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What is the First Step to Europe?

During our second meeting of the Erasmus+ KA2 project "FIRST STEP TO EUROPE - boosting active citizenship among youth in small cities" we were able to find the answer of that question in Drama, Greece hosted by our partners from INNOVATING ACTIVITIES IN EDUCATION, TOURISM, HEALTH AND INTERCULTURALITY.

During the longevity of the project we are working on what is exactly the state of engagement of young people (aged 15-30) in the rural areas of Europe, why is it crucial for our societies, and how can we organise a meaningful youth participation it in a productive way – for youth themselves and for all of us? Having proper answers to these questions made our cooperation stronger and helped the project meetings to be as effective as possible.

In our Drama meeting, we participated, altogether with numerous local youngsters, decision-makers, representatives from various organizations and citizens altogether creating a meaningful debate and a youth festival called "Europe is here".

During the festival we gave successful examples, and did interesting debates on

European identity, Democracy, inclusive democratic participation and Awareness about the European Union.

In order to most effectively reach the local youngsters, we visited the local high-schools and created experiential workshops, while discussing with their peers from Poland, Italy, Bulgaria and Greece about topics such as European values, their participation in politics, freedom in Education, misinformation in the Media, protection of the environment, as well as the voluntary actions of young people in their local communities.

How can we make sure that we involve young people from rural areas in a meaningful way? Of course there can be a lot of ways to do so. Here are some of the suggestions which we concluded during our meeting:

  • Clarity and partnership – it is important to be very explicit in defining the role and tasks of young people in the organisation. To be able to take responsibility for their engagement, young people must understand very clearly what is expected from them and how they can contribute.

  • Ownership – Empower, don’t overpower. Give young people responsibilities, let them create projects and make decisions. Most of all – make sure that their voice has a real impact on the organisation. Creating transparent structures (like youth councils or even seats in executive bodies) may help in proving that the voice of the youth is not only welcomed but also has an agency.

  • Capacity building – by maintaining a high degree of organisation professionalism we can provide opportunities for young people to gain new skills and develop personally. We should also continuously educate ourselves on the best ways to cooperate with young people.

  • Inclusion – European youth is extremely diverse in the sense of their life situation and personal context. Therefore while creating opportunities for young people to engage, we should make sure that we will reach those various groups, concentrating on the rural areas. We as organisations need to listen and adapt to the needs of the youth and raise awareness about their circumstances.

Because if young people ‘are the future’, that needs to start now!

In the following post, you are going to be able to read the story of Dimitri, one of the few social entrepreneurs in Drama, Greece.

The project is funded by the Erasmus+ program of the European Commission

Participating organisations:


Stowarzyszenie Rozprawy o Europie Mobility Opportunities Happening APS

Academy for active youth association

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