Method: Empowerment through Project Based Participation
To implement autonomous projects and collaborative initiatives at a young age develops skills, entrepreneurial mentality and confidence. A 15-year-old who is implementing a project at 500 euro may very well carry out a million euro-project when he/she is 25 years!
All children and youth have the resources to make a positive contribution if they achieve trust, respect, commitment and real impact in their communities. A challenge for local authorities, youth workers and youth information workers is to develop methods of participation which reaches various youth in different arenas, not necessarily just through schools and youth councils.
The method Project Based Participation gives young people the opportunity to influence their own communities and their own lives by realizing their own ideas and thus actively contribute to the development of society. This is a supplement to the traditional political participation where young people get to participate within a "grown up" system and framework.
The method is action oriented (learning through action), and helps to strengthen the independence, self-confidence and learning ability of each young person. The method puts youth participation in focus. With basic competence in project management young people are better equipped to use various tools to plan and implement projects in different scales. It is our experience that all young people have a very strong implementation force when it is their own idea they are carrying through and they are doing something they are passionate about. Project based participation challenges youth to trust themselves and to push the limits of what they think they are capable of.
The Project Cradle is a key tool that the youth information center uses in Project Based Participation. Key concepts here are youth participation and a focus on the young person’s own ideas and initiative. The reason why this method works is that it is based on young people's own energy and interest, and that it challenges young people in taking responsibility for implementation and result.
The Project Cradle is a "kick starter" to put ideas into practice in a simple and quick way. Young people from 15 to 25 can get help through The Project Cradle in many ways:
o Infrastructure - Access to equipment, rooms, working facilities, other infrastructure
It is our experience that project based participation is universal and works regardless of social or geographical background as long as you focus on what the young people are passionate about. The method has been tested in cities and in rural areas in Norway, as well as Russia, South Africa, Gaza and more with great success.
The method has values in terms of self-development, youth initiatives, community development, entrepreneurship and democracy.
o Increased confidence, skills, competence and self-esteem of individuals, and many youngsters have new roles in their communities
o More activities by and for young people in the city and region
o Lowered threshold for initiating a youth project in the local community
o Increased cooperation between local clubs, associations, municipalities and businesses as a result of local youth initiatives
o Increased awareness among young people about the local environment and local resources
o Increased expertise and power among the young population
o Commercial Establishment - many of the projects end up in their own cultural industry initiatives, or providing knowledge and skills leading to new businesses later
o Have led to more positive attitude towards youth in the local community – the city now sees young people as a resource
o In regards to emigration/depopulation of young people in rural areas: - If children and young people have had positive experiences and had the opportunity to influence their own communities, they have a greater desire to come back to their home region when they are ready to settle down with their family after graduation.
o Damper dissatisfaction/prevent youth rebellion - If young people are taken seriously and are allowed to have an impact on their community they are less likely to feel alienated. Failure to develop quality services for young people will lead to young people's energy and frustration finding outlets in other ways.
EXAMPLES OF PROJECTS
No idea is too small or too big – or too crazy!
o A festival based on a FISHING BOAT ON LAND, which was used as a stage and with exclusively local bands.
o The paper plane club who invited one of the leading flight engineers from Boeing in the USA to teach them about aerodynamics – and he accepted!
o Young people between 17 to 23 years old initiated an open air music festival in 2004 in Tromsø – it is now one of Norway’s biggest festivals with a yearly turnover of 1,5 million euro.
o A young boy had a project to build a mind-controlled robotic exoskeleton for a friend who had cerebral palsy.
o Two young hip-hop dancers received support and guidance to develop the hip hop show "Alexander the Great". In May 2013 the performance premiered at the local theatre, with a total budget of several hundred thousand euro.
o And many, many more…
Youth Information tool: Counselling, workshops, networking, social media, online services, peer-to-peer, international projects.