The third and final activity included in our work plan on 2020, the international summer camp ”Cultivating youth participation” was carried out in a hybrid format, in February 2021, with participants meeting in national groups or connecting exclusively online. In spite of almost one year of continuous uncertainty, endless online meetings and fluctuating periods of hope and fear, the winter camp was a vibrant activity that brought a concrete and significant finality to the activities planned for 2021.

The hybrid winter camp „Cultivating youth participation” was the third activity included in the our work plan „Rock, paper, participation” which is co-funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe, Renovabis and the European Commission.

The winter camp was organised between 20-23 February 2021, after going through a significant risk of not being organised at all. Luckily the new Board members of MIJARC Europe decided to take the risk of postponing the activity for 2021 and made efforts to encourage our member movements to organise residential national groups or select participants to connect online. Our movements from Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia and Romania organised in person events, while the participanta in Belgium, Germany and Malta connected online. A group of 61 registered participants, representing 7 European countries joined the activity. 43 of them attended the winter camp for its entire duration.

The general aim was to increase participants’ knowledge on how to design, plan and manage participatory projects aimed at increasing the level of participation of their peers in decision-making and in policy development about sustainable agriculture at local level. The main tool was the participatory project methodlogy (PPM) proposed in the “Have your say” Manual. The PPM provided the backbone for designing real, concrete projects addresing at least one of the issues related to youth involvement in agriculture that had previously been identified during the local visits.

Almost 90% of the participants declared in the formal evaluation forms their satisfaction and increased motivation to ecourage the participation of their peers in decision-making and in policy development about sustainable agriculture at the local level. More than 80% of the participants felt that the activity had achieved all three of its major objectives, namely:

81% of the participants shared that they have participated and felt included during the activities. One of the factors that made this possible was the local facilitators’ presence and contribution. Another factor was the work in small groups in a virtual environment and instant feedback given by the team of educators and facilitators.

DAY 1

The first day of the activity started with a session in which the participants had the opportunity to get to know each other and the educational team, as well. The second session of the first day aimed to introduce the work done by MIJARC Europe and its member organisations until the moment and give an overview of the previous activities on the local level. The third session was an introductory session for the topics of Youth participation and the Revised European Charter On The Participation Of Young People In Local And Regional Life. As there were participants with different experience and background on youth work and youth empowerment, the session also aimed to ensure that all of the participants are on the same page and have the same understanding of the key concepts of participation and youth work. The participants were introduced to a couple of definitions of youth participation given in the Charter. After discussing and creating the « working definition », the participants were divided into two small groups and introduced to the six-step-model of using the Charter and the RMSOS approach, also provided in the “Have your say!”  manual of the CoE. The fourth session was dedicated to the Participatory Project Methodology. Besides the questions of the participants, additional value to the session came from the first-hand experience and examples shared by the local facilitators and the educational team.

DAY 2

The first session of the second day introduced the Participatory Project Methodology (PPM) framework in details. The session was build based on the information shared on the “Have your say!” manual and T-Kit 3: Project Management of the CoE. The second session was dedicated to sustainable agriculture and youth empowerment, with Janna Herzig, a young expert, presenting two projects: La Bolina (Spain) and Solawi Köln (Germany). By presenting the projects, the expert emphasised the vital role of youth participation in the management and the CSA model as a positive alternative, too. The following two sessions were dedicated to the work of the national groups on creating project proposals and implementing the aspects of the PPM framework.

DAY 3

The third day started with deeper elaborating on the topic of youth participation in the context of sustainable agriculture. The participants had the possibility to learn more about MIJARC Europe’s best practices, policies developed during the years and fruitful partnerships. Next, the participants used the Kent Mcdonald’s Stakeholder Map graphic method, modified according to the project’s specifics and the session. The session helped the teams get a clear idea of their strengths and weaknesses in implementing future participatory projects and their interactions with different stakeholders. The third and fourth sessions were dedicated to sharing expertise and creating project proposals in national group work with the support of an external expert from KLJB Germany. At the end of the third day was the International evening of MIJARC Europe. The virtual cultural event was facilitated in an interactive and fun way by the facilitators. The national groups had to present 10 unknown fun facts about their countries and play their favourite song. At the end of every presentation, there was a time for questions and answers, so the participants could understand more about each country’s culture and traditions.

