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Debate Space | Civic Europe
Social inclusion, Youth participation and empowerment

Debate Space

Empowering young people from disadvantaged backgrounds through debate clubs in community spaces.


Who is behind this?

Orsolya Lencse-Csík

Demokratikus Ifjúságért Alapítvány (DIA)


Who is joining forces?

Igazgyöngy Alapítvány Toldi Tanoda


Motiváció Oktatási Egyesület


Konkáv Közösségi Tér



Idea pitch

We will empower workers of community spaces in the capital and in the countryside to run and organise debate clubs through a series of workshops in team building, debate and our debate game "VoxPop''. The aim of these clubs is to empower students from disadvantaged backgrounds to take part in their local communities, improve their social skills and attitudes which will contribute to them becoming active citizens. They will focus on identifying local problems and coming up with solutions to them.

Where will your project idea take place?

Budapest, central Hungary; Szeged, South Hungary; Told, East Hungary.

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

Students from disadvantaged backgrounds have fewer means and opportunities for interest representation or to discuss local problems and design solutions to them than their privileged peers. The education system is not able to close the gap and offers very few opportunities for developing interest representation skills. Our project, realised with community spaces offers an opportunity to foster interest representation and debate skills through a series of trainings is debate and team building. We aim to build a network of debate clubs between community spaces which will offer a platform for students in the city and in the countryside to exchange ideas. In the long run the project can also contribute to their strengthened civic activism, self-efficacy and interest representation.

Who are you doing it for?

Our main target group is students from disadvantaged backgrounds whom we aim to empower with interest representation skills through learning about and actively using debate. We plan to reach them through community spaces who have thorough knowledge about local peculiarities and the problems these communities and students face. We have long-standing professional relations with them and organised community debate events together. Their insights are invaluable for the successful implementation of the project and will guarantee that debate clubs focus on local needs. In the project we will work closely together with associates of community spaces (leaders, teachers, mentors) and about 100 students from disadvantaged backgrounds (10+ ages) who visit these centres.

How do you plan to get there?

Kick-off: 4 online workshops in team building, debate culture, VoxPop debate game and the management of debate clubs, min. 3 organisations.
Organising local debate clubs: community spaces organise debate clubs to identify and discuss local problems, at least twice a month.
Running/managing debate clubs: the aim of debate clubs is to encourage and help young people discover local problems and debate about them. This will include team building, self- and team-awareness programs, and that students get to know the basics of community debate and actively use our VoxPop debate game to discuss dilemmas. Their interest representation will be strengthened if they come up with strategies to resolve the problems, and to discuss them with decision-makers.
Mentoring: we will provide monthly mentoring sessions for the associates of community spaces to share experiences. We also plant to invite experts to these sessions if needed.
Visits: we will visit each partner at least once to organise a debate event together with the workers of community spaces.
Debate day: in an open debate day in the capital city participants will come together to discuss their experiences and exchange ideas.
Summer camp: together with the associates of community spaces and young people, we will organise a summer camp based on design thinking methods focusing on developing strategies to solve local problems.

What are the expected results?

By the end of the project, associates of community spaces will be able to manage debate clubs, know and actively use debate and make use of the VoxPop debate game. The students involved will have become more sensible to community problems, their active citizenship will have improved, they will have become more critical and able to voice their opinions. Their social skills will also have improved thanks to mentoring (cooperation, communication, critical thinking, self- and group awareness). Community debate clubs will have reached decision-makers and will have started developing plans and strategies to resolve local problems. Seeing the positive impact of debate clubs, new participants will implement similar projects thus a national network of debate clubs will be in the making.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

We will enable the workers of community spaces to manage and organise debate clubs. Through the process they will acquire knowledge about debate which will be used for working together with local communities and young people. The trainings will help young people get to know themselves and their peers and will provide a safe space to work together as a team. Through identifying local problems, they will develop an interest in solving them thus their willingness to participate will grow. The opportunity to discuss the issues with decision-makers will also increase their self-efficacy. Debate training about debate formulas and techniques and the VoxPop debate game will provide them the means to consciously represent their interest, discuss local issues and develop strategies to solve them.

Why is this idea important to you?

DIA has been working on the democratic skill development of young people for more than 20 years mostly through debate culture development. We have realised several debate programs, organised debate competitions and initiated debate clubs in schools. Our handbook, “Gondolkodjunk 3D-ben” is about the foundations of community debate in Hungary. In 2017, our decades-long experience culminated in VoxPop debate game. We have been working together with the target group for 8 years, e.g. in the DeMo project where we mentored NGOs working with children in extreme poverty. Community spaces will contribute to the success of the project with their local knowledge while we will provide our professional experience in debate and mentoring.

€ 35000,-

Total budget

€ 35000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Personnel costs 10 800 EUR; Fee of external experts, trainers, mentors 10 286 EUR; Travel and accommodation costs 6 106 EUR; Food 4 571 EUR; Utensils and other services 3 237 EUR; In sum: 35 000 EUR

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

First and foremost we would welcome criticism from those who had worked on similar initiatives (community building, debate clubs, youth activism) and what they think would be the main challenges and risks we should pay attention to when carrying out the project. But we are open to any comments.



Reka Heszterenyi


Idea created on April 26, 2021

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