One of the main activities of the LEAP project was an international online event, which involved around 40 participants connected to the three youth organisations of LEAP. The mobility was a space in which young people from different countries could exchange knowledge, ideas and concepts relating to participation and active citizenship. Most of the attendees were between 17 and 28 years old.
This mobility was organised in a before-during-after mobility logic. Before and after the mobility, other events took place in groups based on the affiliation of the participants to the youth organisations partners of the LEAP project (Austrian, Italy, Croatia).
All the meetings followed the LEAP methodology and were focused on the identification of a driving question for a possible future youth project.
To promote a collaborative process, the meetings were organised and designed to create an engaging environment that included everyone, through energizers and group activities. These were also part of the international mobility and they can be found in our LEAP Methodology, which is a guideline and a toolkit. Breakout sessions were regularly initiated to allow small group exchanges. The group exchanges always ended with a plenary where each group shared the content of their discussions to allow everyone else to interact and collaborate on their ideas.
As part of the international mobility, we first asked the participants questions on the situation of young people in different countries. We wanted to give them the possibility to share their opinion and how this pandemic affects their lives.
Many groups have reported being bored and missing their friends due to Covid-19 restrictions. They also feel that the quality of learning has changed as a result of homeschooling. Several also feel that it has worsened the employment situation for young people. In terms of how young people are seen by the public, it is assumed that they are seen as irresponsible and that the situation of young people is not discussed enough by politicians.
According to the attendees, young people participate in society especially through volunteering acts, like buying groceries for older people. Quality free time and more support by the government concerning youth employment and climate change, have been identified as urging demands of the young participants.
During the international mobility, we also wanted to ensure that we could encourage the participants to find a “driving question” for a youth-project in a collective effort, so with Austrian, Croatian and Italian participants together. Therefore, we presented them with two case studies:
- A local politician is asking you for help to design a local project that meets your needs. How would it look like?
- Some youth organisations are asking you to help to create an educational project. How would it look like?
The results were extremely diverse and ranged from specific to general demands. For example, two different groups had a similar idea. A group demanded events for young people to spend their leisure time online together and another demanded a youth centre for culture, art and politics as a “place to socialise without the need for consumption”. Another group of demands concerned better online learning. These demands ranged from asking for better collaboration between education professionals and IT experts to others concerned about the need to improve independent learning online. One group observed a general lack of mental awareness and sees a solution in offering an online platform and a class for developing habits or knowledge on managing mental health.
To conclude, we could assess a positive impact on those who decided to engage in this interesting journey with us and young people shared their feedback in an anonymous evaluation. From what we could observe, we can state that the event improved participants’ knowledge of how others are coping in these times. As we could see from the demands above, the need to socialise is very prominent. The event was a “corona-real-life break-out-session” for many of the participants. Hence, the participants learned about issues existing in other European countries and that some of the issues are the same in different places. Despite the restrictions imposed by the world health situation that has undermined existing ways of sharing and participating, some young people became aware that even in these times it is possible to feel part of a community.