Best practice

Skate parks – the expression of an empowered youth

Skate parks – the expression of an empowered youth 1080 1080 our civic space

Skate parks – the expression of an empowered youth

Skate parks and civic spaces, a priori don’t have much in common. Nevertheless, if we look at the skate parks more closely, they are often a vibrant space for the artistic and the sportive. They are also a place for freedom of expression. This provides a solid foundation for the empowerment of the youth. 

The following example from the Czech Republic is a good evidence of that:
In the east of Prague, in the district of Ujezd nad Lesy, there used to be an old skate park, which needed some renovation urgently.  It had some defects and presented some dangers to the riders. Despite that, it remained a popular gathering place for the youth and soon grew the idea to renovate the park. At first, the youth who visited park did not know how to proceed and request a renovation until a facebook group was formed with riders and the help of local community workers. As discussions followed and requests got more precise, the youth workers called out to the local municipality to inform them about their wish to have the skate park renovated. Eventually, a meeting with the youth, the social workers and representatives from the municipality was organised. After the meeting, the municipality discussed the proposal and together with the youth they agreed not to renovate the old park, but build a new skatepark. Some of the youth were then even involved in the creation of the park’s plans.

The construction of the skate park was completed in the summer of 2018 and a grand public opening was organised. 

The skate park is now crowded with people. There are BMX, skate and scooter riders. The local youth centre organises regular events and in 2020, two official races took place there. Everything is prepared by the local youth, and the youth workers give them only support on punctual basis. Behind the skate park, there is a legal graffiti wall that the local youth also take care of and use as a wall for creative expression. 

This example represents an ideal form of cooperation and empowerment of the youth. We often see the discouragement that youth can have in realising their ideas either because of the lack of guidance or the lack of trust in the ideas formulated. Here, the key element was the initial support that youth received from the local community workers with whom they were in a trusted relationship. This helped to shape the ideas more concretely, as the youth workers provided experience and also acted as a bridge towards the local authorities, what eventually made the initial idea realistic. 

Written by INEX



How do you engage (and retain) girls in community sports?

How do you engage (and retain) girls in community sports? 2000 1333 our civic space

How do you engage (and retain) girls in community sports?

Research shows that girls meet the physical activity guidelines less often than boys, especially in the age group of 12-18 years old.  Adolescent girls develop other interests and sport seems to become less important. The lack of fun in sports is often the main reason for drop-out. For adolescent girls finding their way back to sports proves to be very difficult. This is where community sports can play an important role! But which aspects do you need to pay attention to if you want to engage and retain girls in community sports? (In this article you will find an overview of insights and practice stories, shared during the event #zijspeeltmee of ISA in the spring of 2020). 

Success Stories from community sports coaches 
Community sport coach Debby (municipality of Tilburg) and Angelique (Richard Krajicek Foundation) have successfully introduced the concept of girls’ sessions in community sports. From their experiences, they have listed four success factors of their approach:

1. Personal contact

  • Make sure you get to know each girl and let the girls know that they matter
  • Invest time in the girls, and you will see that they will also invest time in you
  • Build activities around their wishes. Work ‘demand-oriented’ (use different techniques, see below under “What do girls want?”). Give the girls ownership: let them decide and organise.
  • Let the girls participate. Give them a chance to develop outside the sessions and involve them in other community sport activities where possible.

2. Atmosphere, fun and safety

  • Make sure the atmosphere and fun are leading (not sports). Plan a moment every now and then where the girls can have a chat and the focus is not on physical activity.
  • Make sure the sessions are accessible. Tell them it is okay to bring their friends.
  • Think carefully about the activity you offer. Especially the social aspect is important for girls: being together and working together. Offer a combination of sports, games and recreation.
  • Create a safe environment in which the girls can exercise. This is both a physically safe environment (the physical place where the session takes place) and socially safe (an open and positive atmosphere where people listen to each other, help each other and respect each other).

