Due to the fact that in its application to become European Capital of Culture 2024 (“ARCTICULATION”), Bodø chose as the 1st of its 5 key priorities “Children and YOUNG PEOPLE”, we found this as a good opportunity to visit 3 of the cities active youth centres and to have a meeting with the youth department of the Municipality of Bodø.
In this context, the vice president of ENYC, Yolanda FLORESCU, found out about the profile of young people in Bodø, about how the facilities function, the methods used by the youth workers and about the challenges that young people face in this city (brain drain combined with the situation of young immigrants that face cultural barriers, the lack of opportunities for young people etc.). In this context, especially due to the European dimension of the city’s cultural programme, and the existence of the local network of youth centres, ENYC could play an active role in facilitating, at European level, the exchange of good practices of social inclusion and tackling important issues for young people through culture, using culture as attractive and engaging youth work method.
On 13-17 of August 2019, a delegation from the Republic of Moldova (youth workers, youth centres directors, representatives of the Ministry of Education) came to Timisoara to exchange good practices regarding youth centres.
In this context, the vice president of ENYC (Yolanda FLORESCU) had a 3 hours meeting with this delegation. During this time, she presented our network, how does it operate, the benefits of being a member and, together, they agreed to keep in contact due to the good impression of the guests with regard to the diversity of the common projects of the members, to the benefits for young people and to the creativity developed by the youth workers who experience this kind of international cooperation contexts.
On 12 of August – the International Youth Day, organised under the UN headline “Transforming Education”, which highlights efforts to make education more relevant, equitable and inclusive for all youth, including efforts by youth themselves, and in the context of Youth Centres UP (the European Solidarity Corps project with the biggest number of volunteers, which had as result 5 new youth centres), Timis County Youth Foundation create the context for 150 young people coming from 4 continents, to promote community change through activities initiated by young people.
The message that Yolanda send to the participants, through her speech, on behalf of ENYC, is the following:
It is a great pleasure for me to be here today, in front of you and it has been for all these weeks to have the privilege to witness all the effort you put in either being change-makers, either discovering our world’s biggest challenges and the priorities we have to tackle.
We are here today inside the only youth centre in Romania awarded with the Quality Label for Youth Centres from the Council of Europe. And, even if I am the vicepresident of a network which was initiated by the Council of Europe, I am also a big fan of small-sized youth centres and I strongly believe that this project teaches a massive lesson to many public authorities when it comes to how to approach young people. The answer that this project gives is: “Go to them, in their neighbourhoods, next to their homes, in their environments and create this kind of safe spaces TOGETHER with them”.
A youth centre is definitely the space were young people discover UNESCO’s four pillars:
Learning to LIVE TOGETHER. Is a dynamic, holistic and lifelong process through which the shared values are internalized and practiced. It involves the development of social skills and values such as respect and concern for others, social and inter-personal skills and an appreciation of the diversity of the World.
Learning to KNOW. Implies learning how to learn by developing one’s concentration, memory skills and ability to think. Learning to know involves the development of knowledge and skills that are needed to function the world. These skills include literacy, numeracy and critical thinking.
Learning to DO. Implies putting knowledge and learning into practice innovatively through skills development and practical know-how, development of competences, life skills, personal qualities, aptitudes and attitudes.
Learning to BE. It involves activities that foster personal development (body, mind and spirit) and contribute to creativity, personal discovery and an appreciation of the inherent values provided by these pursuits.
Can all of these be acquired and developed in a youth centres? Can we learn to LIVE TOGETHER? Of course, we can. Can we learn toKNOW? Of course, we can. Can we learn toDO? Of course, we can. Can we learn to BE? Definitely, especially when the youth centre is in the neighbourhoods, is inside the community.
But, remember that education is at the heart of both personal and community development. And when the youth centres are developed BY young people who embrace the values of solidarity, respect for human dignity and human rights, and believe in the promotion of a fair and equal society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality prevail, the future is even brighter.
I was mentioning that “Youth Centres UP” teaches a massive lesson to public authorities. But this is a coin with two sides, and we cannot expect this example to be multiplied identically, because is our common responsibility to be aware of, to respect and even to contribute to the 4 A’s for education:
In October 2019, the president of ENYC, Heli LEHTO, had the opportunity to participate in a seminar for participants from 14 different youth organisations from the Caribbean and Europe.
The seminar “The Youngsters’ Trail” focused on developing the skills, methods and tools of the organisations that are working or willing to work in European volunteering programs and aimed at creating a network and sustainable partnerships for youth mobilities between organisations from Europe, partner countries and the Caribbean.
During this seminar, Heli hold a dynamic workshop about the role of ENYC in creating the context for good cooperation between youth organisations and the benefits for young people and the communities they live in. The participants were eager to hear more, especially because this type of network was a new concept for them and got inspired by the power of the group and the wonderful outcomes that we get when we work together.
Our host was D’Antilles & D’Ailleurs, which is an organization that works for the education and promotion of active and democratic participation, in particular of women and young people with fewer opportunities, promoting diversity, equality, inclusion and strengthening the fight against discrimination.