Young people in El Kef engage in sports and cultural activities, and explore the great outdoors

Young women and men participate in an exercise class at Maison des Jeunes El Gamoudi.

Between March and May 2017, thirty Youth Mappers* from El Kef spoke with 525 other young people about their challenges, their needs, and the opportunities for them in their community. These conversations highlighted local youth’s awareness of their marginalized situation and lack of available opportunities for them to participate in sports and cultural activities. To respond to this need, the USAID-funded Sharekna Project to Support Youth and Empower Local Communities (Sharekna) is supporting El Kef’s local youth center, known as Maison des Jeunes El Gamoudi, by providing equipment and training support for several of its activities. The youth center is located at the edge of downtown Kef, close to schools and communities with lower socio-economic backgrounds. Its existing services include a web-radio club, a film club, and dance and theatre activities. Moreover, Sharekna has supported youth to create a new Outdoor Club from scratch.

The Outdoor Club holds mountain biking excursions, and sports exercises, as well as relevant trainings, such as cycling lessons for beginners. Sharekna has provided equipment such as mountain bikes, helmets, bike servicing equipment, and bike locks, and supports the provision of trainings. So far, the club has 21 participants (15 males and 6 females) aged from 10-27 years, and is divided into two groups: a beginners’ and an advanced group. The two groups meet regularly every week and carry out activities adapted to their level of competence.

Sharekna is working with center staff to encourage gender parity and participation from youth from diverse socio-economic backgrounds. The club is providing opportunities to young people to participate in meaningful leisure activities while engaging actively in their communities and connecting with nature. Moreover, being entirely youth-led, the creation of the club has given young people a chance to have their voices heard and practice their leadership skills.

*Youth Mappers are young people involved in Sharekna’s Community Youth Mapping process, a youth-led data collection and analysis process

Yahya is 18 years old. He is known for his sociability and ease with people. He is currently working for his baccalaureateand passionate about sporting activities. In his spare time, Yahya likes to go hiking, camping and mountain biking. He has taken part in many hikes and campingtrips, and has gone on several mountain biking circuits, including one from El Kef to Tunis, which he remembers as particularly special.Of his participation in the Outdoor Club at El Kef’s Maison des Jeunes, Yahya says:

“Iintegrated quickly. I am aleader of this club and amresponsible for a group of 10 participants. I have madefriends with many new people. I believe that Ican make valuable contributions to the club, given that I amexperienced as well as very passionate about hiking, camping and mountain biking. I hopethat the club can succeed in spreading the value of outdoor activity in the region of Kef. The Outdoor Club is a dream for me. Myexperience with Sharekna will allow meto strengthen mycapacity and to live new adventures with other participants.”

Mansour graduated from his baccalaureate in 2014, and continued his studies in Physical Education. He is a leader in El Kef’s mountain biking club. In his spare time, Mansour likes to read, and practice sports with his friends to avoid stress.

Mansour engages in the Outdoor Club’s sporting activities at El Kef’s ‘Maison des Jeunes’ as much as possible, especially in mountain biking activities. He says:

“My favoriteexperience is to develop my capacity in thedomain of my studies, because sport promotes physical and mental health, and I like sharing joyfulness and positive vibes with others.”

Mohamed is 22 years old. He graduated from his baccalaureate in 2014 and has a diploma in Physical and Sports Education. He has been practicing athletics and bodybuilding for 3 years, and is a member of a mountain biking group. In his spare time, Mohamed likes to go to the gym, to spend time with friends and to take photographs. Mohamed is actively involved in the Maison des Jeunes and its Outdoor Club. He says:

“My membership is very important to me because my participation in sports and cultural events further my intellectual development in the domain of my studies. My favorite experience, which encouraged me to get involved in the Outdoor Club, is camping and hiking.”