In this episode we examine co-creative research and implementation which is the common denominator in the three projects in focus during the episode: REFUGE-ED, KIDS4ALL and NEW ABC Project. Participants: Angel Fuentes, Horizon 2020 Project Officer for REFUGE-ED Rachele Antonini, NEW ABC Project, Università di Bologna Roberta Ricucci, KIDS4ALL Project, Università di Torino Sotirios Petropoulos, KIDS4ALL Project, University of Peloponnese Teresa Sordé Martí, REFUGE-ED Project, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona Moderator: Ashley Nemiro, Acting Director of the MHPSS Collaborative

Co-creation is a collaborative approach that involves all stakeholders in the research and implementation of pilot actions. It is a key requirement for all EU projects and is a step forward in the democratization of scientific research. In a recent webinar moderated by Ashley Namiro, the Acting Director of the MHPSS Collaborative, Principal Investigators from Horizon 2020 research projects – Kids4All, New ABC, and REFUGE-ED – discussed the challenges and opportunities of co-creation in research with migrants and refugees.

The New ABC project aims to contribute to the educational culture and social inclusion of children with a migrant background by taking a collaborative and participatory approach in the co-creation of nine innovation pilot actions. The co-creation process in the project involved drafting a methodology protocol and starting a conversation among the pilot teams on procedures, evaluation procedures, issues, and barriers that were expected. The conversation continued amongst the groups, and the project included co-creation in every single stage of the piloting experience.

The Kids4All project focuses on co-creating innovative solutions for the inclusion of migrant children in education. The project has developed a toolkit that supports the implementation of co-creation, which includes guidelines, best practices, and a set of tools that facilitate communication and collaboration between stakeholders.

The REFUGE-ED project is promoting the integration of migrant children from zero to 18 in six different countries in different settings, including schools and non-formal and informal educational settings. The project involves working with partners who are leading specialists in the MHPSS to promote dynamic integration. The project is framed under a community-based framework, and all practices proposed for pilot sites involve the community. The project has a long-standing commitment to working collaboratively with communities, using the communicative methodology to break down hierarchical interpretation gaps.

“Co-creation is not an easy method, especially for researchers and academics. It means taking a step back and allowing other participants to be co-researchers, co-designers, co-implementors of all the activities” – Rachele Antonini, NEW ABC Project, Università di Bologna

Co-creation has several benefits, including the involvement of stakeholders in research and the development of solutions that are more relevant to their needs. Co-creation also promotes innovation and a sense of ownership and responsibility among stakeholders, which can lead to more sustainable and effective solutions. However, co-creation also has its challenges, including the need for clear communication and the management of power dynamics between stakeholders. Co-creation requires a significant amount of time and resources, and it can be difficult to balance the needs and perspectives of different stakeholders.

The co-creation process of a pilot project was discussed by Rachele Antonini, NEW ABC Project, Università di Bologna, who negotiated the mission idea with participants. The design, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of the project were co-designed with participants, and a log was kept to track the co-creation principles, challenges, impact, semiotics of space, and conflict management ethics. The speaker highlighted the importance of creating rituals, finding facilitators, and working with simplified communications to keep participants engaged. The project focused on developing inclusion paths for children, migrants, and second generations in welcoming societies, and the speaker emphasized the importance of international networking activities to build such projects.

“People are enthusiastic to learn more and know more about scientific knowledge, but they are not willing to take it as a top-down process. They want to problematize, to question, to participate in the implementation of this knowledge and this practice.” – Teresa Sordé Martí, REFUGE-ED Project, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

In conclusion, co-creation is a valuable approach to research and innovation, particularly in projects that focus on the inclusion of marginalized communities such as refugees and migrants. Co-creation promotes collaboration and innovation and ensures that solutions are relevant to the needs of stakeholders. However, co-creation requires clear communication and the management of power dynamics, as well as a significant amount of time and resources. Overall, co-creation is a step forward in the democratization of scientific research and can lead to more sustainable and effective solutions.

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