Education, training and professional development
Culture, diversity, and intercultural dialogue
Volunteering, participation and inclusion
Decision making, youth policies and cooperation
Through this program we aim to develop the rural youth sector by activating and enhancing the cooperation between the young people from rural areas and the decision makers, while also developing and strengthening the public youth policies at local, national, and international level. The program was built on the actual challenges of the young people from rural areas, being adapted to their specific needs, problems, opportunities, interests, hopes and expectations and it brings a new perspective in the rural youth sector.
During the year in which the rural communities will hold this title, all activities, projects, events or actions that will be organized at local level will aim to increase the participation of the young people and to develop a culture of participation at local level in order to solve the problems that directly affects them. By participating in the program, young people become more aware of their local resources, they become more visible and readier to act strategically and to create the change they want in their community.
The „European Youth Village” title is given by the program’s Governance to the villages or rural communities which wish and plan to make real changes in the youth life, taking into consideration their local challenges, as well as the program’s main priorities.
To apply for this title, each year, the program’s Governance opens a call for young people from rural areas who, with the support of the local authorities and a nongovernmental organization, plan their village’s application. In this way, the initiative starts from the young people to the rest of the stakeholders, aiming to reach the highest level of the youth participation (taking into consideration Roger Hart’s ladder of participation), where young people are the initiators, and then, the decision is taken together with the decision makers, who becomes part of the process and they share and support the young people’s efforts.
So far, the application consisted in an online form, which had contain:
- the young people’s motivation to bring home, in their village, the title;
- the community’s experience in the youth field (to better understand how the authorities are planning to support the young people’s development at local level);
- the background and experience of the young people submitting the application (to be sure that they have the capacity to implement their plan);
- the local background (the challenges, needs and problems the young people will address during the year their village will have this title, how they identified them and how other young people from their community were involved during the consultations);
- the intervention plan (the relevance of the activity plan in relation to the local challenges, needs and problems of the young people and the European Youth Village program’s transversal and annual priorities, but also the quality of all the activities);
- the expected results and impact, but also the sustainability and how they plan to continue to develop the youth sector at local level;
- all management aspects, including logistics, team management, risks management and how all the other stakeholders will be involved during the entire process.
The applications were preselected by the Governance and then, the finalists have attended an interview, having the chance to support their candidacy. Later on, a team of professionals from the youth sector at national level have evaluated all the applications and they have decided not only who are the rural communities who will receive the title, but also how many.
Even though the application tools are yet just in Romanian, they are available for consultation here.
Content will be added soon;
In the field of Education, training and professional development we aim to:
In the field of Culture, diversity, and intercultural dialogue we aim to:
In the field of Volunteering, participation and inclusion we aim to:
In the field of Decision making, youth policies and cooperation we aim to:
THE STORY SO FAR: HOW WE HAVE BUILT A MOVEMENT IN RURAL AREAS
EUROPEAN YOUTH VILLAGE AS A PILOT PROGRAM
We started in 2017, when we have applied to receive a grant under the KA3 of the European Union’s Erasmus+ program. The project was planned by four Romanian nongovernmental organizations (Asociatia pentru Dezvoltare Activa, Go Free – Asociatia pentru Sprijinirea Societatii Civile, Asociatia Curba de Cultura and Asociatia DEIS), who aimed to develop the youth sector in the rural areas through a pilot program (European Youth Village).
The first activities that took place within the project were consultations with the young people and the decision makers from four villages across Romania (Izvoarele, Copalnic Manastur, Sascut and Sinpaul), the very first four rural communities that have received the European Youth Village title. The consultations took place in Spring 2018 and they were organized to identify both, the young people’s vision regarding the entire pilot program, as we wanted to know what the real expectations of young people from rural areas towards such a program are, but also their local challenges, so that later, during the implementation of the pilot program, the activities to become relevant for them, and to lead to real solutions for their local issues.
The consultations were followed by two national meetings (both organized during the summer of 2018): during the first meeting, young people from the rural areas, together with decision makers and professionals from the youth field have developed the base of all the program’s implementation tools, we have decided the program’s priorities and principles, how the application process will work (eligibility, who can apply, how to apply, how to choose the next villages etc.), all management aspects (who will be part of the program’s Governance, the Governance’s tasks in relationship with the local teams etc.), but also other relevant aspects related on how the entire program will work and it will be implemented; during the second meeting, delegations of young people from the four villages that were getting ready to receive the title have worked on developing their intervention plan: an one year calendar of activities meant to solve local issues and build opportunities for the young people.
Between September and December 2018, the four partners focused their efforts on organizing the young people from the four villages, getting them readier to work closely with the decision makers and the other stakeholders from their communities during the implementation of the pilot program.