”It was a nice project! The hybrid method is really challenging and it’s not easy organizing such activity so all of your efforts are very appreciated 🙂 You did a really nice job after all and I’m looking forward to the next projects!!! Love you guys”

participant to the Winter Camp

DAY 4

The winter camp’s last day started with presenting the national groups’ projects proposals. Each group presented their proposals and received feedback with some ideas for implementation. Most of the groups had successfully applied the PPM framework and addressed the issues related to sustainable agriculture that could be beneficial for their societies. The following session was dedicated to a presentation on applying for grant opportunities and finance their project proposals. That session helped the participants increase their knowledge of the actual funding opportunities they can use to finance their project ideas, better understand fundraising at the European level, and be more confident in finding the resources for implementing their projects. The Winter camp ended with an evaluation and planning future steps session. The planning activity aimed to encourage the participants to foresee some possible deadlines, make a calendar with activities, and be more engaged with the two main topics of the Winter camp – Participatory Project Management and Sustainable agriculture.

The main outputs of the hybrid seminar are seven project proposals tackling the problems identified during the local visits and discussed during the Winter camp, including the examples of the experts. All the participants created action plans that are expected to be shared with their boards or executive bodies of the organisations. The resource pack with all the training materials, CoE manuals and detailed information for the EYF, the presentations and the materials as websites of the organisations and their projects, useful links to different institutions and contacts shared by the experts were sent to the participants after the activity. The participants also shared information and media content about the activity on different social platforms.

Main learning outcomes:

  • 100% of the participants indicated they knew the participatory project methodology to a good or to a great extent
  • more than 90% felt they knew how to design a youth participatory project increased knowledge on sustainable agriculture and funding available for youth projects

I think everything was useful for all of us. I am sure that such programs will continue, at least locally. I was most interested in the involvement of young people in youth work, but the other topics were also very useful. Thanks for everything.

participant to the winter camp

Outputs:

Miro Board

The third and final activity included in our work plan on 2020, the international summer camp ”Cultivating youth participation” was carried out in a hybrid format, in February 2021, with participants meeting in national groups or connecting exclusively online. In spite of almost one year of continuous uncertainty, endless online meetings and fluctuating periods of hope and fear, the winter camp was a vibrant activity that brought a concrete and significant finality to the activities planned for 2021.

The hybrid winter camp „Cultivating youth participation” was the third activity included in the our work plan „Rock, paper, participation” which is co-funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe, Renovabis and the European Commission.

The winter camp was organised between 20-23 February 2021, after going through a significant risk of not being organised at all. Luckily the new Board members of MIJARC Europe decided to take the risk of postponing the activity for 2021 and made efforts to encourage our member movements to organise residential national groups or select participants to connect online. Our movements from Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia and Romania organised in person events, while the participanta in Belgium, Germany and Malta connected online. A group of 61 registered participants, representing 7 European countries joined the activity. 43 of them attended the winter camp for its entire duration.

The general aim was to increase participants’ knowledge on how to design, plan and manage participatory projects aimed at increasing the level of participation of their peers in decision-making and in policy development about sustainable agriculture at local level. The main tool was the participatory project methodlogy (PPM) proposed in the “Have your say” Manual. The PPM provided the backbone for designing real, concrete projects addresing at least one of the issues related to youth involvement in agriculture that had previously been identified during the local visits.

Almost 90% of the participants declared in the formal evaluation forms their satisfaction and increased motivation to ecourage the participation of their peers in decision-making and in policy development about sustainable agriculture at the local level. More than 80% of the participants felt that the activity had achieved all three of its major objectives, namely:

81% of the participants shared that they have participated and felt included during the activities. One of the factors that made this possible was the local facilitators’ presence and contribution. Another factor was the work in small groups in a virtual environment and instant feedback given by the team of educators and facilitators.

DAY 1

The first day of the activity started with a session in which the participants had the opportunity to get to know each other and the educational team, as well. The second session of the first day aimed to introduce the work done by MIJARC Europe and its member organisations until the moment and give an overview of the previous activities on the local level. The third session was an introductory session for the topics of Youth participation and the Revised European Charter On The Participation Of Young People In Local And Regional Life. As there were participants with different experience and background on youth work and youth empowerment, the session also aimed to ensure that all of the participants are on the same page and have the same understanding of the key concepts of participation and youth work. The participants were introduced to a couple of definitions of youth participation given in the Charter. After discussing and creating the « working definition », the participants were divided into two small groups and introduced to the six-step-model of using the Charter and the RMSOS approach, also provided in the “Have your say!”  manual of the CoE. The fourth session was dedicated to the Participatory Project Methodology. Besides the questions of the participants, additional value to the session came from the first-hand experience and examples shared by the local facilitators and the educational team.

