As part of educational programmes within the Youth Participation Region project, over 200 students and their teachers have had a chance to discuss youth challenges and opportunities, and figure out ways to make student parliaments more efficient and beneficial both for students and the wider community.
With importance of regional youth cooperation in mind, and with support from the European Union, Open Club in Nis launched an initiative aimed at increasing youth engagement and influencing their future in a responsible manner with a partner organisation from Bulgaria, Free Youth Centre.
When strengthened and inspired, young people may act as drivers of social change and progress. When they are united and connected, the results become even stronger and more tangible.
“The idea behind the initiative is to encourage cooperation in the cross-border region of Serbia and Bulgaria and ensure greater participation of youth through creation of an efficient model of student parliament, based on good practices from these two countries and abroad,” members of Open Club explain.
Student parliaments in some of the most developed EU countries can provide guidelines and serve as a positive example for the development of such parliament in our region.
Open Club has over 20 years been carrying out numerous youth education programmes, and a considerable number of those programmes has been implemented with EU support. Open Club says that youth actively create change and seek ways to improve the way their generation works, create new networking opportunities and, thus, guarantee a better society for all of us.
A joint methodology for student management was also devised within the project, as well as the Virtual Community of Practice (VCoP) – an online tool for networking and selection of participating student parliaments/schools.
The importance of setting up a network of student parliaments in Serbia-Bulgaria border region is reflected in the interest generated among young people, which in turn proves they are ready to engage and take the initiative.
Due to the situation caused by COVID-19, young project participants have shifted their activities and ideas entirely to online means of communication, creating content to inform their peers and the society as a whole about prevention measures during the pandemic.
“We encourage the young to become more active and responsible during the pandemic. The entire content prepared by high school students from six border region towns—including advice on how to behave in the time of corona—can be found on the youthregion.net website,” says Jovana Canji Arandjelovic of Open Club.
Project Youth Participation Region is implemented thanks to European Union’s support through Interreg IPA Bulgaria-Serbia Cross-Border Cooperation Programme.
European Union’s IPA CBC Programme supports cross-border cooperation among candidate countries and EU Member States, with management and implementation of nine IPA CBC programmes between the two countries of the Western Balkans in the focus.
Also, the programme supports regional, multi-country cooperation projects. One of them is the ADRION Programme, a European transnational programme that invests in regional innovation systems, cultural and natural heritage, environmental resilience, sustainable transport and mobility as well as capacity building. Furthermore, wider cooperation between the countries in the region and the EU has been established through IPA Interreg Danube Transnational Programme.
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