Strengthening cross-cultural learning and social cohesion through connecting, supporting and empowering young people from Europe and the MENA region in their political lives.
WHY NOW – CONNECTING THE DOTS?
A common misconception in today’s societies is the feeling that polarisation is shaping our views, and that diversity and globalisation compromise social cohesion in our communities. This raises the questions for many, especially young people, if our achievements like peace, democracy, equality, etc. are in danger. Young people play a crucial part in building more cohesive and inclusive societies, sensitive towards the needs of all citizens, especially those facing greater challenges. Young people must get the chance to voice their opinion on decisions that are impacting them on the local, national and international level.
Through “NOW – Connecting the Dots”, we aim to strengthen social cohesion at the local level while promoting youth dialogue, youth participation, and youth empowerment. We support the active participation of young people in democratic life and bring together young people and local decision-makers to foster dialogue in a variety of empowerment and knowledge-exchange activities.
The project engages, connects, and empowers young people internationally through training activities that transfer skills and competences adapted to young peoples’ needs and interests.
Through the project we foster mutual learning among participants, as well as the partner organisations, and make it possible for all to share knowledge, best practices, and local experiences with the common goal to strengthen social cohesion and promote living together in diversity.
- Increasing awareness of young people on the importance of participating and taking an active role in the community and the opportunity for dialogue with local authorities
- Reinforcing self-confidence and self-esteem of young people to take on an active part in their communities and kick-start new initiatives
- Creation of an international network of local youth changemakers
- Increasing young people’s knowledge and understanding of the EU institutions and youth policies
Increasing capacities of partner organisations in the field of youth work at the local, EU, and international levels
- At the local level, we expect that all young people will be mobilised and influenced through the implementation of project activities. We also expect improved relationships between youth groups, community members, and local representatives who get to appreciate and respect the desire and motivation of the young people to actively participate and promote social cohesion. On the other hand, we also expect that local authorities and representatives will realise the benefits of working and cooperating with young people and actually realise their duty and responsibility to include the youth in local decision-making.
The project consists of 4 main activities:
Online Consultation Meetings of Project Partners
Winter 2020 – Autumn 2022
The project partners organise regular online meetings to exchange information on the needs of young people in their respective countries/communities and to co-create, design and further develop the content of the following project activities.
Key activity 1: Local Changemakers Webinar Series
April to October 2021
In our first key activity – the Local Changemakers webinar series – we aim to strengthen the sense of empowerment and engagement through interactive online training sessions. The webinar series equips young people with the necessary skills and knowledge to become changemakers and fosters international dialogue and knowledge-sharing between young people and renowned experts.
Key activity 2: Knowledge Exchange Meeting in Stuttgart
6 – 10 May 2022, Stuttgart (DE)
In our second key activity, our participants finally got the chance to meet in person. We spent 5 days in Stuttgart, where we met to discuss and exchange on the participants’ project ideas. The young participants got the chance to develop their ideas for projects to foster youth participation in their local communities. Moreover, as young changemakers, they got the chance to participate in the ACT NOW Mayors’ Conference 22, where they actively took part in panels, workshops, fire-side talks and best practice-sharing sessions offering insights from other local communities. During the conference, the young participants met fellow changemakers, mayors and experts from Europe and the MENA region and got to discuss their ideas with decision-makers and other stakeholders. They discovered new approaches to transfer learnings to their own activism and presented their needs and ideas to decision-makers.
Key activity 3: Best Practice Sharing in Antwerp and Visit of EU Institutions in Brussels
19 – 23 September 2022, Antwerp and Brussels (BE)
In our third key activity, we spent 3 days in Antwerp and 2 days in Brussels. In Antwerp, our project participants got the chance to visit several organisations, youth centres and institutions responsible for policy-making and active in the youth field. The youth participants experience real-life examples of how these organisations use creative tools and methodologies to foster the active participation of young people in community life and policy-making. In Brussels, we visited EU institutions which gave the participants the opportunity to meet local and municipal representatives from member countries working internationally and learn which role municipalities and local authorities play within the EU’s institutional framework, and in shaping the content of EU legislation. The young changemakers entered into the dialogue with EU representatives and explore Brussels as the hub of European policy-making.
Final Online Session for the Project Closure
In October 2022, we ended the project with a review and info online meeting, which included an info session on Erasmus+ Programmes provided by a representative of the Austrian National Agency. This allowed us to discuss the participants’ impressions on the different activities of the projects and to give them an outlook on future possibilities for projects and activities in the realm of the Erasmus+ funding scheme. So, on 14 October, 2022, an Erasmus+ Programme and Grants Expert from OeAD provided insights into forthcoming funding possibilities and answered numerous questions of 20 highly interested participants. The participants were well equipped and motivated to learn more about possible Erasmus+ Grants for follow-up activities to our project.