DAY 2

The first session of the second day introduced the Participatory Project Methodology (PPM) framework in details. The session was build based on the information shared on the “Have your say!” manual and T-Kit 3: Project Management of the CoE. The second session was dedicated to sustainable agriculture and youth empowerment, with Janna Herzig, a young expert, presenting two projects: La Bolina (Spain) and Solawi Köln (Germany). By presenting the projects, the expert emphasised the vital role of youth participation in the management and the CSA model as a positive alternative, too. The following two sessions were dedicated to the work of the national groups on creating project proposals and implementing the aspects of the PPM framework.

DAY 3

The third day started with deeper elaborating on the topic of youth participation in the context of sustainable agriculture. The participants had the possibility to learn more about MIJARC Europe’s best practices, policies developed during the years and fruitful partnerships. Next, the participants used the Kent Mcdonald’s Stakeholder Map graphic method, modified according to the project’s specifics and the session. The session helped the teams get a clear idea of their strengths and weaknesses in implementing future participatory projects and their interactions with different stakeholders. The third and fourth sessions were dedicated to sharing expertise and creating project proposals in national group work with the support of an external expert from KLJB Germany. At the end of the third day was the International evening of MIJARC Europe. The virtual cultural event was facilitated in an interactive and fun way by the facilitators. The national groups had to present 10 unknown fun facts about their countries and play their favourite song. At the end of every presentation, there was a time for questions and answers, so the participants could understand more about each country’s culture and traditions.

”It was a nice project! The hybrid method is really challenging and it’s not easy organizing such activity so all of your efforts are very appreciated 🙂 You did a really nice job after all and I’m looking forward to the next projects!!! Love you guys”

participant to the Winter Camp

DAY 4

The winter camp’s last day started with presenting the national groups’ projects proposals. Each group presented their proposals and received feedback with some ideas for implementation. Most of the groups had successfully applied the PPM framework and addressed the issues related to sustainable agriculture that could be beneficial for their societies. The following session was dedicated to a presentation on applying for grant opportunities and finance their project proposals. That session helped the participants increase their knowledge of the actual funding opportunities they can use to finance their project ideas, better understand fundraising at the European level, and be more confident in finding the resources for implementing their projects. The Winter camp ended with an evaluation and planning future steps session. The planning activity aimed to encourage the participants to foresee some possible deadlines, make a calendar with activities, and be more engaged with the two main topics of the Winter camp – Participatory Project Management and Sustainable agriculture.

The main outputs of the hybrid seminar are seven project proposals tackling the problems identified during the local visits and discussed during the Winter camp, including the examples of the experts. All the participants created action plans that are expected to be shared with their boards or executive bodies of the organisations. The resource pack with all the training materials, CoE manuals and detailed information for the EYF, the presentations and the materials as websites of the organisations and their projects, useful links to different institutions and contacts shared by the experts were sent to the participants after the activity. The participants also shared information and media content about the activity on different social platforms.

Main learning outcomes:

  • 100% of the participants indicated they knew the participatory project methodology to a good or to a great extent
  • more than 90% felt they knew how to design a youth participatory project increased knowledge on sustainable agriculture and funding available for youth projects

I think everything was useful for all of us. I am sure that such programs will continue, at least locally. I was most interested in the involvement of young people in youth work, but the other topics were also very useful. Thanks for everything.

participant to the winter camp

Outputs:

Miro Board

Our second international activity of the year was carried out in a hybrid format with participants meeting in national groups or connecting exclusively online to create a diverse, joyful and motivated group of young people who managed to learn from and inspire each other despite the global pandemic.

”The topic is really actual. We have so many things to do to find right solutions. There are really a lot of similar problems connected to agriculture all over the world.”

– participant to the seminar

The hybrid seminar and youth lab „Youth Participating by a hectare” was the second activity included in the our work plan „Rock, paper, participation” which is co-funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe, and the first international youth lab of the #OurFoodOurFuture project, co-funded by the European Commission and Renovabis.

