Democracy and participation, Civic education

YOUth Can Make a Change

Youth Civic Participation Project

Creators

Who is behind this?

Gregor Oprčkal

Aequator Institute, Institute for Active Citizenship

http://www.aequator-institute.com/

Slovenia

Who is joining forces?

Centre for Training, Work and Shelter, Dobrna

https://centerdobrna.si

Slovenia


Nina Pokorn’s House, Nursing Home for Adults with Special Needs, Žalec

http://www.dnpg.si/si/

Slovenia


Lambrecht’s House, Nursing Home for the Elderly, Slovenske Konjice

https://www.lambrechtov-dom.si/

Slovenia


Each of the 5 challenges that will tackle 5 most pressuring local issues will be carried out in cooperation with local and national organizations dealing with the issue concerned.

Idea

Idea pitch

Active citizenship has a vital role in building and maintaining a democratic society. Whereas a lack of interest and knowledge are predominant reasons for political apathy, fear and group closure can lead to different forms of extremism. A rise of concern, which is a prerequisite for individuals to act, is caused by awareness. Our idea is to activate youth through 5 challenges that will spread the knowledge about highly polarising local issues and show youth how their actions can make a change.

Where will your project idea take place?

Celje, Savinjska Region, northeast Slovenia

What is the local challenge?

Our main challenge is the political and civic apathy of young people in the Savinjska region. In 2019, only 15.3% of regional voters aged between 18 and 30 years participated in the EU elections (EU average: 50.66%). The region is also far below the average in the number of voluntary hours in civic organizations. To encourage active citizenship, our project faces high school students with the most polarising local issues:
1) inclusion of foreigners: xenophobia has recently led to open conflicts with ethnic minorities;
2) inclusion of elderly people: as the region is agriculturally oriented, the majority of elderly people are digitally illiterate;
3) inclusion of people with specific needs;
4) the (ir)relevance of EU;
5) the environment: the highest level of pollution in the country.

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

Our idea is to get youth involved in the local community through 5 challenges. According to the intergroup contact theory, interpersonal contact is one of the most effective means of reducing prejudice between community members. If one has the opportunity to interact with others, one is able to comprehend opposing views. Thus, our idea embodies the »3C Concept«, through which high school students from rural areas will be faced with polarizing topics (Confrontation), the affected stakeholders (Contact), and finally will actively cooperate with local organizations dealing with these issues (Cooperation). In addition to promoting active citizenship and building power within, our model further strengthens democracy by allying organizations and affected stakeholders in pursuit of a mutual goal.

Who are you doing it for?

Our main target group is high school students. We initially target those who might exclude, rather than those who are excluded. By offering high prizes we ensure that even those who do not have a high level of compassion for vulnerable groups will participate. To increase diversity among competing teams, different genders have to be represented.
Our secondary beneficiaries are:
1) members of vulnerable groups: participants will work with them within the 5-challenge framework;
2) people from organizations dealing with specific issues;
3) general public that will be addressed through social media where we will post contributions of competing teams, and through local media.
To truly present opposing positions, the members of the national debate association will debate on the issues.

How do you plan to get there?

In partnership with local organizations, we will organize a 6-month high school student competition consisting of 5 challenges covering the most pressing local topics. Each challenge will involve 3 phases:
- Confrontation: lectures, workshops, organized debates on particular issues held by experts in the field
- Contact: meeting the members of the vulnerable groups/other stakeholders
- Cooperation: assignments in cooperation with the stakeholders (e.g. voluntary work, blog posts, etc.)

1) Establishment of networks (schools, local organizations)
2) Project organization & marketing campaign
3) Team applications & selection
4) Competition & interaction with the general public
5) Selection of 5 winning teams & giving the prizes
6) Final public event
7) Project evaluation

What are the expected results?

1) Goal: 50 participating teams. As a result, 150 students will be familiarized with 5 highly pressing local issues and the affected stakeholders. Most importantly, they will be shown how they can get involved. Ideally, participants would stay active in the organizations (goal: 20 students).

2) Establishment of networks of local organizations pursuing the same aim and linking them with centralized/national organizations (goal: 5 organizations/topic).

3) Successfully completed individual tasks (e.g. teaching 100 elderl how to use social media), results will be measured after each challenge (e.g. number of elderly taught, before/after test/ hours of voluntary work).

4) Reaching people (goal: 50,000) through established media platforms, where different views can be expressed.

How does your initiative contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe?

The implementation of the project in itself represents the realization and promotion of the most important European values (exchange of different views, tolerance, and acceptance of others, sustainable development, combating social exclusion and discrimination, etc.). Furthermore, the local issues addressed by our project are also pressing at the EU level. By spreading the knowledge and getting youth involved we are fighting their apathy as well as potential fears that might lead to different forms of extremism, that have emerged all over the EU. Active citizens are a prerequisite for building and maintaining healthy democracies, especially in young democracies like Slovenia. Finally, 150 young active citizens in the Savinjska region, also means 150 active Europeans.

What is your story?

Although our team is diverse, we are united in our desire to bring people closer. The ubiquitous division of views in Slovenia mostly originates in the attitude towards the post-second-war period. Especially in rural places, decisions are still based on whether (grand)parents support(ed) the previous communist regime or its antipode (the church), rather on the information about the issue. Besides, more and more young people are convinced that they cannot make a meaningful change with their actions, and are no longer interested in issues concerning their community. We believe that if young people are properly addressed, they can exceed historical divisions. That the issues can be discussed in a civilized way. And that youth can make a change.

€ 50000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

€ 50000,-

Total budget

Major expenses

- Project Team (communication, coordination, organization of the events, submission assessment): 21.500,00 €
- Prize found (VAT incl.): 10.000€
- Marketing: 2.500€
- Broadcasting: 3.500€
- Event organization (rents, guest lecturers, materials): 7.000€
- Web page Expenses: 500€
- Travel costs: 3000€
- Office expenses: 500€
- Accounting service: 1000€
- Documentation: 500€

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would like to hear how your organizations tackle the problem of political and civic apathy of youth, and of the topics covered by our challenges (integration of elderly, foreigners, people with special needs, etc.). What are your comments on our idea?

Team

Aequator Institute

Gregor Oprčkal

teja.pirnat

Idea created on May 27, 2020
Last edit on June 11, 2020

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