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Youth in Action

"The EU made it possible"

The 16-year old Jannik expressed his gratitude to the EU, for the ten-day encounter with young people from Italy and Lithuania in his home town of Swisttal near Bonn. The meeting, which brought together 30 young people aged between 13 and 25, was financed by the European Union’s Youth in Action programme.

30 young Italians, Lithuanians and Germans met at Swisttal near Bonn. The Youth in Action programme brought together young Italians, Lithuanians and Germans Photo: Bundesregierung/Lamberty

It was the second time that Jörg Harde, who works for the local Swisttal youth organisation Kinder- und Jugendring, had organised an encounter of this sort with his colleagues Tadas Maslauskas from Lithuania and Gasparone Salerno from Italy. The project partners were the open youth centre Rietavas in Lithuania and an informal youth group of the Instituto tecnico industriale Leonardo da Vinci, a school in Trapani, in Sicily. Jörg Harde considers it particularly important, "that the young people overcome their prejudices and that we can demonstrate to them the advantages of the European Union". The group met in 2012 in Lithuania, and after this year’s encounter in Germany, the visit to Italy in 2014 is already planned.

Although the sum of 30,000 euros to sponsor the event might seem high at first glance, the encounter would not have been possible without the support of many volunteers. The people of the small town of Swisttal-Strassfeld and their mayor Heinz-Günter Kruse were actively involved in offering the young people board and lodgings in the local community centre. Businesses from the region, the town of Swisttal and the Rhein-Sieg District authority also supported the project.

A wide spectrum of activities for the ten-day programme

A diverse and interesting programme was on offer for the ten-day visit. As well as the chance to enjoy the tourist sights of Cologne and the region, the young people kayaked on the Agger reservoir, and still had time to explore political and social issues.

During their visit to Lithuania in 2012, the group focused on demography and rural exodus. This year the spotlight was on mobility in rural areas. The young people produced a stop-motion film on the subject. One group was responsible for animation, another for the sound, and a third for PR work. Naturally all three nationalities were represented in all groups.

Entertainment too was provided. Games, sporting activities and a rock concert with music and dance rounded off the programme. The full encounter experience was documented in the camp journal "Be the Project" at the end of the visit.

The Youth in Action programme encourages youth encounters, youth initiatives and the European Voluntary Service programme. By the end of 2013 the European Union will have provided a total of 886 million euros for youth groups, charitable associations and youth work facilities in 33 countries. The aim is to strengthen citizenship, solidarity and democratic commitment among young people and to help them achieve greater mobility and cooperation within Europe.

Thursday, 22. August 2013

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