In order to unlock the potential of young people and their knowledge of the region they live in, with a particular focus on the need to activate the potential of local peripheries, ERB International Permanent Secretariat organized a series of two workshops entitled “Baltic Leaders – Energy, Youth, Europe”.
The first one, held on 28th September at Gymnasium 8 in Elblag, was not only a unique opportunity to address teenagers aged between 14 and 15 years old about youth opportunities designed by EU but an opportunity to listen to them and understand how they imagine life in the Baltic Sea Region. Indeed, through an activity based on the concept of non-formal education and free exchange of ideas, teenagers were able to discuss three main topics – Leisure, School, Future – expressing their needs, concerns, hopes. What has emerged clearly from the workshop is that, even though interested in the opportunity to be actively involved in the area they live in as well as to take part to EU mobility related initiative in the future, they think that it could be done more to promote them.
The second one, held 29th September at ERB International Permanent Secretariat, was a structured workshop aiming at presenting the activity of ERB to locals, future Youth Exchanges will take place in Denmark and Sweden as well as at gaining information about Leisure, School/Work, Politics/Governance. Opting for a discussion strategy based on non-formal education, the participants – aged between 16 and 40 years old – had the opportunity to talk about recreational activities, the presence of youth councils, the reason motivating them to emigrate, the way how they conceive politics.
What has emerged during this workshop and the discussion with the three experts invited – Pawel Kulasiewicz (Director of the Center for Economic, Social and Institutional Cooperation – The State Higher Vocational School in Elblag), Agata Ludwiczak (Eureoregion Baltic – International Permanent Secretariat), Marcin Żuchowski (Association of Polish Communes – Euroregion Baltic) – is that youth would like to receive a bigger consideration from politics – the lack of trust toward politicians is deep – and feels the need to have a stronger influence over the decision-making process of young related policies.
During the workshop Ms Ludwiczak had also the opportunity to present CaSYPoT, a project focused on improving cross-border cooperation capacity of actors in the Baltic Area through the creation of a joint knowledge-based strategic youth policy. In order to help with the implementation of the project – management, communication, promotion and dissemination of information – ERB International Permanent Secretariat is currently hosting an IVY volunteer, Domenico Misurelli from Italy. IVY – Interreg Volunteer Youth is a pilot action that offers the possibility to young Europeans aged 18-30 to serve as volunteers in cross-border, transnational or interregional programmes and related projects for 2-6 months. Finally, it was also a chance to introduce the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region aiming at detecting how it tackles youth-related issues and how ERB tries to be in line with it.
The meeting provided ERB with useful information about how young people conceive their role in the society they live in, the degree of engagement and opinions over opportunities offered to them. It is interesting to note that every topic faced showed the necessity for public institutions to provide them with more information as well as to give a concrete opportunity to exert influence in the decision-making process.