Under the impact of the actual challenges facing Europe there seems to be various perspectives on how participation, a sense of citizenship and democratic values need to be further developed today. Current research shows that young people tend to participate rather in non-traditional forms and different examples can be found all over Europe where young people do get involved if their interests and needs are directly addressed.
Across Europe the understanding of what participation actually is differs – mainly at the divide between social, civic and political participation. This project assumes that all three forms are interrelated, and lead to a greater democratic participation and active citizenship. Reflection on this concept is at the core of “How to ignite the spark”.
This long-term project aims are:
Contributing to a better understanding of alternative and diverse forms of participation in democratic life;
Promoting the value of young people as part of a vivid and contentious democracy under development;
Bridging the ability to articulate an individual interest to an ability to articulate a common interest with others;
Reflecting on the learning of participation as a way to inspire critical citizens;
Enabling multipliers to empower young people to take an active role in democratic society.
The project has a core interest in strengthening participation for groups which are normally underrepresented and have less access to ways of influencing their living environment. This includes young refugees and migrants, people of black and ethnic minority background (BME), NEETs, young apprentices, trainees and workers, young people in vocational training centres, schools or non-formal settings such as youth initiatives.
This activity is the third of a set of three Participation Labs with 25 – 30 participants. Each lab brings together a good mixture of field experts, researchers, practitioners, trainers, political educators and other multipliers to explore a current challenge and find out about the burning questions, existing knowledge and models of practice. This may lead to one or more training courses in the future as result of the labs.
The first lab was implemented in Bonn, Germany in November 2016 and it focused on how to give young people with fewer opportunities a voice. The second lab is being held in Lund, Sweden and focuses on whether there is a role for youth work and civic education in defence of democracy and European values. The application deadline for the second lab is 24 March 2017. See: https://www.salto-youth.net/tools/european-training-calendar/training/ignite-the-spark-participation-lab2-what-is-the-future-of-civic-political-education.6356/. It is not necessary to have participated in previous labs in order to attend either the second Lab in Lund, Sweden or the third lab in Manchester, UK.
Objectives for this Lab
How the situation of young people in the labour market and in transition phase be improved by youth participation;
Giving students, young employees, young entrepreneurs, trainees, apprentices, NEETs, young people in precarious work situations, unemployed young people etc. a voice;
Striking a balance between individualization and contributing to a common interest;
Reflecting on the role of youth workers, educators and multipliers in this process – leading to a better understanding of the needs and situation of young people.