The seminar and youth lab took place between 3-6 December 2020, after it had been postponed from July to September and then postponed again to the end of the year, when the restrictions imposed by the pandemic across Europe, allowed some of the participating counties to organise face to face meetings. In Armenia, Bulgaria and Georgia our local movements were able to meet in national groups for 4 days and connected with their peers from Belgium, Germany, France, Malta and Romania via Zoom. A group of 44 registered participants, representing 8 European countries joined the activity. 37 of them attended the seminar and youth lab for its entire duration.

The general aim was for participants and their organisations to leave the seminar with concrete measures and practices that they could use in order to increase the extent to which young people get involved in agricultural policies at local level. It also focused on a transformation at individual level, as participants were expected to enter the activity as mere consumers and leave as informed people who know the problems and know where to act to contribute to change them.

With the help of many online tools such as Miro, Mentimeter, Genial.ly, Canva and a lot of creativity, the team of facilitators managed to create an effective hybrid educational activity that increased the participants’ knowledge on sustainable agriculture, its processes and activities (35 out of 37 participants) and on the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life (30 participants).

The most useful thing I learnt was how to use the Charter to engage youth in agricultural policies.

participant to the seminar

The activity started with a warm-up evening during which get-to-know-each-other games, exercises and songs brightened the atmosphere and gave a nice introduction on how the hybrid seminar would be led. The facilitators explained the ground rules, helped the participants who had technical difficulties, clarified their roles and tested all the tools that would be used throughout the seminar. The group was happy to welcome Margit Barna from the European Youth Foundation who played a fun quiz about the EYF and the Council of Europe.

On the second day the participants were introduced into the topic of youth participation, food production and agriculture and started their day with a visit to a virtual museum where the priorities identified in each country during the local visits, within the first phase of the work plan, were displayed. Starting from there the participants went on to mapping the realities in their countries guided by questions such as:

  1. What are the main agricultural productions in your country? Give 3 examples.
  2. Point out 3 biggest problems in agriculture caused by climate change in your country and explain how the governments try to solve those problems. 
  3. What is the role of women and young people in agriculture?

The day ended with an offline guided tour and national work groups in which the participants started writing down priorities in their countries and formulating them as objectives in the National Action Plan template prepared by the team of facilitators on Miro. Last but not least, the evening programme took the participants through an escape room where they had to crack a code by working as a team and performing multiple challenges: such as calming a crying baby, playing memory games, signing songs and impressing a mad clown.

The third day was dedicated to three practical workshops on: soil, animal walfare and water and land grabbing. Each workshop was led either by one of the trainers or a guest speaker and oferred specific information, examples and reflection exercises on each of three topics. The day ended with a participatory workshop during which the participants summarised each topic in a mind map. Then the facilitators conducted a virtual world cafe in order to allow participants to discuss connections among the three workshop topics and a collection of European best practices.

Water talks to me, I speak for water. I didn’t get support and I was called crazy, but I never gave up. What I can always do is to continue with my determination and do whater is possible, whatever you are good at.

Ranjan Panda

The fourth and final day relied on emotions, engagement and inspiration to continue the work and take the results of the hybrid seminar a step further. A spiritual impulse created the perfect start for an imaginative exercise that took participants into the future and invited them to reflect about the seminar. Next, the participants had to prepare a 30-second elevator-pitch to deliver to the Commissioner for Agriculture, whom the meet by chance while taking the elevator to the MIJARc Europe office. Want to see or hear what our participants had to say? Here are their recordings: elevator pitches.

The main outputs of the hybrid seminar are the eight national action plans, focusing on increasing youth participation in agricultural policies and tackling the most stringent needs related to agriculture that the participants identified in their countries. The action plans are the basis for the development of the project proposal during the next international activity – the winter camp “Cultivating youth participation’.

Main learning outcomes:

  • increased knowledge on the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People at local and regional level
  • increased awareness on the situation of women in agriculture
  • almost 90% of the participants declared that they knew more about sustainable agriculture, food supply chains and about agriculture in the other participant countries as a consequence of having attended the seminar

“I want to discover what offline MIJARC is! I want to travel outside my country to meet you! Online MIJARC seminar was the best you could have done considering the circumstances, big up for the organisation team!

participant to the seminar

Outputs:

Miro Board

Our second international activity of the year was carried out in a hybrid format with participants meeting in national groups or connecting exclusively online to create a diverse, joyful and motivated group of young people who managed to learn from and inspire each other despite the global pandemic.

