– To give youth workers and youth leaders the chance to explore the challenges of youth empowerment on theoretical and practical level
– To equip participants with experienced based methods of democratic decision making
– To reflect upon the challenges and chances of a power transfer to young people and the concrete consequences for the work of participants
– To develop follow up projects for young people, which will take the outcomes of the project into consideration
One of the ongoing tasks and challenges of youth work is to contribute to the education of young citizens, who are able to act autonomously and responsibly within their peer-group as well as in the society. This learning process is also known as youth empowerment and is aimed at enabling young people to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way. The more young people are confronted with the complexity of holding power and exerting it autonomously, the more a real process of youth empowerment is possible.
Youth workers are facing a paradox though: empowerment means “to give power to someone”, however, in youth NGOs and youth work settings, the power tends still to be held (consciously or not) by youth workers or organizations’ elder members. Youth workers can take the challenge of youth empowerment, if they reflect upon the nature of this problem as well as concrete pedagogical methods concerning a “power transfer” to the young people they work with.
Yet, by “stepping back” and “giving up power” the previously existing power hierarchy dissolves and a new one emerges among the group of youngsters, which might be even authoritarian. Therefore, prior to the transfer of power, youth workers have to sensitize young people about democracy, how it functions and give them a chance to understand what it means for their daily life. Youth empowerment does not strive after turning young people in solitary individuals, who work for their own benefit. Empowerment rather aims at increasing the self-determination of young people, giving them the chance to experience the positive role they can play within the society, according to the democratic values of liberty, equality and justice.
Taking into account the described context the proposed training course “DEMOCRACY – YOUTH – POWER” offers youth workers and youth leaders from program and EECA + Russia partner countries a well conceived learning program aimed at reflecting upon theories, methodologies and best-practices to make possible a democratic youth empowerment in their NGOs and youth centers.