3. Make use of role models 

  • Use older girls as role models, they are close to the target group and can be an extension of recruiting (new) girls.
  • Be aware that as a community sports coach you also act as a role model. This means you have to set a good example as well. The girls look up to you and you often develop a strong connection with the girls.

4. Interdisciplinary cooperation – you can’t do it alone!

  • Work together in the neighborhood where the girls live. Make an inventory: Who are you already working with? With whom can you cooperate (more)? For example: schools, youth work, social district team or the municipality.
  • The combination of community sports coach and youth worker appears to be very successful cooperation , but this cooperation is often not self-evident.

If you want to involve girls in community sports, participation alone is not enough. Engagement is the magic word. If girls feel engaged in the sessions, have fun, can exercise in a safe environment and you as a community sports coach facilitate rather than direct, the girls will come back and you will create a sustainable activity with girls.

What do girls want?
As a community sports coach or youth worker, make sure you discover what the girls want. You can do this by talking to the girls in the community in different ways. For example, you can reflect with the girls after an activity. What did they like? What did they learn? Or you can use question cards (which you can make yourself) to find out what a group of girls wants, so you can hear the experiences and wishes of the girls. Talk to the girls to find out what activities they want to do, where, when and with whom. This way you can organise activities which have real support.

When you talk to the girls, use different forms. Ask them in groups, individually, but also during the ‘small talk’. This is when the girls say what they think and what they want. Also, be aware that every group and neighbourhood is different and requires different activities. One group may want to play sports indoors, another group may want to play sports outdoors or on a square. It also differs per group whether or not they want to play sports with boys.

How do you reach the girls?
If girls don’t know you, they won’t come to your sports activities. So go to them, join an activity they already do, get to know them and then invite them to join a community sport activity. It also works well for girls if you approach them at school or in the classroom (for example, during gym class). If you, as a community sports coach or youth worker, have already had a short talk with the girl at school and she gets to know you, she is more likely to come to your activity afterwards.

What should you take into account as a community sports coach or youth worker?
ISA – in cooperation with partners from the Erasmus+ programme ‘She Got Game’ – asked the girls themselves what they really want, what motivates them to come back and what their ideal girls’ session looks like. This resulted in eight important insights that a community sports coach or youth worker should take into account

  1. The environment: it is important to create a joyful, supportive and safe environment where only girls come together. Solidarity and appreciation for each other are essential features.
  2. Anti-performance culture: every girl-regardless of her skills – must be able to be herself and participate in all activities. The challenge is to create a culture in which you can make mistakes and you are not taken lightly. If possible, try to remove the competition element from the activities.
  3. Progress: however, this anti-performance culture should not be at the expense of the opportunities to develop as a girl. This requires creativity and planning of the neighborhood sports coaches.
  4. “Levelling the playing field”: as a community sports coach or youth worker, you have to divide your attention among the girls. Who needs extra attention or a push in the right direction, and who doesn’t? Think of different levels within the activities, so that all girls can participate on their own level.
  5. Building trust & relationships: building and maintaining relationships is essential. This applies both to the coach/youth worker and girls, and to girls among themselves. A close, trusting relationship contributes greatly to the girls’ motivation.
  6. Ownership: it is important to create a culture where it is normal for the girls to raise their voices and be heard. As a coach or youth worker you should be able to listen to this and adjust your activities accordingly.
  7. Friendships: friendships between girls are essential. Give ‘me time’ and space for this.
  8. Stability: in order to maintain the involvement of the girls, it is important to maintain stability. This means canceling as few sessions as possible and not rotating between coaches. Stability strongly helps with the feeling of unity and togetherness.

