/A. EasyRead guide: International agreement on the rights of disabled people. [online] Accessed 12 July 2020.

Unlimited. 2018. Removing Barriers. [online] Accessed 12 July 2020.

Wikipedia. 2016. Accessibility. [online] Accessed 02 September 2020.

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