Empowering youth’s voice to become agents of positive change in their communities
In the framework of the National Youth Strategy 2017-2022, which entrenched the enhancement of youth participation in democratic life, the innovative programme Young Cities has been created. This programme is a highly participatory initiative that focuses on empowering and facilitating the engagement of young people to meet challenges in their local communities in a creative way.
Objectives – Methodology
The programme’s aim is the creation of “Young” cities, through the development and implementation of multiplier effect policy recommendations, which aim to improve society for the benefit of young people and their fellow citizens. The development of young people’s skills and the promotion of active citizenship qualities are also important objectives of the programme. Ensuring youth’s participation in extensive consultations for the development of policies that reflect their needs and views, is a fundamental objective not only of the programme but of the National Youth Strategy as well.
The methodological approach of the programme is called “Think and Do Tank” and its main feature is the formation of brainstorming groups. The groups are composed of young people from various Cyprus communities, who, under the supervision of experienced mentors, are invited to exchange ideas and concerns, propose concrete solutions to various problems and create synergies for joint action within their communities. Through these local consultations, young people have the opportunity to realize their ideas and organize activities and events with the help of local actors and stakeholders.
In addition to the above, the programme aims to provide appropriate training in leadership, critical thinking and the development of negotiation skills, under the guidance of experienced coaches and youth workers.
The programme includes young people aged 14-35 from three municipalities, who are actively involved in participatory bodies, such as Municipal and Community Youth Councils. The bodies responsible for the implementation of the programme are the Youth Board of Cyprus and the National Betting Authority in cooperation with the respective municipalities/communities involved.
1st phase of the programme: Municipalities of Athienou, Aglatzia, Deryneia
The pilot programme started in September 2020 and it was implemented in the municipalities of Athienou, Aglatzia and Deryneia. During the implementation period, young people had the opportunity to intervene in their community, by actively participating in a 10-week training programme, with workshops and discussions. The total number of participants in the three municipalities was 63 (37 women and 26 men).
After the completion of consultations, each group prepared an action plan with suggestions and proposals on how to enhance youth participation in civic life and the organization of local events and for the construction or improvement of youth councils’ infrastructure. In fact, young people from the municipality of Deryneia suggested the creation of a Youth Centre, in the municipality of Athienou, they recommended the improvement of the Youth Centre’s infrastructure and equipment, while in Aglatzia a proposal for the development of municipal cultural events was drafted.
The bodies who coordinated the program implementation are the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) and the Research and Education of Social Empowerment and Transformation (RESET).
2nd phase of the programme: Agios Theodoros, Pahna, Evryhou
Following the success of the pilot phase of the programme and the enthusiastic response of young people, the two organizing bodies, the Youth Board of Cyprus and the National Betting Authority, decided to re-launch the programme in three mountain communities. The communities that will participate in the second phase of the programme are the community of Agios Theodoros in the province of Larnaka, the community of Pachna in the province of Limassol and the community of Evrychou in the province of Nicosia.
The results of the pilot phase of the programme have been satisfactory at all levels, thus the two organizing bodies expect the second phase to be as successful as the first one.