Written by ISA

Using youth-led peer research to break the silence on adolescent sexuality in Bulgaria

Using youth-led peer research to break the silence on adolescent sexuality in Bulgaria 918 612 our civic space

Using youth-led peer research to break the silence on adolescent sexuality in Bulgaria 

In Bulgarian schools, the topic of sex education is contentious and often even avoided, leading to a lack of proper knowledge and understanding of sexuality among young people. An innovative research project tried to address this gap by training adolescents as peer researchers to gather information on how young Bulgarians perceived their relationships with others in their community. This led to a series of intimate conversations revealing that young Bulgarians felt the need for better sexual education and the creation of ‘safe spaces’ where young people can discuss sex, sexuality, and relationships. They also prompted action among youth peer researchers, who initiated a number of activities to teach themselves and their peers about sex and sexuality.

In the last two years, the Bulgarian government has made limited progress in its attempt to implement the Istanbul Convention and its National Strategy for Children 2019-2030. This strategy was developed to improve the support provided to children and families, especially to vulnerable children and women who suffer the effects of domestic violence. However, some conservatives lobbied against the Convention’s implementation based on their interpretation of the concept of ‘gender’ and their suspicion that Bulgarian NGOs were trying to implement early sexuality education and to promote homosexuality in schools. As a result of such a sensitive situation, new challenges arise. It has become more difficult to lobby about sexuality education programs in front of the relevant governmental structures and school representatives.

In response to these challenges, the ‘Adolescents’ Perceptions on Healthy Relationships’ (APHR) project was initiated to prevent sexual abuse and exploitation of adolescents by improving the safety and security of the spaces in which they move and live. Funded by the Oak Foundation, and implemented by International Child Development Initiatives, the Institute of Social Studies and Animus Association. The project focused on understanding how adolescents in Bulgaria view healthy relationships based on the idea that healthy relationships can prevent sexual abuse and exploitation. In this project, adolescents were trained as peer researchers and advocates. 

The 30 Bulgarian Youth Peer Researchers (YPRs) who participated in the project between January 2017 and March 2019 researched various aspects of relationships in different settings, such as in the family, peers/friends, and schools. Through a survey, qualitative interviews, and focus group discussions on topics such as violence, sexuality, and online behaviour, they consulted with 850 adolescents, unpacking concepts that adolescents reported as important ingredients for healthy relations—concepts such as trust, respect, equality, and dominance. The research revealed a great deal about the world in which young people in Bulgaria navigate and how this affects their relationships. The research showed, for example, that homosexuality, a hot topic in Bulgaria over the past few years, remains a challenge for youths: only 47% felt comfortable sharing their sexual status with their parents. In addition, 58% of YPRs responded that they think that violence always, often, or sometimes occurs in romantic relationships between teenagers, mostly psychological violence.

A gap in education, a lack of space

“Actually, I’ve read a lot of articles about sex. I took part in a course (not related to school) dedicated to sexual education. I do not learn anything in my school. I learned a lot from the girls from this group.” (Alexander, 17)

In Bulgaria, many schools offer no sexual education at all. Teachers are unwilling to talk about sex and when they do, the curriculum tends to focus on ‘biological’ and negative aspects and risks of sexuality, such as early pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. YPRs pointed out that although these findings did not surprise them, they found them very problematic. They and their peers now depend on each other and on the Internet to get information on sex and sexuality. The YPRs also commented that the school does not provide any space for learning or exchange when it comes to these topics. Yet they assert that understanding the role of sex is essential to a healthy relationship, as it is to be open and informative about it. Adolescents therefore need safe spaces and opportunities to discuss it. This, they argue, will greatly contribute to establishing and maintaining healthy (intimate) relationships throughout their lifetimes. 

Youths driving action to transform sex education
Following these discussions, youth peer researchers have felt increasingly empowered to take action. First of all, the YPRs have taught themselves what there is to know about sexual education. Through literacy and online research, listening to experts and talking to their peers, they have come to understand what information young people need to have when it comes to sex and sexuality. They have not only informed themselves, but have also become peer educators, helping their classmates to become better informed and feel comfortable when talking about this subject. Moreover, the YPRs now confidently indicate what is needed to improve sexual education and information for young people. And they haven’t stopped here. To really make changes, they have devised a Policy Brief with recommendations for schools to improve sexual education. This policy brief formed the basis of an advocacy campaign, which includes a website, peer-to-peer sexual education classes, a social media campaign, and the creation of events and spaces where young people can discuss matters of sexuality freely and safely. 