On December 5, 2018, on International Volunteers’ Day, thematic events were organized in each village to mark the official launch of the pilot program. During the events, different activities took place: from signing the official agreement between the Governance, the local authorities and the young people to cultural activities (concerts, dances and role plays), different educational workshops and community celebrations.
After the first three months of the implementation of the pilot program, in March 2019, we have organized a national youth meeting, in which:
- we did the mid-term evaluation of the program and checked what happened in each village so far;
- we defined the mechanisms to ensure the continuation of the program;
- we made the know-how transfer to other informal groups of young people from rural areas or organizations interested to apply for the title of ”European Youth Village 2020”.
In July 2019, we officially launched the call for informal groups of young people, to apply for the title of European Youth Village 2020 and we prepared the first edition of the Rural Youth Summit #yRuralSummit and Rural Youth Gala #yRuralGala (Bacau, September 2019).
During the Rural Youth Summit around 100 young people from rural areas across Romania, but also decision makers and professionals from the youth sector have attended. They have participated in different thematic workshops (about community organizing, participating tools, democracy etc.), but also different debates and working session on topics such as “the young people from rural areas’ vision about the future of the rural youth sector”, “youth policies in rural areas” etc., they interacted with the young people from the villages that held the European Youth Village title in 2019, but also with young people from the six finalist rural communities who have applied to take the title in 2020, they attended a street debate in Sascut (one of the villages who held the title in 2019, the closest to Bacau, the place where the summit took place), but also the first ever Rural Youth Gala, an event that aimed to give visibility to the success stories from the rural youth sector across Romania. Also, during the Gala, it was announced that two new rural communities, Garleni and Aroneanu, will become part of the European Youth Villages Network, as both villages were awarded the title of the “European Youth Village of 2020”.
NO MORE A PILOT PROGRAM: THE 2ND AND 3RD GENERATION OF EUROPEAN YOUTH VILLAGES
As in the previous year too, on 5th of December 2019, the young people from both, Garleni and Aroneanu, officially received the title of European Youth Village 2020, followed of course by one year of youth activities in both communities. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic affected the activities of the two informal groups, who weren’t able to fully implement their initial plan.
Also, because of the pandemic, we had to take the decision of not organizing the second edition of the Rural Youth Summit in 2020. Still, we have continued the implementation of the European Youth Village program, so in September 2020, we have officially launched the call for the next European Youth Villages.
In November 2020, we have organized the online edition of the Rural Youth Gala, an event meant to give visibility to the young people, educators, and success stories from the rural areas. We have received almost 50 nominations and, in the end, 9 young people, 4 professionals working grass roots in the rural areas and 4 projects were recognized for their contribution and involvement in their local communities. At the same time, during the event, live on Facebook, there were announced the new villages taking the title in 2021 were Cleja, Grivita and Slimnic, while Aroneanu will continue its term for another year.
We have received 11 applications for the title of ”European Youth Village of 2021”, 8 were preselected as finalists and then 3 of them were selected to receive the title, while another village, which had the title in 2020, continued its term for another year. 11 applications for the title in a pandemic context, was a big sign for us that young people from rural areas are feeling part of this new movement we have created and this is what motivates us to continue working and extending the program at European and international level.
A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF OUR INTERVENTION PLAN AND HOW EUROPEAN YOUTH VILLAGE BECAME A REFERENCE PROGRAM FOR YOUTH POLICIES' DEVELOPMENT IN ROMANIA
If the European Youth Village story is already familiar to you and you know how we have now reached the third generation of European youth villages, we want to tell you more about how we have been involved in recent months in setting a national public policy framework to support young people in rural areas through relevant and effective measures and actions.
European Youth Village means more than just a title. One of the program’s main pillars is focused on youth policies and the dialogue between the young people and the decision makers. In this way, while working grass roots with the young people from the rural areas, doing community organizing and equipping them with skills and tools meant to enhance their participation in their communities, we were also focused on developing different frameworks aiming to strategically empower and develop the young people from rural areas.
The problems young people from rural areas are facing are not sufficiently known: at least in Romania, the statistics and studies on rural areas ignore the young people’s real interests, goals and needs. Young people from rural communities are seen only from the perspective of “young farmers” and as the main group responsible for conserving traditions and old customs. Unfortunately, when we talk about the importance of intersectionality within the public policies and why it is imperative to see young people as they are, in their full complexity, the general perception of the public authorities towards the young people from rural areas is extremely simplistic.
Their challenges the young people from rural communities are facing are diverse, interconnected and concern several domains of intervention. The local community and the authorities are no longer able to respond in real time to the needs of these young people. Oftenly, the dialogue between them seem to be missing entirely, and setting priorities for rural youth at policy level is done without ever having a discussion with them. Young people from rural area ache to be seen, listened to, supported and promoted.
