Telecentre Europe Awards 2016 Entry: e-Facilitator

Eric Gijssen

Country: Belgium

City/Town: Anderlecht, Brussels

Work Place: MAKS vzw

Position: e-facilitator

Years in service in current organization: 15

Years in service as e-facilitator: 20

People supported/trained: 5 000

Nominated by:  Jan Debognies, manager, MAKS vzw

1. WORK EXPERIENCE

Eric has been an e-facilitator at Maks vzw in Anderlecht (Brussels) for 15 years. He is involved in development and facilitation of ICT-projects (bridging the digital divide and promoting media literacy) and coaching on the job of facilitators in training.  Eric works with a large diversity of disadvantaged youngsters in Brussels. He has worked with refugees, inmates, recovering addicts, victims of violence, etc.

Eric worked as a part-time teacher in Photography and Audiovisual arts at an Anderlecht public school, next to his job at Maks vzw.

Eric also has a rich international experience: he was a coach and facilitator for project ‘Reporter Cidadão’ at a local community TV/radio in Brazil; he worked at a telecentre Casa Brasil and co-hosted a radio program ‘As Irmãs Brutas’ on gender issues; and he was a street outreach worker at Quincho Barrilete in Nicaragua, doing theatre and video projects.

His has a background in film making and sound engineering.

2. PROFESSIONALISM

Eric has developed methodologies to teach youngsters to code and to be creative with new media. He is specialised in using digital media to give disadvantaged groups a voice, inviting them at the same time to a lifelong learning process and to an integration process. Taking part in essential dialogues about poverty, elections, domestic violence, hate crimes, Eric helps people to reflect and change attitudes.

Since 2012, Eric has been running game coding projects with children and teenagers. Participants strengthen their IT-skills, acquire mathematical skills, improve language skills and hone soft skills like creativity, expression and collaboration. While writing the scenario for a game, they are invited to analyse certain social problems in their environnement.

3. ONE OF A KIND

Eric is a very patient and very driven coach. He wants to motivate young people to show their full potential. Eric picks people for project when he knows they can learn a lot, never the ones that will be easier to work with. He creates a safe environnement where young people dare to express themselves fully. He brings out their creativity as a motivator to learn new skills. He encourages them to be critical but optimistic. He has a strong sense of social justice that appeals a lot to young people from disadvantaged areas. He keeps innovating his practices to make them as effective and engaging as possible. He stays in contact with the young people he works with for many years to keep involving them in projects and to mentor them.

4. EXAMPLE

Eric facilitated a project in a rehab centre for young addicts. The youngsters made a game about addiction and how their drug abuse started. They learned coding skills, but they also analysed their addiction in a new way. Therapists at the rehad centre congratulated Eric on his approach and how he got young people using this method to talk about their problems.

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