With the ACT NOW Youth Network, The Innovation in Politics Institute is creating a platform for empowering young people to be changemakers in their communities. At the online launch event in January 2021, more than 40 young people from 13 countries, a mayor, a civil society expert, and three youth activists spoke about how they became changemakers and what it takes to drive positive change at the local level.
If you want to be useful to people, there is no way you won’t be
“Changemaking is so much more accessible than you think. You don’t need expertise, you don’t need a degree, you don’t need a huge platform, all you need is organising.” Youth activist Zahraa Issa co-founded Locate Victims Beirut together with Emma Sleiman and Akshit Anchan just hours after the devastating explosion in 2020.
Neither the government nor NGOs agreed to support them. Being teenagers without the backing of an established organisation or financial resources, they turned to social media to gain visibility. Now, the platform plays a vital role in re-connecting families and providing support for people in need.
“If you are passionate about what you want to do in order to help others, you will get your point across and you will make a change in people’s lives.”ZAHRAA ISSA, CO-FOUNDER OF LOCATE VICTIMS BEIRUT
Drawing strength from scarcity
Apart from not being taken seriously, a lack of financial support is another great challenge faced by young people. Besnik Leka, Independent Gender Advisory Consultant and former Project Coordinator of CARE International Balkans, was only 14 when he started being active in his community in Kosovo. His experience taught him that having no resources can actually be a catapult rather than a hindrance – if one taps into one’s abilities, strengths and creativity. “When you don’t have resources, you can simply stop. Or you go and find resources. My lack of opportunities helped me grow.”
“When you find yourself not knowing what to do, this is when you find out what you can do.”BESNIK LEKA, INDEPENDENT GENDER ADVISORY CONSULTANT
Being persistent is key
Isabella Conti, Mayor of the Municipality of San Lazzaro di Savena in Italy spoke about her path from youth activist to mayor and was impressed by the participants’ contributions. “Today I have something to think about because I want to try to make it easier for the young people in my city, I want to give them instruments, chances and opportunities to grow and be part of our city and our council. It is with the day to day practice that you can make a difference. Everyone of you can be part of a beautiful process, but we have to do it every day and we have to love what we do.”
The ACT NOW Youth Network is a platform for mutual support, inspiration, and learning for young people ready to foster social cohesion in their communities. It aims to provide youths with the necessary skills, tools, and knowledge to get their voices heard and successfully implement projects.
Currently, we are developing the curriculum and programme for the upcoming year, consisting of online workshops and trainings, as well as networking opportunities.
Would you like to be part of the process? Or do you know someone who might be interested? Find out more or join us at: https://innovationinpolitics.eu/en/actnow/youth-network/join/