“Since Brexit, Europe is at a turning point. For many young people, it all seems to be something that’s happening far away. We consider it our duty to stimulate active citizenship and want to encourage our youth to think about the future.” Bruno Daems, ARhus.
With Our Democratic Europe, 100 youngsters from Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland and Denmark enter into dialogue with each other, entrepreneurs and policy makers. They brainstorm and discuss several important social subjects. During this project, the teenagers are trained as true ambassadors of the program. They help organizing the entire project, for which the teens get the opportunity to follow different workshops. This way, they learn some valuable skills, like how to conduct a meeting or make a good presentation. Simultaneously, they convince their friends, policymakers, and the media of the importance of youth participation.
The group works on four topics: education, climate change, poverty and innovation, spending approximately three to four months per topic. For each of these, every participating country organizes a reginal seminar, where the teenagers brainstorm on the subject and on how they – as youth – can be more involved in the decision-making process.
A few weeks later, an international seminar is held on the subject. Here, the youngsters of each country present their findings and conclusions and discuss these with each other. This way, the teenagers experience that peers from different countries don’t always agree with their opinions, and they learn to see certain subjects from different points of view. The four international seminars always take place in one of the participating countries. Belgium took the last turn with a seminar on Innovation in January 2018.
Once all the seminars are over, the teens merge their most important ideas, proposals and suggestions into one all-encompassing guide. Eventually, the young participants officially hand this document over to the European Commission.
!DROPS manages this project in cooperation with ARhus and coordinates, organizes, and facilitates it in co-creation with the young participants. This project is set up by ARhus, Roeselare’s knowledge center. Together with the Broere libraries, they see it as their duty to make people reflect on society and its future in a neutral environment.
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