In July 2020, despite and during the COVID-19 pandemic, the YPRs organized an out-door event, in which 42 young people participated in a World Café, discussing sexuality, relationships and the threat they face because of COVID-19. 

The project results reveal the potential of participatory peer research itself for effecting positive change and promoting healthy relationships from an adolescent-centered perspective. In fact, it has in this case led to young people claiming civic space on several levels. They now have a space in the debate on sexual education, have established actual spaces where this can safely be discussed, and have an online platform accessible to all youth in Bulgaria.

Written by ICDI

Supporting the youth in Hungary

Supporting the youth in Hungary 2560 1707 our civic space

Supporting the youth in Hungary

We at OSA see that many of our participants have a low socio-economic status, have difficulties in many areas of life, often live in a fragmented family situation or child protection institutions, and live or have lived in unsatisfactory housing conditions. These youth lack stability, regularity, and often a primary caregiver from whom they can be guided unconditionally. School drop-out is a common phenomenon among the youth we target, despite their still being compelled to attend school by law. As a result of all these phenomena, players who come to us, regardless of age or gender, are likely to be involved in crime to some extent (such as theft or drug trafficking). To be able to tackle these social problems, we aim to include youth in our programmes as much as possible and retain them – which still proves to be one of the biggest problems for our organisation.

OSA’s goal
One of the cornerstones of our association’s activity is football trainings held in different locations on a weekly basis, during which the goal is not necessarily to acquire fitness and perfect ball play, but rather to create team building, social inclusion and to overcome (gender) differences. On the other side, in order to establish a more open relationship, our social workers participate in trainings, keep in constant contact with the players and – in the case of our younger players – their parents and relatives. Once a more confidential relationship is established, we try to support our players in social assistance, be it solving a housing problem, mental health counselling or emotional help during a medical examination.

What have we done
Throughout our programmes, we have achieved great results among the youth. A scholarship programme has been held, in which the youth are monitored in their development. Several different English language sessions have been organised – for both under 18 and 18+ players – with a consistent attendance. In order to thrive, it is not enough for them to be able to play football well, it is important that they can also tell the other participants about their experiences. English education plays a big role in this, as those who play football well and attend English classes regularly are more likely to join the team traveling to foreign football tournaments and participate in scholarship programmes provided by OSA. By participating in these programmes, they become active in shaping their own life. Additionally, over 30 employability and employment workshops have been organised, impacting the lives of over 350 youth. Nearly 100 girls have been supported through psycho-educational methods through OSA’s girls’ club. 

One of OSA’s clear successes, has been the cooperation with international football organisations, and the development of good relations with them. For example, the UEFA Foundation for Children and the FIFA Community Programme both made a major contribution to OSA’s operations in 2019. 

Due to the less communication between social groups from different backgrounds, we faced several challenges. Keeping in mind the goals of the programme, we always try to reach different groups in the society. Talking with these different groups it is crucial to highlight common ground for the future and attempt to open up to acceptance of differences.

Written by OSA

Magnambougou’s basketball field

Magnambougou’s basketball field 1200 800 our civic space

Magnambougou’s basketball field

In 2019 together with other (local) organisations, ISA invested in a new 3×3 basketball field to create a safe space for the youth and children in the community of Magnambougou in Bamako, Mali.

Currently, more than 70 percent of the total population in Mali is younger than 39 years old. Within their communities, young people face many difficulties: the lack of drinking water, electricity, adequate youth sport spaces and criminality.

