How to empower young people in Europe
May 27, 2024

How to empower young people in Europe


In today’s interconnected world, the value of connections is very high and its importance should be assessed correctly. Most will agree that nowadays young people are embracing the opportunities presented by digital connectivity, mentoring programmes, and community engagement to gain valuable experience for their future careers and to contribute to a more inclusive society. Through social media platforms, online forums, and virtual communities, they can connect with peers from across the continent and beyond.

I recently participated in one such online forum. It was the Model United Nations, where we presented countries’ positions to other participants and exchanged important information. This forum allowed us, young people, to overcome our fear of speaking, to conduct political discussions and to gain new experiences and new ideas. Also it was a very interesting way for us to connect with people from many countries around the world. This kind of digital landscape not only breaks down geographical barriers but also empowers young Europeans to expand their horizons and pursue their aspirations with confidence.

Mentoring programmes and networking events are also very important, because they provide young people with guidance and support from experienced individuals who can offer advice, share knowledge, and help navigate challenges. This guidance can be instrumental in helping young people to make informed decisions about their education, future career paths, and personal development. Mentors often become role models for young people, demonstrating qualities such as perseverance, resilience, and integrity. By working with mentors, young people can learn many valuable skills. Through interaction and feedback, they can build confidence in their abilities and develop a positive self-image. This increased confidence can empower them to set ambitious goals, pursue their passions, and overcome obstacles. Mentoring can have a significant impact on academic and career outcomes for young people. Research has shown that students who participate in mentoring programmes are more likely to graduate from high school, enrol in college, and pursue higher-paying careers.

To truly harness the power of connections in empowering young people, it is essential for stakeholders across Europe to come together and support initiatives that facilitate meaningful engagement and collaboration. Educational institutions, governments, and civil society organisations all have a role to play in creating platforms and programmes that provide young Europeans with the tools, resources, and opportunities they need to thrive. By investing in mentorship programmes, promoting networking events, and fostering community engagement, the next generation of leaders will be equipped with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to shape the future of Europe. 

Here I would like to talk briefly about the Young Ambassadors Programme, which gives young people the opportunity to gain great experience and all the skills listed above. Being a Young European Ambassador gave me the opportunity to meet young people with different ideas but common goals, to get new knowledge from them. Communicating with mentors is very helpful in managing our volunteering activities.

Young Ambassadors try to reach as many people as possible to provide them with important information about the EU and the opportunities that are available to them, to make them more informed and to help them become more motivated and active citizens. The Young European Ambassadors initiative helps us to become more active citizens and at least to a small extent contribute to the introduction of European values ​​in our respective countries.

At the beginning of this article, I discussed the importance of online forums. And now I want to talk not about online, but about face-to-face forums. For the first time, I took part in the modelling of the Council of Europe, where I exchanged ideas with many young people. I remembered outstanding examples from the activities of different countries, and I wanted to implement them in my country.

Next up was Modelling UN in Barcelona, ​​where I left more confident, experienced and prepared. By this I want to say that this encouraged us young people, connected us together, showed us that our voice and thoughts matter. I really like the policy of the European authorities in the process of forming young leaders and active citizens.

Empowering young people in Europe is not just a goal; it is a fundamental necessity for the future of our continent. To conclude all of the above, these connections, whether they be personal, professional, or digital, serve as bridges that facilitate the exchange of ideas, opportunities, and support networks. By fostering connections, we create pathways for young individuals to access resources, mentors, and experiences that can propel young people from Europe towards personal growth and societal impact.

Through collaboration and mutual support, these connections have the transformative power to break down barriers, inspire innovation, and cultivate a generation of empowered, resilient, and globally-minded youth, ready to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.

Sources

·   J. Briggs. (2017), Young People and Political Participation pp 63–86

·   J. Arnett (2004) Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road from Late Teens through the Twenties, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

·    Frosso Motti-Stefanidi & Elvira Cicognani (2018), ‘Bringing the European Union closer to its young citizens: Youth active citizenship in Europe and trust in EU institutions’, European Journal of Developmental Psychology Volume 15.

·   Massimiliano Mascherini, Anna Rita Manca, Bryony Hoskins (2009) The characterization of Active Citizenship in Europe, European Communities, 2009




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