Environment and sustainability, Youth participation and empowerment

Trails of Participation-Sentieri di Partecipazione shortlist

Fostering youth participation and community dialogue across villages through community action to preserve the woods and forest trails.


Who is behind this?

Paola Beltrami

Associazione DragoLago



Who is joining forces?

Ente di Gestione delle Aree Protette del Ticino e del Lago Maggiore



Radio 6+



Istituto Comprensivo Statale del Vergante



The following municipalities of the following villages have already officially expressed their support to the project: Gozzano, Ameno, Invorio, Orta.


Idea pitch

Depopulation, lack of opportunities for youth, isolation and neglected commons are all challenges faced by the 7 villages involved in our project. We want to revive our communities, reconnect them and mobilize them for the preservation of one of their most neglected andvaluable assets: the forest and its dense network of trails which has connected our villages for centuries. We believe young people should lead this process, through civic participation, dialogue and community organizing.

Where will your project idea take place?

Orta, Miasino, Armeno, Gozzano, Ameno, Invorio and Bolzano Novarese, in North-West of Italy.

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

Our challenges are the lack of opportunities for youth participation in public life and the lack of accountability and care for community commons, in particular the forest trails’ network. The project area is part of the “Ticino Val Grande Verbano” Biosphere Reserve but the woods and the forest trails are neglected. Local communities are little aware even of being part of the Reserve and lack skills to organize for the preservation and local authorities’ accountability. Local youth have demonstrated interest and will to get active in their communities through civic action. We have accompanied many groups of teenagers in activities to preserve the local nature and heritage. However, these activities are mainly limited to the school time and are not available for older teenagers (14-18).

Who are you doing it for?

At least 80 girls and boys aged 11-14 and 20 youth aged 15-18 will be directly supported. Indirectly, the action aims at inspiring all the 1270 teenagers living in the area to become active in their communities. At least 8 teachers in 4 schools will also be involved. The initiative’s activities will mobilize at least 1,000 people across the 7 municipalities, from kids to elderlies through community events. Local public administrators of at least 7 municipalities will also be engaged as well as other local stakeholders such as farmers living in proximity of the forest trails, local small enterprises and local actors that play a role in the forest protection. Gender and diversity balance will be ensured in all activities.

How do you plan to get there?

>>4 Workshops on sustainability and community-based preservation of commons will be conducted for the CCRs (11-14 years old) in partnership with local secondary schools. The CCRs will also meet to get to know each other and identify topics for common work.
>>A Community Activation Lab will be organized for 20 youth (15-18) from all the municipalities. This group will also conduct a consultation with local youth to design a proposal for youth inclusion in local policy making (ex. inter-municipal Youth Council), which will be presented to local administrations.
>>Raising community awareness on the forest trails. The CCRs’ teenagers will create a map of problems of the trails, through active exploration. Problems identified will then be presented and discussed with local communities through community dialogues/campaigns facilitated by the older youth
>>A Forest Community Action Week will be organized to get all the community (including local administrators and refugees hosted locally) to explore the forest trails, understand their beauty and to gather ideas on how to maintain the forest trails through community involvement (ex. putting signals, how to report problems, etc.) A proposal will be drafted and publicly presented.
Local national and international tourists will be also involved through 2 walks organized by the youth in order to sensitize and raise their awareness.

What are the expected results?

Through the initiative, at least 100 teenagers and youth will have led an intensive experience of community engagement and mobilization,gaining practical skills on dialogue facilitation and community action. These skills will remain and can be used to tackle other community problems. We expect that the whole community will be much more aware and determined to contribute to preserve the forest and its trails. The local existing mechanisms for youth participation (CCRs)will be strengthened as they will be connected across municipalities. Teachers will also improve their skills on civic education. A community-based preservation mechanism for the forest trail will be co-designed and social cohesion will be reinforced. Local administrators will also be held accountable and will be more engaged.

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

All project activities will be mainly led by local teenagers and youth through the existing Teenagers Youth Councils (11-14 years old) and a group of older teenagers (15-18) who will be also tasked to co-design a proposal to improve youth inclusion in local policy making. Community members will be involved in dialogue activities where they will be encouraged to constantly express their opinions and views. Civic education is an important component of the project; at least 4 workshops will be organized on sustainable local development and community-based preservation, to make teenagers aware of the active role citizens can play in protecting local heritage and nature. Through a Community Activation Lab older teenagers will also receive practical training to directly engage with communities.

Why is this idea important to you?

Paola Giroldini, 50, co-founder of DragoLago. She has been working with local youth for over 10 years on civic, environmental and peace education.
Paola Beltrami, 33, has a background in international cooperation, mediation, social entrepreneurship and citizen activism
Silvia Terzera, 23, is graduated in Tourism and Local Community Development, with a focus on community resources' sustainable management
Olga Lilia Espinosa Arias, is Mexican but has been living in the area for over 30 years. She is an Art Therapist and expert on Intercultural communication. She has organized many community workshops on these topics
Erica Bussandri, 22, is also expert in Art Therapy and currently works to support women victims of human trafficking
All the team members have a deep knowledge of the area

€ 35690,-

Total budget

€ 31890,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Facilitators and Coordination costs : 14.400 € (2.400 € by Gozzano Municipality)
Transportation Costs for Participants: 1.700 €
Environmental Expert & Educator/Trainers: 4.740 €
Graphic Design & Video Making: 2.000 €
Stationery & Materials: 250 €
Community Facilitators Kits: 600 €
Digital Subscriptions: 300 €
Community Activation Lab - activities: 2300 €
Forest Community Action Week - activities: 3.800 €
Radio costs: 400 €
Insurance: 1.400 € (400 € DragoLago)

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would love to receive feedback on how we can make this initiative even more sustainable. We would also like to think of ways to involve more international tourists and temporary inhabitants in our project, because they are an important component of our area’s socio-economic life.




Idea created on April 17, 2021
Last edit on April 26, 2021

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