Diving in the deep: Analyzing youth participation around Europe

We’ve started the morning going back to medieval times by being princesses, dragons and castles that have to move around and form new positions in order to energize ourselves and to get ready for the upcoming activities.

We started with the Manual on the European Charter on the participation of young people in local and regional life. First, we answered questions regarding basic definitions and approaches to youth participation in national teams. Afterwards, we discussed with another country’s members and exchanged our experience and knowledge.

In the same teams, we were introduced to the ‘Ladder of Participation’ – which are the main stages and where would we place the level of partnership between young people and adults in our local community or organization. Of course, reaching the highest rung on the ladder, “shared decision making”, there are many obstacles and challenges on the way. That is why we had to think about which are the most important 5 obstacles that we face as youth workers while working on youth participation. We discussed in couples again and shared our ranking.

Working on youth participation also has a lot of positive elements and conditions. That’s why the last task was to first choose the 5 most important conditions that encourage youth participation and then in our couple, to choose only one that we consider the most fundamental for our work. The obstacles were things which some take for granted such as, Access to information, Access to technology, Knowledge about young people’s situation, Identity, Lifestyle, etc.

After defining those, we had the chance to discuss about each of the elements one by one and to place it on a scale from 0 to 100% according to its importance to youth participation, from our perspective.

We continued with getting to know the different aspects of youth participation at a local level through existing sectoral policies that play an important role in creating the right conditions and infrastructure for young people to participate in the life of their schools, organizations or communities. Working in teams, we ranked them again from most to least important.

Following the previous activity, we were introduced to the social inclusion and its role in our work.

At the end of first half of the day, we worked on the RMSOS framework (right, means, space, opportunity, support) which is about assessing the extent to which each of the five factors is influencing youth participation within a project, initiative, organisation or in community life.

        – Nikolay, Bulgaria