Two Erasmus + projects, submitted by ERB partners in Sweden and Denmark have just been approved: Youth 3.0 and Youth 4.0. They are two of the four ambitious projects submitted last April by a partnership of four organizations in Sweden, Denmark, Poland and Lithuania. The leadership is foreseen for Europe Direct Bornholm for Youth 3.0, and Kumulus for Youth 4.0, organizations both committed in the field of youth cooperation.
The partnership emerged naturally in the Euroregion Baltic cooperation, and in the frame of its Youth Board, represented by 8 young people from the South Baltic regions involved. It is from the latter that the idea to apply for Erasmus + emerged. More specifically, the project ideation is the result of an analysis of the problems that affect the youth in the affiliated countries, namely high unemployment, early school drop-out, uncertainty about the future, fear of initiating one’s own business activity. In this frame, the role of NGOs is fundamental for a prompt response but limited at the same time since they are chained in a “vicious circle”. Cities accuse NGOs for low commitment, impeding their unfold at the same time, reducing their financing. Thus, Youth 3.0 and 4.0 pretend to be a sort of redemption, whose aim is to provide high quality exchange experiences based on two packages: Young Digital and Volunteering.
The overall objective of the two complementary approved projects is to raise the level of competence of 24 pre-selected young leaders from the South Baltic Region (Poland, Lithuania, Sweden, Denmark). The projects have the duration of one year, and activities will be effectively implemented from September 2017 to August 2018. The main idea is that the candidates are 6 from each participating country, aged 16-30, with strong enthusiasm, representing different groups and background environments, e.g. dance groups, young bands, street artists, board games fans etc. with some knowledge in youth entrepreneurship. The scope is to provide examples of “informal learning”, something that is not provided by traditional public education systems. These activities are often well-anchored but youngsters have no means- or they have fear- of formalizing/registering for them. Through a constructed research on needs and opportunities, especially in small communities, Youth 3.0 and 4.0 will provide an answer to the necessities of young people searching for a tangible realization of their vocations. These projects are fully in line with the objectives of Erasmus + Program, thus the 24 participants will take part in 5-days “study exchanges”, in Rønne (Denmark) and Kalmar (Sweden), aimed at stimulating critical thinking, cultural exchange, intercultural dialogue, development of one’s own attitudes and values.
Youth 3.0 will be turned to raise awareness of non-formal education and the practical aspects of using ICT technologies in daily work, allowing participants to gain knowledge in digital technologies by incubating leaders and bottom-up initiatives. Youth 4.0 will be dedicated to the Volunteering package and on the importance of experiencing participation in an organization/enterprise, an opportunity to develop personal skills, due to the dynamics of group work. Volunteering can be also a means to increase self-confidence, to know personal limits but also attitudes, to develop soft skills like tolerance, openness, respect for diversity, reliability, flexibility, etc. Creative methods of personal development are the added value of this project.
Final outputs of these experiences should be the launch of 20 small local initiatives conducted by the young participants and the construction of a cooperation network between youth communities in the Baltic sea, exploiting the resonance made by the reputation of the Erasmus + program.
The associations involved are Europe Direct Bornholm, an EU Information centre within the Regional Municipality of Bornholm (DK), whose aim is to spread information about EU, initiate debates and launch participatory activities at local level. Kumulus, as non-governmental organization located in Kalmar County (Sweden), is specialized in “Youth in Action” (ERASMUS + and ESV). It counts on the collaboration of numerous volunteers and it has the purpose to increase young people’s opportunities for personal development through international experience. The two partner organizations from Poland and Lithuania will also have a lot to offer as regard youth topic. Kretinga’s “Round Table” (LT) is an umbrella organization that represents local youth (14-29 years old) in public authorities, and supports them in participating in policy making and active citizenship. Euroregion Baltic (ERB), Poland- being a politically solid cooperation in the south-eastern Baltic Sea region, consists in eight regions of Denmark, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden. It can count on an efficient operational network that facilitates the promotion of political dialogue, local democracy, people-to-people contacts. It hosts the ERB Youth Board.