Youth Pool 2021 – Reflections

Youth Pool has been an inspiring initiative and an interesting experiment for us. We launched it at the beginning of February 2021 and we promised to be a tool for youth empowerment that applies hybrid youth work (digital and physical) without geographic and socioeconomic limitations. 

We managed to create an online space where young people came together virtually from all over the world, shared knowledge and experiences, explored the challenges in their community, collaborated together, supported each other and worked with the local community to implement interventions to advocate for youth rights and change. 

The challenges of this journey were many, including the time differences among the participants, the different group dynamics and connection issues. However, the outcomes and impacts rewarded us and gave us hope for the future of youth work and the participation of young people in the community. 

Everything began with a series of online meetings involving young people from different parts of the world and four continents (Asia, South America, Africa, Europe). Some of them continued participating in the online meeting and others decided to work on their ideas offline. 

In a period of 8 months, young people undertook local research on youth needs, explored good practices in their communities, drafted and implemented their advocacy activities focused on different thematic priorities. Each step and task undertaken offline was based on inputs and guidelines provided during the online meetings. During the online meetings, participants had the opportunities to exchange thoughts and ideas that helped them develop their plans and strategies for their advocacy actions. 

Five distinct thematic groups were developed and five series of advocacy activities connected to the thematic priorities have been implemented by the youth pool participants. Some of the youth pool participants chose to work individually with the support of their supporting organisation and some others chose to also stay in contact with each other and exchange feedback on their progress during the summer. Below you can see the Youth Pool groups developed by the participants and have a glimpse of their advocacy actions.

  • Activities for promoting mental health among young people – Kosovo & Germany

Mental health problems among young people seem not to be taken seriously. Young people around the world struggle with mental issues, trying to cope with anxiety and depression. This particular intervention aimed to create a safe space where teens will be able to share/connect with others on the topic of mental health and wellbeing. To achieve this, Youth Pool participants organised a multilevel series of activities that involved the development of a blog, social media accounts, online info sessions and interactive meetings in natural places with local youths. Check the presentations of participants from Kosovo and Germany.

  • Social inclusion against discrimination – Peru

We, as humans, carry multiple identities that make our individual experience of privilege and oppression unique. Discrimination due to gender, sexuality, race, culture, physical ability, ethnicity and nationality can take different forms and affect each person differently. Understanding the structures and systems that reinforce discrimination, require the implementation of holistic approaches and practices. This particular intervention involved a series of in person discussions with people that have faced different types of discrimination, trying to identify connections and raise awareness on the importance of social inclusion. Check the presentation here.

  • Community participation and interactive education – Peru

Interactive and participatory education has been proven to benefit the learners and the community. This project included education practices that involved participants in the process of learning and promoted sustainability. Activities such as urban gardening, beach clean-ups, secondhand markets and children’s environmental activities were organised in this project. Furthermore, the covid-19 forced civil society to explore digital paths to address community challenges. In these series of activities, online workshops and seminars were also organised to promote quality education and help participants learn English in a playful and interactive manner. This project advocated for the importance and effectiveness of non-formal education to improve learning and community engagement. Check the presentation here.

  • Promoting EU possibilities for young people – Latvia

Despite the effort from the youth organisations and the EU institutions, not many young people know about the available educational opportunities the EU is offering. This is a clutial issue when it comes to inclusivity for young people that do not have access to such information. This action involved a series of presentations to schools and communication with local young people to raise awareness on the available training and other opportunities for young people. The action includes a series of campaigns with testimonies on the benefits of participation to projects such as Erasmus+. Additionally, Youth Pool is being showcased as an example and good practice for youth participation. Check the presentation here.

  • Youth participation in the EU – Brussels

Beyond access to information about educational opportunities for young people, another gap that is evident is the lack of awareness on ways young people can participate in the decision making in the EU. This project involved a series of games, discussions with decision makers and presentations that aimed at the production of ideas and proposals from the young participants that could be directed to the EU institutions through the Conference on the Future of Europe platform. Check the presentation here.

What did the Youth Pool participants say about Youth Pool 2021?

Things I liked…

  • Communicating and socializing with other young people!
  • Getting new perspectives from the new people I met during the project.
  • Sharing ideas and knowledge.
  • Sharing similar youth related concerns.
  • Interaction with people.
  • Gaining new knowledge about different topics.
  • Working with people from all over the world
  • Creation of a safe online space!
  • Felt like I was abroad in the corona restrictions time (when you couldn’t travel)
  • Advocacy!!

Things I take from Youth Pool…

  • New skills (organisation skills, communication skills, advocacy skills)
  • Diversity of the people and the ideas
  • The implementation phase 
  • Talking to other people and getting new contacts
  • New partnerships and friends
  • Good energy

How could Youth Pool 2022 be improved and evolved?

  • Spend more time together to get to know each other
  • More frequent online meetings
  • New tools and processes, further resources
  • Mentorship by previous Youth Pool participants and experts in the field of interest
  • Skills bank

Check all the steps and outcomes of Youth Pool 2021 here

The Youth Pool 2021 toolkit is available here [EN, GR]. 

To learn more about Youth Pool, you can contact Amerissa Giannouli.