YOUTH ENGAGEMENT: Building a Sense of Initiative and Intervention

- Community Social Peacebuilding & Grassroots Conflict Transformation -

IMPRESSIONS ​FROM THIS PROJECT

Background:
Youths are the cornerstone of the presence and the future. Their social participation must be enhanced and their vital social role should be strengthened. Hence, this project with two phases, one in 2021 and one in 2022, each including a one-week capacity-building training on "​Social Grassroots Conflict Transformation" for local participants from Vienna to train them on how to analyse community issues and design and implement initiatives to tackle a grassroots problem to achieve a positive change. Tackled issues were environmental, social, civic, and political among other social conflictual areas that affect the society and the youth. As a participant, they chose a specific issue to focus on and tackle during the training. The range of possible issues to tackle varied from environment, inclusion, diversity, education, digitalisation, human rights, gender, integration, equality, solidarity, discrimination, justice, culture, and youth empowerment, to topics such as poverty, employment, social public services, sustainability, politics, and climate change. All these diverse topics were analysed and understood, in the framework of visible and invisible violence. Therefore we chose this framework as a method of finding solutions and developing transformation skills and tools to address these topics in a constructive way to achieve a positive change in the community. Overall, the project trained 50 youngsters and young adults from Austria, mainly from Vienna, between 18 and 30 years old. The project equipped the participants with several competences (skills, attitudes, ad knowledge) and they were also able to make practical use of the learning outcomes and designed and implemented more than 5 successful local follow-up initiatives in addition to other transnational European follow-up initiatives. These follow-ups directly reached and benefited more than 100 locals from Austria from different cities.

Learning experience:
During this each of the two capacity-building training courses, 25 participants first learned about the framework of visible and invisible violence, including major concepts such as "violence", "conflict", "peace" and "transformation" to build a common understanding amongst all. Further, the participants were introduced to tools to analyse an existing conflict and think about possible solutions. As a next step, participants worked in small groups to design their own initiatives that address any topic that they wish to influence. Participants were supported during the training to design a comprehensive local initiative with an actual implementation plan. All groups presented their initiatives (problem, solution and intervention) and got feedback. After the training, all groups have been further supported by the organising team to implement these newly designed initiatives as a follow-up to this training on the local level.

Practicalities:
The first training was from 19 to 25 August 2021 and this second training was from 9 to 14 April 2022, in Vienna, Austria for young leaders between 18 and 30 years old who are based in Austria (both citizens &residents) with a moderate English level and who were eager to learn new skills, methods and tools to improve their conflict transformation capacities and better engage in the civic society. Teamwork, cooperation and mutual respect were the core principles shared by all participants. Both trainings were free of charge. It has been financed by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe. Thanks to this generous fund, we covered all the costs for the training, materials, content, meals, breaks, and transportation. For successful participation, the participants had to first fill in an application form to apply, then commit to at least 80% of the training program, sign the learning agreement, and implement the local follow-up initiatives.

 Some of the follow-up initiatives 

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 What do the participants say about this training?