The specific program that includes universal and selective prevention, called Volunteers of Healthy City of Poreč, was established on the base of theoretical knowledge and the interviews on the needs of young people in our community about ten years ago.
The Healthy City Volunteer program was made as a solution out of the institution for the following needs of young people (program users), of the Healthy City of Poreč organization and the complete local communities:
- Support to young people in specific phases of development (satisfaction of the adolescents’ needs with quality, influence of the personal growth and development);
- The acquisition of the role of peer helper in the social groups;
- Initiating and implementing the social actions in solving specific youth problems;
- Promoting the ideas of Healthy City (WHO project – “Health for all”)
- Activation of young people in the voluntary activities of the Healthy City and others associations of the city for the large local community, organization of the social actions;
- Increasing of the protection factors in the community with the goal to prevent the risky behavior.
For ten years, the Healthy City Volunteers program systematically includes young people of the city of Poreč to prevent the risky behavior by investing in the personal growth and development of young people and by carrying out the social actions. It’s designed as a multi-year continuous work with motivated teenagers. The environment of the program is the local community. This model is also applicable to groups of elementary and high school.
In the vision of the activities of the Healthy City Young Volunteers project of Poreč, we wanted to act in three segments in the local environment:
- Individual-level activities – offer to the young people an educational program for understanding the human behavior and adopting social skills with the goal of personal growth and development.
- Immediate environment – act on the peer group with the goal to help peers, reduce the risky factors and increase the protective factors in the peer impact.
- Local community – through a social and preventive actions and voluntary activities created and carried out by young people, directed to the young people but also to the others groups of citizens.
Added in this way, the program vision covers the national, regional and local priority (the prevention of addictions and risky behaviors of kids and young people, the affirmation of positive values).
The program was conceived so that young people can do it in a continuous and developmental way over a period of 2 to 3 years. The program has been running for almost nine years and it’s specific on the national level, it represents an authentic project of the program executives (it has been presented in several occasions at the specialist’ congresses and in the specialized literature, in some publications).
- In the educational part, young people adopt the knowledge about the human behavior and about the personal behavior.
- In continues, there is a work on oneself through the adoption of the mastery of the decision-making process and the increase of the values of responsible behavior in relation with oneself and other people in the near and far environment.
- The last phase of development is related with the transmission of the acquired knowledge and the help to the people of the proper environment (to the peers with the development difficulties – peer helper, to the disabled people, to the elderly…) and to the development of sensitivity and readiness for humanitarian work. The educated young volunteers are included in all actions of the City of Poreč in which they can help ( The costume party for kids, Fairy tale of Poreč, Poreč 24, sport’s events – Triathlon, the Dolphin of Poreč, specialist’s conferences, humanitarian actions – collection of good for the sick, the World Health Day, the Month of the fight against addiction, Avenue of Health of NGO’s activities and similar things).
The multi-year work of this program has shown that young people have a high level of potential and motivation for a compliant attitude during the structured program for the improvement of their health as well as the health of the entire community. The evaluation of this pilot program the success off all the general evaluation criteria (the realization of the individual goals and progresses, the satisfaction of the members for the participation in group work, a high level of the realization of the goals and group assignments, and an exceptional quality of socio-emotional relationship in the group).
The evaluation of long- term results at the individual level has also shown excellent results. There were obtained by the longitudinal monitoring of 70 volunteers that were followed in the program for 2 to 4 years. Some of the long-term positive results are: the personal gain, the healthy and safe behavior, the better academic performance, the better socio-emotional functioning, the greater willingness to help, the better understanding and acceptance of others, the positive attitude for the collaboration, the greater self-esteem, a constant desire for the improvement of life.