Helping Teenagers Imagine their Future

The project enables young people to understand their rights and grow within a democracy, by holding meetings in the Municipal House.


This project is a shared research project aimed at high school students, aged 16-18 years. The project is conducted by students, for students, under the supervision of Riccardo Giumelli, sociologist at Verona University, in collaboration with the Local Ministry of Education, Verona. The goal is to make students aware of their rights by addressing their main right – their right to a future. Students compare their expectations in the context of a constantly changing world, which is not always democratic.


The complex challenges of today's world can generate uncertainty. It is therefore essential to maintain a high level of rights for all, aiming for wide-spread democracy. Adults can help and support young people's development and subsequent integration into adult society. Health, school, citizenship, work, respect, justice, and listening are some of the topics which have been explored over the last seven school years (2012 to 2019), with the involvement of 56 institutes and an annual average participation of 160 students. Meetings among students took place inside the Municipal House using the administration's tools. Year after year it was interesting to see groups of students prepare their final presentations of their results, no matter what theme they covered. Using the council room, seated as judges or acting as performers, students learned to work together in order to be ready to present to an audience made up of students, teachers, parents, and private citizens. 


This is the first such action carried out within schools by a local authority, answering the European Union's call to spread concepts of democracy and rights among citizens. The choice to work with teenagers developed from the understanding that spreading knowledge of rights is a way to increase their demand, which can lead to concrete results for all. The involvement of the Ministry of Public Education innovatively offers students a meeting point for discussion. Numerous parents of over a thousand students were also interested in the project. Very curious and sometimes unaware of their own rights, they offered an autonomous contribution. More than 1000 students, 100 teachers, and about 200 parents, received the message of how important it is to be aware of the richness of rights, that they are part of democracy, and that they must commit to stand by the rights that every human deserves.

Project owner
Stefano Bertacco
Executive Councillor in charge of Social Services, Social Tourism, Employment, Education, Personnel, Municipality of Verona