”The topic is really actual. We have so many things to do to find right solutions. There are really a lot of similar problems connected to agriculture all over the world.”

– participant to the seminar

The hybrid seminar and youth lab „Youth Participating by a hectare” was the second activity included in the our work plan „Rock, paper, participation” which is co-funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe, and the first international youth lab of the #OurFoodOurFuture project, co-funded by the European Commission and Renovabis.

The seminar and youth lab took place between 3-6 December 2020, after it had been postponed from July to September and then postponed again to the end of the year, when the restrictions imposed by the pandemic across Europe, allowed some of the participating counties to organise face to face meetings. In Armenia, Bulgaria and Georgia our local movements were able to meet in national groups for 4 days and connected with their peers from Belgium, Germany, France, Malta and Romania via Zoom. A group of 44 registered participants, representing 8 European countries joined the activity. 37 of them attended the seminar and youth lab for its entire duration.

The general aim was for participants and their organisations to leave the seminar with concrete measures and practices that they could use in order to increase the extent to which young people get involved in agricultural policies at local level. It also focused on a transformation at individual level, as participants were expected to enter the activity as mere consumers and leave as informed people who know the problems and know where to act to contribute to change them.

With the help of many online tools such as Miro, Mentimeter, Genial.ly, Canva and a lot of creativity, the team of facilitators managed to create an effective hybrid educational activity that increased the participants’ knowledge on sustainable agriculture, its processes and activities (35 out of 37 participants) and on the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life (30 participants).

The most useful thing I learnt was how to use the Charter to engage youth in agricultural policies.

participant to the seminar

The activity started with a warm-up evening during which get-to-know-each-other games, exercises and songs brightened the atmosphere and gave a nice introduction on how the hybrid seminar would be led. The facilitators explained the ground rules, helped the participants who had technical difficulties, clarified their roles and tested all the tools that would be used throughout the seminar. The group was happy to welcome Margit Barna from the European Youth Foundation who played a fun quiz about the EYF and the Council of Europe.

On the second day the participants were introduced into the topic of youth participation, food production and agriculture and started their day with a visit to a virtual museum where the priorities identified in each country during the local visits, within the first phase of the work plan, were displayed. Starting from there the participants went on to mapping the realities in their countries guided by questions such as:

  1. What are the main agricultural productions in your country? Give 3 examples.
  2. Point out 3 biggest problems in agriculture caused by climate change in your country and explain how the governments try to solve those problems. 
  3. What is the role of women and young people in agriculture?

The day ended with an offline guided tour and national work groups in which the participants started writing down priorities in their countries and formulating them as objectives in the National Action Plan template prepared by the team of facilitators on Miro. Last but not least, the evening programme took the participants through an escape room where they had to crack a code by working as a team and performing multiple challenges: such as calming a crying baby, playing memory games, signing songs and impressing a mad clown.

The third day was dedicated to three practical workshops on: soil, animal walfare and water and land grabbing. Each workshop was led either by one of the trainers or a guest speaker and oferred specific information, examples and reflection exercises on each of three topics. The day ended with a participatory workshop during which the participants summarised each topic in a mind map. Then the facilitators conducted a virtual world cafe in order to allow participants to discuss connections among the three workshop topics and a collection of European best practices.

Water talks to me, I speak for water. I didn’t get support and I was called crazy, but I never gave up. What I can always do is to continue with my determination and do whater is possible, whatever you are good at.

Ranjan Panda

The fourth and final day relied on emotions, engagement and inspiration to continue the work and take the results of the hybrid seminar a step further. A spiritual impulse created the perfect start for an imaginative exercise that took participants into the future and invited them to reflect about the seminar. Next, the participants had to prepare a 30-second elevator-pitch to deliver to the Commissioner for Agriculture, whom the meet by chance while taking the elevator to the MIJARc Europe office. Want to see or hear what our participants had to say? Here are their recordings: elevator pitches.

The main outputs of the hybrid seminar are the eight national action plans, focusing on increasing youth participation in agricultural policies and tackling the most stringent needs related to agriculture that the participants identified in their countries. The action plans are the basis for the development of the project proposal during the next international activity – the winter camp “Cultivating youth participation’.

