In the period 30.03 – 01.04.2022, in Katowice, Poland, the first meeting under the CHEER initiative was held. The project aims to improve the mental health of young people by stimulating their creativity and using their youthful enthusiasm. The crisis related to the coronavirus epidemic is having a negative impact on young people in Europe. The fight against the epidemic and the restrictions introduced weakened the mental condition of youth. Many of them feel that it intends to take from them their most precious time in their life – youth. As a result, young people experience many mental problems without institutional and social support. These problems have direct impact on their education and professional development. Moreover, at present we are unable to predict all the effects of the current state in the future. It is certain, however, that it will be a negative experience for an entire generation that needs support and renewed energy to overcome difficulties. The group that also experiences many problems in the above context are youth workers, who face problems with their mental state, but also with the lack of appropriate educational tools and skills.

The CHEER project aims to improve the mental health of young people by stimulating their creativity and using their youthful enthusiasm. The planned activities will connect two distant zones: health and creativity, into one holistic program for youth. First, it will be dedicated directly to this age group, encouraging young people in running courses and a taking positive actions to their peers. The axis of the project is the approach to contemporary challenges related to mental health, resulting in burnout, depression and social inactivity. The way we propose to young recipients is creativity and art, allowing for peace, but also introducing changes in their professional and personal life. Effective support for young people requires new competences from educators and applying innovative education. The project aims to provide such educational tools and raise the qualifications of youth workers.

The project will last 30 months, from 2021 till 2024 and will be based on two main activities. The first will be self-help tool in the form of a card deck of CHEER CARDS, aimed directly at young people, containing innovative and diverse activities that develop creativity and improve mental health. The cards will be tested by young people during the youth exchange, thanks to which the result will have an impact on the target groups from the beginning of the project. The second activity will be the creation of a series of educational audio recordings on social media, dedicated to the problems of mental health and including methods to stimulate creativity. Accompanying results will be the improvement of the competences of youth workers, educators and youth leaders. Through the educational workshops, educators will learn how to strengthen the mental health of young people, diagnose problems, support the group and stimulate creativity in a non-formal spirit.

The CHEER project is co-funded under the Erasmus+ program of the European Union and is based on the long-term partnership of the "HOPP" Association from Poland with Bulgarian sports development association from Bulgaria and the inclusion of two new partners Teatro Metaphora from Portugal and Mladinski Ormož from Slovenia. The partnership represents a variety of sectors and activities, which will allow synergies to be achieved during the two years of the project. The first international meeting of the initiative was attended by Joanna Dochevska, chairperson of BSDA, and Elitsa Dochevska, volunteer in the organization.