A lack of (civic) space is often an issue in large, fast-urban areas. Having this space, however, is no less important for the local community. With the help of ISA, over the last five years, the community members, coaches and youth in Magnambougou have committed themselves to creating safe spaces for the youth and children. After observing and receiving the backing of the community, ISA decided to invest in a 3×3 basketball field for the community. The most important aspect for this field, is that it should not become an ISA field, but should be developed, built and maintained by the community itself. For ISA, the main objectives of this project was not only to create an adequate sports space for inclusive participation of youth in sports, but to go a step beyond and create a space for passion, spark and pursuit. To make the voices of young people heard on issues that concerns them. Different activities for positive youth development are organised in and around the community field, which have helped increase (girls’) participation and given the youth a place to speak up and share their thoughts.

ISA chose to invest in the sports field of Warima, a former ISA coach. He did not own the field, but due to being well connected in the community, he was able to make sure that the field benefited community. The existing sports field was damaged and unusable, partially due to heavy rains. The decision to invest in a new sports field for the community of Magnambougou, was based on Warima’s outstanding efforts to empower the youth in his community.

ISA has developed the field together with the community, using the expertise of artist Shon Price to develop some designs based on local ideas. The youth from the community brought in ideas for the field and picked out the final design of the field themselves. One of the key aspects for ISA, was that the field be developed and created by the community in order to create local ownership. By letting the youth paint the field, there was a large advantage in terms of cost reduction. But most importantly, it provided them with the opportunity to be involved in the process and be proud of the impact they created. The field now is used by athletes, youth, coaches and community members from across the country. By involving these different target groups throughout the process of developing this field, an increased sense of ownership was created among the youth.

The grand opening of the new field was organised through a bottom-up approach in which the community and youth involved local rappers, MCs, politicians and many other stakeholders. This event showed that the new field became a stage for new types of activities and investments. The dedication of the youth, and investment from ISA’s part, has also led to even more investments in the community for this new public, safe space.
A local businessman, Mamadou Soumaoro, decided, he wanted youth and children to be able to play at all times and decided to donate lighting for the field. Additionally, many different stakeholders have requested to be able to use the field for local, regional and national events – empowering the (members of the) community of Magnambougou.
Every evening, seven days a week, around 35 young people from the community get trained by Warima and his colleagues, among which there are also more and more girls participating. This is evidence for the effect the field has on girls’ participation in sports and other activities within the community. When there is no training going on, children and youth can always be found playing sports by themselves. This community 3×3 basketball field attracts the youth and helps them escape from drug abuse and other unpleasant behavior that is going on around them in the community.
Looking back on this journey of providing an exceptional space for youth to be involved in sports, we have noticed that civic space needs active and motivated citizens, to make it work. The community taking ownership and responsibility is very important while creating a civic space. Get people involved at the very beginning until the end by working with them and listening to their needs and ideas.
The most difficult part of this journey was that it is not always easy to find local organisations who can help to financially support an initiative. By getting in touch with potential local people and organisations in an early stage, it will give them more time and space to look at the contribution they can make. Finally, by investing in monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) after the programme is implemented, it is possible to create insight and possible improvements to create an even bigger impact on local communities.
In the end, an investment like this in hardware will further support the development of the region and can enable local youth to think of new ways in which they can continue to contribute to their community.
One of the biggest partners for this was the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which provided most of the funding.

Four lessons from Magnambougou:

1. In order to make a civic space work, active and motivated citizens are necessary. The community needs to take ownership and responsibility – getting people involved from the beginning of the process can support this. In our case, the most important aspect was that the created field should not become an ISA field, but should be developed, built and maintained by the community itself. This is not necessarily always the case, but the support from the community does help in ensuring the civic space is used for the right purposes.

2. For the 3×3 field, one of the struggles was the lack of local organisations willing to financially support the initiative. By getting in touch with potential local people and organisations in an early stage, it will give them more time and space to look at the contribution they can make – although this is not a given.

3. The field is not only used by members of the community, but also by athletes, youth, coaches and community members from across the country. This ensures that the field does not only have a local presence but is acknowledged and respected by people beyond the community and creates a sense of pride for the community.