Main learning outcomes:

  • increased knowledge on the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People at local and regional level
  • increased awareness on the situation of women in agriculture
  • almost 90% of the participants declared that they knew more about sustainable agriculture, food supply chains and about agriculture in the other participant countries as a consequence of having attended the seminar

“I want to discover what offline MIJARC is! I want to travel outside my country to meet you! Online MIJARC seminar was the best you could have done considering the circumstances, big up for the organisation team!

participant to the seminar

Outputs:

Miro Board


On 7th March 2020, our member organisation Federation of Youth Clubs of Armenia (FYCA), organised the first local visit planned within the activities of MIJARC Europe’s annual work plan “Rock, Paper, Participation“. The work plan focuses on seeing-judging-acting on how young people get involved in the dialogue on agricultural policies and on how they take part to sustainable agricultural practices.

The Rock, paper, participation” annual work plan is co-funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe and the European Union.

FYCA took the young participants to visit several agricultural farms in Nor Geghi (Kotayk province), Armenia.

The visits started with several meetings with local youth representatives and local & regional authorities. At first, the attendees discussed the current situation and existing challenges facing the youth in the region and explored the facts and issues raised by the study on youth involvement in agriculture done by MIJARC Europe.

Later, it was time to start the meetings with the farmers located in the region. The local visit to several agricultural farms in Armenia gathered 25 young volunteers and members from the organization, and also representatives from local and regional authorities from Kotayk province, Armenia.

Prior to the visit, the organization contacted the provincial administration representatives of Kotayk region through FYCA regional coordinator, Mari Hovakimyan. The visit was co-organized by the head of Nor Geghi community, Vardan Papyan and his administrative team.

The field visit started from “Green” intensive apple orchards, where farmers’ staff presented the basics of the fruit cultivation. The participants explored all the stages of producing apples: starting from the basic steps of orchard establishment and development to packing the ready-steady fruits for consumption. The apple orchards have been established in Nor Geghi community in 2016 and currently cover nearly 30 hectares, with the goal of expanding the area by 20 hectares in the nearest future. In addition to apple trees, pear, plum and cherry trees will also be planted there.

It is also interesting to know that the intensive orchards are harvested earlier than traditional orchards. In case of intensive orchards, up to ten times more seedlings are planted on 1 hectare of land. The farm grows a huge variety of apples and each of them is different in its own way.

Having explored the techniques and logistics of the production, it was time to carry out the second visit in the region. The next farm was a fishpond, belonging to “Ninel” LLC and providing employment opportunities to locals.

Afterwards, the team headed to the third well-known farm, “Lusakert” poultry factory. During the visit, the team got acquainted with the bird breeding conditions and technical equipment of the cultivation. As the factory staff informed, the chickens are kept in exclusively natural and ecological conditions, thus providing ecologically pure and nutritious products.

Revised Charter

The information gained during the visits were later on used to discuss about how young people could get involved in agricultural policies and firstly if they should get involved. The participants explored the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life (the Charter) and its six step implementation model. The participants came to the conclusion that agricultural development is crucially important for developing rural areas. Hence, the strategies and policies promoting the development of rural areas are considered to be a high priority in the country.

In order to reach sustainable agricultural development, it is necessary to provide rural youth with sufficient access to knowledge and information, through incorporating agricultural skills in the education.
According to the discussions, it became obvious that youth’s involvement in policy dialogue is still an existing challenge in the country. Thus, young people need to have access to integrated trainings in agricultural sector and get coherent response from policy-makers and development practitioners so as to overcome those challenges.


Overall, the following conclusion was drawn in result of the local visit: agricultural development is an extremely important asset for fostering sustainable development of rural communities’ livelihood and increasing the standards of living in those areas.

 

”Let our voice be heard” – an annual work plan co-funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe and the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.


001

Between 2018 and 2021 MIJARC Europe is leading its work around three thematic focus points described in the Specific Objectives adopted by the General Assembly back in 2017. The work plan we run in 2019 addressed MIJARC Europe’s commitment to support citizenship and youth participation in rural development.

Through the work plan we run in 2019 we aimed to help rural young people in MIJARC Europe network and beyond feel that they have the right, the means and the skills to drive change at local level and to motive other stakeholders to support their ideas and create opportunities for youth participation together.

