“Varna - European Youth Capital” Association successfully participated in the project “Be Active Shape Europe” financed under the "Europe for Citizens" programme by the European Commission. The project corresponds to the following EU Priorities:
Foster European citizenship and to improve conditions for civic and democratic participation at Union level
Raise of awareness of Union’s values and promote the well-being of EU Citizens by stimulating debate, reflection and development of networks
Encourage democratic and civic participation of citizens at Union level, by developing citizens’ understanding of the Union policy making-process and promoting opportunities for societal and intercultural engagement and volunteering at Union level.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
The “BASE” project was implemented simultaneously in 6 countries - Greece, Italy, Portugal, The United Kingdom, Slovenia and Bulgaria. The duration of the project was 30 months and consisted of national structured dialogue activities and national workshops.
The main objective of the project was to enhance young citizens’ participation so they can contribute to society and political life and was aiming to also increase youth participation in the 2019 European Elections through the implementation of structured discussion between youth with decision-makers.
Moreover, the aim was to bring municipalities in Europe together and to offer a platform for exchange and mutual learning on the topic of youth work.
Each partner organized a structured dialogue event with young people, civil society, Local Authorities and stakeholders about the European Union. The National workshops were organized in order to create a Guide on problematic and proposals for the support of democratic engagement, direct democracy and youth engagement.
Also, under the project were organized Transnational Conferences aiming to activate participation of young people based on the principles of non-formal education as they learned how to meet, accept, share their ideas, to show an interest in cooperation and communication with citizens from other European countries. The final event under the agenda of the project was organized in Thessaloniki - Transnational Workshop. All of the organized activities during the implementation of the projects were developed to contribute to the re-creation of trust in the spirit of the European Union and to the engagement of the youth in political life for the long-term.
VARNA IN THE PROJECT
As part of the project agenda, in Varna, Bulgaria were organized Structured dialogue and National workshop.
The structured dialogue with young people, civil society, Local Authorities and stakeholders about the European Union was held in Varna, Bulgaria.
A meeting between youngsters and specialists developing and applying policies related to the young people took place in Varna on 14 of July 2019.
Young people from the age of sixteen to thirty attended the event, including workers, students, doctorates. They had the opportunity to exchange information, opinions and ideas with Mrs. Radka Todorova, Head of The Youth Activities Department of The Education and Youth Activities Directorate of Varna Municipality and Mr. Martin Baychev a second term Municipal Councilor and Chairman of the Standing Committee “Youth Activities and Sports at The Varna City Council.
Moderator of the discussion was Sergey Petrov-Executive Director of Varna-EYC reminded the participants that the purpose of this format is to overcome the distance between young people and decision-makers, which seems to exist in our minds and to gain a fulfilled dialogue between equal partners.
Martin Baychev noted how important it is to him as a chairman of the Committee “Youth Activities and Sports” that face-to-face communication with young people. He encourages the participants to submit suggestions and ideas.
Mrs. Radka Todorova , the Head of The Youth Activities Department of Varna Municipality presented the policies and opportunities offered by the Municipality of Varna including: Youth projects financing, Municipal Voluntary Service, Municipal Youth Advisory Council, funding of all student councils in the city.
In the words of young participants, the thesis “Nothing depends on us” is very popular among them. A student at The Mathematics High School, shared his belief that young people under 18 have much more time that they could dedicate to volunteering and project work than people over 18. Those who are students often use non-teaching time entirely to work and therefore do not get involved in other initiatives.
Another main focus of the discussion was the communication channels through which information reaches young people in the city. The main opinions were mixed. On the one hand some of the participants came to a conclusion /shared a common point of view that more emphasis should be placed on social networks and more information should be provided to young people who are not part of student councils or NGOs.
According to Marten Demirev from the “Innovator” Foundation young people are a key factor. Much higher activity is needed on their part. The problem is not the lack of information or the channel through which it is provided. He even gave an example that active young people can always do something to spread information.
Martin Baychev added that the Committee on Youth Activities and Sports is in session every month and examines letters of interest from young people or youth organizations. He encouraged youngsters to submit concrete suggestions after the meeting.
The National workshop: (7-8 March 2020)
Young people from the age of sixteen to thirty from all over Bulgaria attended the event, including workers, students, and doctoral students.
All of them had the opportunity to exchange the information with the guest speaker, the executive director of Varna-European Youth Capital Sergey Petrov, and the Deputy Minister of Education Mr. P.Nikolov.
Mr. S. Petrov presented to the participants how important it is to overcome the distance between the young people and the decision-makers. The participants were acquitted with the diagram of the Tony Karrer-Four L Model, as well as the ladder of participation.
The Deputy Minister of Education shared more detailed information about civic education and answered the questions that interested the young people. The discussion then focused on activities that can contribute to the engagement of the youngsters in order to become more active citizens. During the second day of the workshop, the young people expressed the pros and cons on various topics related to the youth, authorities, stakeholders, and communities. They finished with reports on coping with the problems. At the end of the day, they created a “bubble” symbolizing their belonging to the society they have created in recent days.
Both of the events were realized within the framework of the international project “Be active, Shape Europe”. The project provoked interest in issues related to our common European home and involved a total of 440 young people in six countries.
As for the expected results, the project succeeded into a great extent to increase:
- Engagement of the participants to the project
- Understanding of the current situation and the influence of Euroscepticism
- Promotion of European values
- Promotion of active citizenship
- Promotion of the European identity
- Promotion of local authorities participation
- Promotion of intercultural understanding and facilitation of the communication among the participating countries
- Promotion of active citizenship and the sense of contributing to the decision-making process