4. By investing in monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) after the activities are implemented, it is possible to create insight and possible improvements to create an even bigger impact on local communities. This aspect was less considered during the creation of the 3×3 field.

Written by ISA

The Romanian youth foundations and their legal framework

The Romanian youth foundations and their legal framework 1200 800 our civic space

The Romanian youth foundations and their legal framework

In March 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic was taking over, the Ministry of Youth and Sport launched a public consultation on a draft of an implementing regulation of Law no.146/2002, an overdue plan derived from the Government Emergency Ordinance undermining the integrity of the youth foundations by reinstating the demand that 3 out of 5 board members are named by the respective county councils. Simultaneously, a harmful legislative initiative was making its way through the parliament, intending to repeal the legal framework under which the foundations function and their subsequent dissolution. These two initiatives, received much attention from some students’ associations, which prompted a poorly researched and ill-intended crusade against FITT and the youth foundations.

FITT’s goal
FITT’s main objective was preserving the status quo in terms of the youth foundations’ legal framework, strongly believing that interfering with the board structure and taking the legacy away from the youth and into the hands of the county councils would certainly have critical consequences on both the foundations themselves, as well as the young local community that benefits from their activity.

What we do
The main strategic direction that FITT followed was debunking the claim which constituted the heart of the initiators’ reasoning: that the existing youth foundations do not undertake projects that are relevant for the young people in their areas. Therefore, FITT took on an “emulsifier” role, bringing together all county youth foundations under the umbrella of a website that transparently outlines their activity, as well as give information on their local members, their employees, partners and strategies.
Another popular argument among the supporters of the two proposals was the supposed misuse of the patrimony. FITT illustrated how assigning the patrimony into the administration of public authorities might in reality not be the much-praised solution some think it to be. On the contrary, experience has proven that some buildings and land belonging to the former communist youth which were given into the custody of the county councils have over the years turned into private businesses and shopping malls, aspect which had been conveniently left out of the public debate. This double-standard approach was called out by FITT in an open letter to the group of supporters, which emphasized the damage one-sided stories can cause if left unattended.

What have we achieved
FITT’s extensive network on both national and international level has been vital in creating public pressure on the ministry to prolong the duration of the consultation process, as well as create a working group to amply discuss and debate the context with the civil society, including those targeted directly by these proposed regulations, the foundations. The ministry’s inbox was flooded with letters from local, national, and international structures condemning their proposal.

The issue of the youth foundations’ legal framework is still ongoing, but we are hopeful that our cause is supported by hard facts and truths that are impossible to dispute. Despite the piles of research and frustrations behind this fight, there is a silver lining in the fact that it has for the first time brought all youth foundations together, a collaboation that might start a ripple effect to ultimately update the current legislation in the youth field, in line with current European principles.

When talking about the matter of Romania’s youth foundations and FITT’s recent battles to prove how beneficial they truly are for the local youth community, Mihai Vilcea, president of FITT and leader of the movement to empower youth foundations, says:
“It is inspiring to see that through the unceasing hard work of a few an otherwise harmful initiative can take on new valences and potentially influence young people for the better, by forcing an honest discussion about the entire existing patrimony, not only the part managed by NGOs, but also the one managed by the state. We hope that this will compel the state to assume responsibility for its past shortcomings and develop a strategy to rebuild and refurbish the patrimony that has fallen into disrepair, for youth’s benefit.”

The FITT team has gone through 30 years of history as part of the research carried out to understand the journey of youth foundations.

Written by FITT

Improving civic space in the Czech Republic

Improving civic space in the Czech Republic 900 600 our civic space

How work-camps and fair-play football contribute to improving civic space in the Czech Republic

INEX-SDA can be considered as a platform for voluntary initiatives, which organises different types of activities for the development and empowerment of youth. In our case study we will focus on 2 concrete activities: workcamps and the league of fair-play football. 


