As the weather changes during seasons, so does everything around us come to some change. Summer was a very busy time for Active with many things happening - approximately 200 Active people became wild in the Swiss mountains during the Wild14 camp, a new Active board was elected, the second phase of DIY Toolbox was held, new policies and plans were approved, and all together the summer flew by. In August the office took a little rest so it was a bit quiet for a while. So what is happening now in September?
Last weekend I went on a trip. It was a trip throughout Europe, but also a trip in time. Backwards and forward =) Me and Kathatina Balmes from the board of Active - sobriety, friendship and peace went to visit the Active camp and Congress #Wild14 venue. Yes, we did travel to the Swiss Alps to see how the place looks like, what we would need to make sure our young people from Europe have the best experience during #Wild14.
Last month from 9th until 15th of March in Bytom, Poland there was a feeling of a quite different vibe close to the city centre. 20 young and inspired people from 11 countries came together with 5 prep team members for a new seminar created by Active – sobriety, friendship and peace called “Do It Yourself (DIY) – Soft Skills for Hard Workers”.
European Parliament Elections Position Paper
Create (Y)Our Europe Campaign
Young people represent the most valuable resource for any society - they are the catalyzers of new ideas, their productivity moves the economy and the development of countries. Young people’s values and engagement in the democratic life creates the pavement for prosperity on national and European level.
However, young people today are experiencing less and less opportunities for a proactive and fully thriving life:
v young people have different educational and work profile enhancing options available, and yet they drop of school and remain unemployed ;
v young people have more open spaces than ever, and yet they lack free , safe and inclusive environments ;
v young people are able to migrate to different countries and societies and yet they still face social exclusion in their local community;
v young people have more information available than ever, yet not sufficient attention has been made to addressing their media literacy and youth-targeting practices ;
v young people are being the focal point of orientation of many European policies, and yet young people are facing unemployment, exclusion, poverty, lack of motivation and proactiveness, undergoing to substance abuse ;
v young people are able to explore different societies, environments and lifestyles, and yet they are facing public spaces that are exclusive, fostering a culture that lacks alcohol-free surroundings and quality leisure time activities.
In the past five years, the position of young people and children in the EU has been more challenging than ever.
This image of young people in Europe shows that an immediate action needs to be taken to increase the participation of young people in society, enhance their well-being, stimulate their potential and give recognition to young people’s skills, while fostering their employability. On European level, this calls for a stimulation for creating more opportunities and policies with increased focus on young people and children.
Active – Sobriety, Friendship and Peace would therefore encourage the political groups, political parties and individual candidates for members of the European Parliament to take steps towards ensuring young people and children’s health, well-being and active citizenship.
We have identified a set of stand points whose fulfillment will bring us closer to the vision that we want to achieve and the Europe that we would like to live in. We have set up the way for creating Our Europe, and Your Europe.
Accenting Non-Formal Education
With the increasing orientation of youth organizations and other stakeholders to provide for non-formal education activities, young people are getting a set of skills and intercultural experiences that otherwise would not have been available for them. Through non-formal education, young people get to develop their self-esteem, leadership traits and to identify themselves as an active part of society that is part of the solution of a particular issue.
Non-formal education activities conducted in free, safe and inclusive environments where alcohol and other drugs are not fostered represent not only a learning hub, but also a safe haven for many young people coming from socially excluded groups.
Volunteering, seminars, study sessions, workshops and other forms of non-formal education should be a subject of validation and recognition by educational institutions, employers and other relevant stakeholders.
We encourage the development of clear policies on the rights and responsibilities of volunteers.
We encourage the development of a common framework on defining, impact measurement and validation of non-formal education activitieson EU level in order to kick-start the process of recognition of non-formal education.
We call for a resolution for all EU-funded activities to be carried out in alcohol and other drugs-free environments.
Orienting to quality jobs, internships and traineeships
In the rise of youth unemployment in EU and the adoption of the Youth Guarantee as a way to go forward, there is an additional need to set policies that regulate the engagements of young people in internships and traineeships, as well as protection mechanisms for young workers.
We call for equal treatment of young workers on the labor market, with reference to their time of adjustment to the new position, their working hours and remuneration.
We stand for quality internships and traineeships, which are remunerated and based on the fulfilment of clear objectives for both the intern and the employer.
Only by setting a framework and supporting mechanisms to ensure that there is a clear definition of the rights, responsibilities and objectives, remuneration and validation of the experience , it will be ensured that the young people have (first) positive experience while entering the labor market. These experiences are defining as they strongly influence the lifestyle of young people, their motivation, self-esteem and well-being further in life.
We call for increased attention to be paid on creating a base for quality jobs, internships and traineeships for young people, and continuous advocacy on focusing on the rights of young people.