We wanted young people to feel that they know, they can, and they want to be involved, to be able to imagine the concrete, sequential steps towards achieving real impact and to identify how to determine local authorities to join their initiatives in order to see those changes they envision, happen in reality.

This aim was pursued through the following specific objectives:

O1: enable young people from rural areas to discriminate between self-imposed barriers to participation (their own perceptions, stereotypes and attitudes) and real barriers and find inspiration to identify solutions to both types of barriers;

O2: teach young people how to communicate with, involve and ask for support from local authorities and perceive them as partners rather than opponents;

O3: empower young people from rural areas to become competent and effective digital citizens;

O4: contribute to the implementation of the principles of the Revised Charter on participation of young people in local and regional life and to the dissemination of the “Have your say manual” to local public authorities and youth NGOs in at least 10 rural areas in Europe.

PHASES

The work plan included one local activity and two international activities, reinforced by follow- up activities at local level.

From February to April 2019, MIJARC Europe organized focus groups, called “local visits” in 9 different countries in Europe. Small groups of 10 to 20 people aged from 12 to 22 years old came together, sometimes also with representatives of local authorities, to discuss the topic of youth participation.

Questions like “what does youth participation mean?”, “what kind of youth participation does take place?”, “does real participation take place?”, “how young people are involved, do they have a real chance to participate and co-decide?” have been deeply discussed with the help of the manual “Have your Say”. The manual Have your Say is a tool of the Council of Europe for young people and local authorities to implement and use the Charter on youth participation in the local and regional life. The findings of the local visits were included in a report and illustrated in country fact sheets. The results of this small scale research were at the basis of the next two phases.

Report on the state of youth participation – local visits

Info graphics – country fact sheets

The second activity was an international seminar, which gathered 40 young people, for four full working days.  It had the role to bridge the results of the fieldwork done by MIJARC Europe during the local visits with the theoretical and practical aspects of the participation at local, national, regional and European lever by involving active members in a proactive learning process.

The seminar was designed and led based on the methods of non-formal education and relevant approaches using the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in local and regional life and the “Have your say” Manual. The successful implementation of the seminar resulted in a magazine of personal stories of participation written and drawn by the participants, the creation of vlogs and of three infographics.  The final evaluation results show that the seminar scored high in the hearts and minds of the participants. The percentage of those who believe that they got the basic theory, practical approaches and tools, to help them to build a culture of participation after the seminar is about 92%.

Digital magazine “My story of participation” 

Vlogs – https://www.youtube.com/user/MIJARCEurope/videos

Info-graphics 

 

The seminar was complemented by the third phase, an international training course on e- citizenship that offered additional tools and ideas to tackle the problems identified in the first phase. The training course aimed to bring the participants closer to e-participation. The participants were encouraged to build their own positions for different topics related to participation and e-participation and they had a possibility to present and discuss in a safe learning environment.

They had a possibility to address their comments and questions to Dirk Van Eeckhout, the Thematic Coordinator on Information Policy in the Council of Europe and Rita Jonusaite, part of the secretariat of the YFJ. That was a highly valuable experience that helped the participants to meet stakeholders, gain self-confidence and resilience breaking the present barriers. The participants worked together in intercultural subgroups in order to solve practical case studies through the e-participation tools they have discovered.

 

The most impressive result of the training course was the set up of an online campaign “Every Breath we take” the participants used to raise awareness on the fires in the Amazon and climate injustice. The campaign worked as a Facebook challenge in which young people were challenged to take a photo of themselves with their eyes closed, taking a deep breath along with the written message: “Our common home is on fire. The Amazon is burning. We cannot hold our breath until you finally take action. We need to act NOW!”. It also included four calls to action and messages inspired by the position papers of MIJARC Europe such as: “We demand national governments to take concrete actions to meet their commitments to the Paris agreement”. The campaign gathered more than 100 people who took a photo of themselves, posted the photo along with the message on their Facebook profile and challenged their friends

Every breath we take campaign

Training booklet on e-participation

Finally, each organization involved did a follow-up activity of their choice, involving a minimum number of 10 participants. The full list of follow-up activities can be seen here.

Follow-up activity in Bulgaria

Follow-up activity in Germany

Follow-up activity in Romania

The results of the work plan were also presented and promoted in our biannual magazine: MIJARC Explore.