Work-camps are local and international stays that provides manual and non-manual support on a voluntary basis to local communities. The regular season of work-camps is usually from May to September and is coordinated among different organisations around the world. INEX-SDA coordinates the sending of Czech volunteers to work-camps abroad and also the implementation of work-camps in the Czech Republic for international and local volunteers. Around 2000 work-camps are organised abroad and 35 in the Czech Republic. The work-camps last from 3 days to 3 weeks and offer a variety of themes from community development, restoration of historical landmarks, social projects to environmental projects. Every year around 450 volunteers are sent abroad and on average we host also 350 volunteers in the Czech Republic. 

The league of fair-play football 

The league of fair-play football is another initiative which focuses on local youth and especially on young people between the ages of 10 to 18 years who are more at risk of social challenges. We organise this league in cooperation with around 30 local youth and social centres in 6 different regions of Czech Republic. The clients of those clubs are young people, who spend their free time and after-school time on a voluntary basis in those clubs. There they can receive support and consultation with regards school, health or other types of challenges they may face. It is also a place where they can meet and play with other young people alike in a free and safe environment. In addition some of those clubs take part in our league of fair-play football, which is played from September to June, once per month. This league is based on the principle of self-determination by players. That means that each game is played according to the rules that both teams need to agree on before the matches. So each match is preceded by a discussion, where players discuss and agree on the rules they want to apply for that game. Afterwards they play and once the match is finished the teams meet again and debrief about the match. They discuss if the rules were respected, if there was any unfair or controversial situation, they point out the positive aspects of the match and eventually they award each other a number of fair-play points in accordance with the point system defined for each league. So each match ends with points for the match and points for the fairness of the game. This process is facilitated by mediators who help the players to come to an agreement and also reflect on the games. This supports the development of important competence among the players, such as how to express an opinion clearly, group speaking, decision making, compromising and the peaceful resolution of conflicts. 

Civic spaces and INEX-SDA

Civic spaces are connected with democracy and a space for expression and sharing opinions, but also simply a place where to meet. An important element is that a civic space should have the function to do something beneficial for society. Also, a civic space should include a diverse mix of people. Most of INEX-SDA’s youth are and take part in the activities of NGOs on a voluntary basis. Most of those activities involve the gathering of young people who share the same values or interest (ex. Czech-German culture or language or a social cause like helping migrants). In a majority of cases, the trigger for youth to be engaged in civic spaces was the experience with other international young people, either through a university, a school exchange programme or a youth exchange. The reference from another person or friend was also mentioned has triggering the first step into civic spaces. To be surrounded by other active young people encourages them to also take part in similar activities. 

In terms of obstacles to become engaged in civic spaces, INEX’s youth stated the lack of initial information and the need to find the information by your own. The access to information is a big challenge for youth to become engaged. Additionally it seems that there is a lack in diversity in the civic spaces, which creates opportunities for the same type and profile of people, eventually creating a bubble of people that has access to the same civic spaces. Financial needs often also prevent youth from taking part in civic spaces. Finally, in general cities offer many more opportunities than villages or rural areas. In terms of improving this, the school can play an important role in raising awareness about those possibilities – at the moment it is not doing it enough. A more progressive educational system is required. A system where pupils are presented with options to get involved in civic spaces but also a system that asks them to develop their critical thinking. The second path is also the awareness made by the media, which remains low. Internet advertising is also something which could help young people to find some more opportunities. 

  • Work-camps: The work-camps provide space for gathering of people from different social horizons and that is a space for sharing and inspiration to be active further after the work-camp ends. Also, work-camps help into enlarging the target group and access as it brings people from different social and geographical backgrounds together. 
  • Football fair-play league: an advantage as opposed to work camps, is that the participants learn the values while accessing and participating in the fair-play league. They don’t necessarily have the values of civic responsibility in them, whereas at the work-camps the expectation is that you would already share those values and hence you would take part in the work-camps. It also builds an inclusive bridge between different target groups (young people at risk and not at risk, local communities, social workers, students, etc.). 

Written by INEX

  • 1
  • 2