Caring about the well being of young people
As an outcome of the past years spent in the light of austerity measures, the well-being of young people was strongly and negatively affected. The crisis brought increased levels of youth unemployment and school drop outs which made it difficult for young people to have access to social protection and health care.
In addition, the atmosphere of lack of opportunities and hearing declinations more often than acceptance, had put a serious threat to the mental health of young people – depression, lack of self-esteem, and early onset alcohol consumption are on the rise. Young people have been put on the margins of cultural and leisure time activities, as the quality time that they can spend in their social environment is decreasing and lacks prioritization.
Ultimately, the rise of social exclusion and environments that foster alcohol consumption has shown to be limiting for certain groups of young people who are already facing social challenges – Children of Alcoholics, who amount to 9 million in the EU, represent one of the groups for which society fails to create thriving environments.
In order to ensure full development of young people, there has to be a wholesome of young people’s working and social environments.
We therefore call for mainstreaming of the well-being of young people in all policies, stimulating annual research on the determinants and level of well-being of young people in EU, stronger collaboration between the youth organizations and EU institutions and making efforts for creating richer, more inclusive and alcohol and other drugs free social environments for young people.
We encourage the introduction of a European Children of Alcoholics Awareness Week and steering up the discussion for making the environments more inclusive for Children of Alcoholics.
Promoting a modern lifestyle for young Europeans
Young people are the source of new ideas and hold the solutions to the challenges that Europe is facing today. As such, young people of today should be able to seize their full potential, to be on the hub of the developments, to pioneer new ideas and to be role models for the generations to come.
Young people are to portray the modern image of youth in Europe today, and a significant portion to that image goes to the promotion of young people’s lifestyle. Unfortunately, young people today are not offered enough opportunities to practice a healthy, proactive and inspirational lifestyle that could depict the image of why are young people seen as an important stakeholder.
The challenges in terms of lifestyle are related to the quality of social activities that are available for young people and that are carried out in an alcohol and other drugs-free environment, as environments that stimulate one’s full potential and promote inclusiveness. The challenges are presented through the lack of tasty and attractive alcohol-free drinks that are offered, as well as in the lack of tools that aim to increase the productivity and level of knowledge among young people. The thoughts, actions, health choices and social activities of young people portray the behavior of one whole generation and determine a lifestyle.
We call for the future members of the European Parliament and related stakeholders to take note of the importance of the lifestyle choices of young people today and to stimulate the creation of healthy, alcohol-free choices in the social environments.
We urge for more opportunities for young people to practice their lifestyle choices and we suggest that inspiration comes from the immediate structures of the EU. Therefore, we encourage the creation of non-formal groups and clubs in the Parliament that would inspire and set an example on leading healthy, alcohol and other drugs-free lifestyle .
Including young people in decision making
Young people should be included in the decision making processes and creation of policies that affect them. Furthermore, young people’s participation should not be limited to “youth issues” only – rather than that, and as adults of tomorrow, young people should be motivated to find their interests in their social surrounding and to become advocates and sources of ideas.
The concept of European citizenship still remains a semi-discovered puzzle for young people that requires further elaboration in a youth-friendly language and through easy to understand principles. In order for young people to take up the proactive role in the democratic processes, stronger interaction, openness and transparency needs to be shown by the decision makers on national and EU level.
We therefore call for an instrument to be built that will be able to actively reach out to young people and increase their engagement in the processes that are taking place on EU level.
We call for the future members of the European Parliament to have a clear priority in positive responding to meetings with young people and establishing clear and regular communication with young people and youth organizatons.
Encouraging investments and resources for young people
The budget plans and programmes of the EU institutions in this mandate should be in line with the Europe 2020 Strategy priorities. In that sense, a clear orientation towards reducing school drop outs, social exclusion and poverty needs to take place. The initial steps in that sense include addressing the factors that are affecting the increase of school drop outs, social exclusion and poverty.
We call for more resources for young people to be invested in programmes that provide quality education, employment programmes, non-formal education activities, programmes that are oriented towards increasing social inclusion and support for youth organizations that are implementing youth programmes.
We urge for an orientation where attention will be paid to the environments where all the activities and initiatives take place. It is of big importance that the environments are open, inclusive, free from prejudges and free from alcohol and other drugs. In this way, the environments will enable for young people to feel healthy, pressure-less and to experience full potential development.
We encourage the future members of the European Parliament to be guided by the interests of young people and to mainstream the needs of young people on more investments and resources that will be contribute to skills and experience gaining, health and well being.
Active – Sobriety, Friendship and Peace’s vision is a democratic, diverse and peaceful world free from alcohol and other drugs where any individual can live up to her full potential.
We believe that by prioritizing on the health and well-being of young people, mainstreaming the promotion of a modern and alcohol and other drugs-free lifestyle, while addressing the mechanisms for ensuring full participation of young people in the democratic processes and fulfillment of the rights of young people, we will take a step forward in the creation of our Europe. Your Europe as well.