Connecting You(th). Phase II: Youth Forum

Youth Forum Connecting You(th)

With its "Connecting You(th)" project, the P&V Foundation aimed to overcome social divisions among young people. The project consisted of two parts: a call for projects and a youth forum. This project, which was carried out with the support of the National Lottery, was an opportunity for twenty young people aged between 16 and 23, from different backgrounds and from all over Belgium, to gain experience in active citizenship.

Composition and purpose of the Youth Forum

Our Youth Forum consisted of a heterogeneous group of Belgian young people aged between 16 and 23 who did not know each other beforehand. They differed in terms of education, migration background, place of residence, interests and hobbies, etc.  On the one hand, we wanted to enable this diverse group of 20 young people from all over Belgium to understand the regional and local realities of our country, let them identify the breaking points and try to find solutions for them. In other words, to empower young people and let them become an actor in the social debate.

On the other hand, we wanted to bring the good practices from the call for projects that effectively bridge gaps and/or foster social cohesion to the attention of policy makers and the general public, during our final conference and through further dissemination.

Preparation of the Youth Forum

During two preparatory weekends, the young people of the Youth Forum were trained and coached to fully fulfil their role as members of the Youth Forum. For that aim, they were given sessions on citizenship, which gaps there are in society, how to debate without conflict, how to look at a problem through different glasses, ... The youngsters got to know each other better through fun and cultural activities. They had the chance to meet academics, social entrepreneurs and coaches. All these people and workshops provided the young people with tools to be a member of the Youth Forum.

Evaluation of the winning projects

Following the selection and implementation of the projects in the call for projects (from February 2022), it was time to move on to evaluation and reflection. This first stage started in Ghent, Flanders (7-9 October 2022). On the programme of the Youth Forum: workshops on the evaluation of projects and scenarios for the future of society, visits to projects, and fun activities!

As several laureates of our call for projects were based in Ghent, the young people had the chance to get to know 5 projects better, visit them on site and ask them all their questions. The organisations iDrops, Touché and FOS Open Scouting + LEJO came to Viernulvier to give interactive presentations. The young people could then go to Ghent Basketball and Larf/De Kazematten to experience with young people from the organisations what they were doing to bridge gaps among young people.

The final weekend of the Youth Forum took place in Namur on 3-5 February 2023 at the Centre Culturel de Namur. Here, the young people had the opportunity to get to know the other projects better, on the one hand by talking to young people who had participated in certain projects, such as in the preparatory theatre year of Théâtre de Namur, or by getting the latest state of affairs and results through young people who had visited the projects on site, such as Made by Brussels.

The last weekend was also the time for reflection. The young people shared their life stories and tried to get a better understanding of what their talents are, what makes them unique and what connects them across divides. They also had interesting brainstorming sessions, based on their own experiences and what they had learnt from the supported projects, on what is needed to bridge the gaps that exist between them and in society.

Finally, as the closing event was getting closer, the young people came up with exciting ideas on how to make this event as interactive and attractive as possible. The young people also thought about who they wanted to invite to the closing event. Finally, the roles were divided on what their participation in this final event would be. 

Have a look at the video about the Youth Forum made in Namur.

Thanks to our partners: National Lottery, Kunstencentrum VIERNULVIER, S.M.A.K., and Centre Culturel de Namur who contributed with financial support, space or time to make this project possible.

Final event

On 19 April 2023, we organised the closing event of our Connecting Youth project at the Beursschouwburg. The conference was organised in collaboration with the young people of the Youth Forum and Visuality, which was involved in the project from the beginning.

The young people's idea was to adapt the conference's visual identity to a travel format. Thanks to bridges, planes, etc., we can bridge gaps and come closer together. So two young people created an invitation video in that theme. The brochure distributed at the closing event to participants was also done in 'aeroplane' format.

The closing event brought together some 150 young people, researchers, youth experts and organisations to share their experiences during keynote speeches, interactive workshops, podcasts, debates, ... All activities were conceived and coordinated together with the young people. Participants of the Youth Forum also had the chance to ask their questions to Youth Ministers Benjamin Dalle and Valérie Glatigny. The closing event was concluded by a visual summary of all the debates and a poetry slam by four young people from the Youth Forum.

Watch our aftermovie !

What's next?

We are currently in the process of editing a report containing, on the one hand, tips and tricks for setting up a youth forum as part of a call for projects and citizenship trajectory, and, on the other hand, recommendations from across our entire project (with contributions from research, young people, organisations and experts) on how to bridge the divides between young people.

This brochure is expected in spring 2024. 

Project supported by the National Lottery

19 April 2023

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