For this reason, after the first year of implementing the program (2019), and especially after many other years in which we were involved in community organizing efforts with young people from rural areas – years in which we have faced challenges caused by precisely the lack of a framework and clear directions assumed by local authorities when it comes to prioritizing young people’s needs at decisional level – we became fully aware about the much needed national and European public policies that aim to develop young people from rural areas, in rural areas.
European Youth Village program is just one of the tools through which we aim to transform the Romanian rural communities into true European youth villages, contributing to achieving the rural youth vision developed in 2019, during the first Rural Youth Summit’s session “Rural Youth in Europe”. In this session, the participants, young people from rural areas all across Romania, identified the elements that, in their opinion, can transform a random village into a European youth village:
“There are opportunities for young people (including young people with disabilities), there are NGOs, role models, and volunteering is promoted; festivals are developed to address all ages; there are organized nationally recognized regular local competitions, talent circles, qualification courses, camps for children and young people, summer schools, first aid courses, sex education workshops etc. There is a functional library and a youth center. An European village is developed from a touristic point of view, it is modern, but it keeps its identity; has a doctor / hospital, pharmacy, public transportation, a kindergarten and nursery. In an European village, school dropout rate is constantly fought, and the authorities are working together with all local stakeholders and the young people. The schools are equipped to European standards. People are digitally connected to access information and news. Young people are encouraged and enabled to participate in decision-making process, while also attending the local council meetings, etc. In an European youth village, there is a culture of participation. The community of a European village is informed, inclusive, cohesive, caring, responsible.” (Rural Youth Summit, Bacău, 2019)
In addition to the young people vision about the future of the rural communities, we want to activate, empower and connect young people in rural areas. We want them to become active citizens in their communities, equal partners with public authorities and other stakeholders in the local community. We aim to produce positive effects and a sustainable impact in rural communities by promoting human rights and democratic values, by facilitating young people’s access to quality education, local resources, social services, health services, social protection and development opportunities, by transforming public institutions in rural areas into inclusive, socially, physically and psychologically safe spaces for all children, young people and adults in the local community and combating any form of social exclusion and discrimination.
To contribute to the realization of the vision of young people from the rural communities, and especially to develop opportunities for the young people from rural areas, in the rural areas, our efforts focus on four main directions:
- Developing strong and involved rural youth communities through the European Youth Village program and increasing the celebrating the young people, the educators and the success stories from the rural areas at the Rural Youth Gala.
- Connecting young people from rural areas to each other and increasing their representation at national level by developing the RITM Network, the first National Informal Network of Rural Youth (and hopefully to extend the network at international level).
- Developing the youth sector in rural areas by establishing the first Romanian federative structure dedicated to support the non-governmental organizations working grass roots with the young people from rural communities.
- Influencing and developing public policies in the field of youth, which are relevant for young people in rural areas, to pursue their development and to contribute strategically to solving the problems that young people from the rural communities are facing.
Since the end of 2019, the members of the European Youth Village program’s governance have set out to develop the White Paper on Rural Youth, a strategic document designed to guide the future public policies aiming to produce effects on young people or youth organizations in rural areas. Following a national wide research campaign, we will propose a set of recommendations and priorities for young people in rural areas that local, county, regional or national public authorities should take into account when evaluating existing public policies or considering the development of new policies, strategies, directions or measures in rural areas.
To elaborate the White Paper we have started to work closely with the Romanian Youth Council and opened up a cooperation call for other stakeholders and organizations to join.
In the process of elaborating the White Paper we want to involve and consult with:
- students studying in rural areas,
- students from rural areas studying in a different locality than the one they are living in,
- students with disabilities from rural areas studying in special schools,
- students of post-secondary schools,
- university students from rural areas,
- young people from rural areas who dropped out of school or did not continue to go to high school / college and do not have a job,
- young people employed in rural areas,
- young people from rural areas who work in another locality than the one they are living in,
- young parents from rural areas,
- young people from national, ethnic, sexual or other minorities living in rural areas,
- young people from rural areas with physical, mental or other health problems,
- young girls from rural areas,
- young entrepreneurs from rural areas, including young farmers and freelancers living in rural areas,
- young people in rural areas working illegally or young day laborers,
- young people in rural areas with economic difficulties,
- young people from rural areas without parents and young people from rural areas who do not live with their parents,
- young artists and sportspeople from rural areas,
- young people from urban areas, adults and financially or socially independent, who have moved to rural areas
- representatives of local and county level public authorities,
- rural teachers and representatives of County School Inspectorates,
- professionals working directly with young people in rural areas and non-governmental organizations in rural areas.
