Capacity building through training for young people in the border area, and creative public actions animating the wider community and emphasising the importance of youth activism, multiculturalism and human rights.
The project “Active Youth for Active Societies” was the product of a long-term cooperation between two sister organisations – the Centre for Youth Work from Novi Sad, Serbia, and the Forum MNE from Podgorica, Montenegro. Both organisations have been dealing with youth issues for a whole decade. It emerged as a need for the development of young peoples’ aspirations and capacities in six municipalities of Serbia and Montenegro. Through capacity building and networking of formal and non-formal groups of youth activists, the project aspired to protect human rights and promote multiculturalism in local communities. This youth development project counted on the support and enthusiasm of many additional partners and associates – various CSOs and municipalities – as well as national and international sponsors.
To enhance cross-border professional and civil society cooperation in the area of youth activism as a basis for social revitalization and the strengthening of the ongoing democratisation processes on the common path to the EU.
To promote and protect human rights in the Sandžak area through capacity building and networking of formal and non-formal youth groups including Youth Offices in youth activism, protection of human rights and fostering multiculturalism and diversity in local communities.
The project involved capacity building of more than 30 young people from six municipalities (Rožaje, Plav and Berane in Montenegro and Novi Pazar, Prijepolje and Sjenica in Serbia) through interactive training on the topics of “from multiculturalism to inter-culturalism”, community development and youth activism. The training encouraged the participants to map out and conduct community actions and their ideas were presented in public through the final activity, known as “Youth Bus”, within the framework of which youth activism, multiculturalism and cooperation were promoted at local and cross-border level.
The branded “Youth Bus” drew the attention of the public in the cross-border area during its six days of travel. Young people age 18-25 were full of positive spirit, energy, enthusiasm and motivation for making positive changes in their communities to influence the quality of life of their peers. Apart from a series of creative public actions that animated the wider community and emphasised the importance of youth activism, open debates with mayors and/or the representatives of local self-government provided an unique opportunity to openly discuss youth issues and lobby for investments and improvements to the status of young people.
Specific project outputs included six events/exhibitions, a website, a handbook on multiculturalism and human rights, and a documentary film at the end of the project.
The results of the project included:
enhanced capacities of representatives of civil society organisations (CSOs) for promotion of multiculturalism and human rights;
coordinated and coherent action of youth CSOs and local/regional actors in targeted municipalities for promoting multiculturalism and human rights in their communities;
a platform for constant dialogue between youth CSOs, institutions and citizens for the promotion of multiculturalism and human rights in the community;
an increased level of support to address issues of multiculturalism and human rights.
Furthermore, the project proved to have an added value when, as result of this action, a Youth Office was created in Rožaje.
Aspects of good practice
The project has demonstrated to be an example of good practice across the board. The publication of the handbook on multiculturalism and human rights, and the documentary film created at the end of the project represented specific elements of good practice, inspiration and stimulus for other young and those working with youth to actively involve in the development of their communities and thus contribute to the improvement of the status of young people in Serbia and Montenegro. Furthermore, the cooperation established through this project reached around 75,000 people; what can be regarded as a sound basis for good neighbourly relations in the future and for new cross-border initiatives.
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