The consultations will take place between April and July 2021, both online (focus groups on the zoom platform, questionnaires, etc.), but also offline, in each region of the country.
Romanian Youth Resolution 2020-2027 „The future begins today!”
At the end of 2020, we were involved together with the Romanian Youth Council and over 20 other organizations in drafting the Romanian Youth Resolution, a Support Document containing an action plans to improve the quality of life of young people in Romania, based on the 11 European Youth Objectives. Given our experience in rural areas, we were involved in drafting the chapter related with the 6th Objective – Moving rural youth forward: defining the vision and objectives and proposing relevant measures for the young people from rural areas.
We proposed five general objectives that aim at the development of young people in rural areas are:
- To celebrate and bring to spotlight the young people from rural areas, the professionals working grass roots with them and the best practices from the rural youth sector.
- To build a culture of participation among young people from rural areas and to diversify the resources, facilities and the development opportunities of young people from rural areas, in the rural areas;
- To increase the accessibility of young people from rural areas to quality education, vocational training, culture, art, sports, volunteering, health services and social services;
- To promote and support the personal, professional and social development of young people from the rural communities;
- To contribute to the digitalization of the rural youth and the development of the youth sector in rural areas.
To achive these objectives, we have priorities the following specific objectives/measures:
- Promoting a strategic approach to the needs, problems, challenges and development opportunities of rural youth in sustainable and relevant youth policies in relation to the development needs of local communities;
- Encouraging a responsible dialogue between young people and public authorities in rural areas, the inclusion of young people in community life and increase their role in the decision-making process;
- Strengthening the rural youth sector by supporting educators, youth workers and other professionals working grass roots with the young people from rural areas, but also informal and formal structures representing young people in rural areas or providing services to them;
- Facilitating the access of young people from rural areas to quality education and opportunities for personal, professional and social development;
- Developing cultural opportunities for young people in rural areas and promoting cultural consumption, cultural diversity and the European identity among them;
- Developing professional opportunities for young people in rural areas;
- Facilitating the access of young people from rural areas to local resources, social measures and quality medical services.
It should be noted that six of the seven specific objectives/measures proposed by us in the Youth Resolution have been included in The Government’s Programme 2020-2024 (Priorities 2020 – 2024 for the youth area, 7. Inclusion: inclusion of young people with reduced opportunities).
First of all, both Active Development Association ADA (Asociatia pentru Dezvoltare Activă) and Go Free – the Association for Civil Society Support (Go Free – Asociatia pentru Sprijinirea Societății Civile), the two organizations that currently coordinate the European Youth Village program, are members of the National Council For Youth, a consultation mechanism that the Ministry of Youth and Sports uses in elaborating and monitoring the application of public youth policies at national level.
As part of the National Council For Youth, in recent months, we have been involved in the process of developing the future national youth strategy, and between 18th and 21st of March 2021 we participated in a work meeting in Bucharest with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, in which we developed a first version of the general and specific objectives of the future strategy.
During the meeting we argued that it is extremely important that the development of young people from rural areas, IN THE RURAL AREAS, to become a priority and one of the global objectives assumed by the strategy (an objective not found in the old strategy). We also stressed the importance of addressing the local context, realities and special needs of young people in rural areas through strategic measures relevant to them, using an intersectional approach, but also changing the general perception towards the young people in rural areas that they should be just farmers and the only ones responsible for preserving traditions and customs.”
We left the meeting organized by the Ministry of Youth and Sports with confidence that young people from rural areas will become a priority in the future National Youth Strategy. We, in turn, are open to working with national authorities to find solutions to support rural youth, and we want to contribute with our expertise to the development of future public policies targeting the rural youth sector.
We want the Romanian public authorities to understand and recognize not only that young people in rural areas exist, but also that they now have a voice and their own youth movement, they have needs that they can communicate and they want them to be heard, they have the will to get involved in the community and turn their villages into real, developed, active and inclusive European youth villages. And, moreover, we want the Romanian public authorities, both at national and local level, to act strategically to support and develop the youth sector in rural areas, to adopt realistic measures that can have a positive impact on rural communities.
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the start of the research, we want to complete the White Paper by September 2021 and officially launch it during the second edition of the Rural Youth Summit, a key event for the rural youth movement, planned to take place in autumn in Aroneanu village in Iași County, one of the villages that this year bears the title of „European Youth Village 2021”, along with Cleja (Bacău), Grivița (Galați) and Slimnic (Sibiu).
At the same time, we plan to extend officially the European Youth Village program at European level, so rural communities from all across Europe to be able to apply for the title. To do this, we plan first to develop the necessary mechanisms for the extension of the program at European level and plan the first European Summit of the Young People from Rural Areas.