In Italy, a series of activities were promoted and held within the scope of the GamifyEU project. The activities were promoted by La Fenice between January 2019 and March 2021 and were generally directed at young people, between the ages of 14 and 19 in the local communities. The first activity was a survey called YES! Gam-EU Survey. This activity was carried out between January and February 2019 and included digital promotion activities, meeting with teachers and school representatives, and short activities in schools to present the project and survey.
The survey was translated in Italian by La Fenice and shared with teachers and professors in local high schools to spread the questionnaire and collect as many answers as possible from the local youth. In total, 421 young people were reached, mostly aged between 14 and 16. The questionnaire was a great way to start getting in contact with the schools and to set the ground for further workshops and interventions, raising awareness about the EU among young people with extremely different backgrounds. The survey was shared among La Fenice volunteers and among informal groups attending activities in the Youth Centre. Additionally, thanks to the collaboration with local high schools (ISIS Marconi-Carbone and Liceo Peano), La Fenice members had the chance to go class by class in order to present the project and to support students in filling in the questionnaire online. The survey responses help determine the tendencies and thoughts of young people towards the EU, their sense of belonging to the Union, and the role they fulfil within their communities.
The survey was filled by 421 young people, of which 272 were aged between 14 and 16 years old. The average age of respondents is approximately 20 years old. Out of the total 421 interviewees, only 15 did not define themselves as citizens of the European Union. According to their answers to the questions “Which country are you from?”, their countries of origin are China, Russia, Serbia, North Macedonia, India, Turkey, Ecuador, Albania. Many of the young people interviewed, however, are also first- or second- generation migrants (mostly from Northern Africa and the Balkans), some of them have Italian citizenship. Most respondents (221) are living in an urban area, Tortona, a small town in the North-west of Italy with around 26.000 inhabitants (situated approximately 1 hour away from Milano and 1 hour away from Genova). Nevertheless, 200 of the respondents live in suburban and rural areas, mostly referring to the hillside and countryside outside Tortona. Some of these rural villages are up to 8km away from the main town and are little or not at all connected to Tortona by public transportation. Public services are also quite lacking in these areas.
According to the data collected, 171 have quite a neutral feeling towards the EU and their sense of belonging to it. However, results are showing a general positive attitude, with 184 respondents (43.7%) feeling enough or a lot European and only 68 respondents (16.2%) feeling either a little or not at all belonging to the EU. Respondents gave a wide range of responses when asked to mention the first 3 things they thought when hearing the word “Europe”. Some of the most common and underlined words were “Union”, “Euro”, “Erasmus”, “Nations”, “Peace”, “Culture”. The great majority of the respondents recognise the benefits of the EU as the possibility to work and travel abroad, in its 28 member states, but also as the possibility to access the Erasmus Plus Programme. According to the data collected, young people from Tortona seem to have a generally neutral image of the EU.
The topic to which young people agree more is the one concerning the possibility for European citizens to travel in the 28 member states. The “neutrality” shown on many of the topics proposed could also indicate a lack of sufficient knowledge on the topic itself, as some of the respondents pointed out when filling in the form. In general, it is worth pointing out that young people seem to have a positive attitude towards a) a united Europe as a strong actor in a globalised world, b) having a common currency, c) the opportunity the EU offers to travel without borders and to live and work abroad. While, quite surprisingly considering the current political situation in Italy, they do not feel like Immigration is having negative effects on the EU (not in terms of radicalisation, nor in terms of destroying values or diminishing job opportunities). When it comes to voting and being democratically active in society, around 36% of respondents declared they are voting (either in “real life” or at school) or would like to vote in the future. T
he majority of the respondents over 18 (around 68%) answered positively to this question. The level of uncertainty (young people declaring they do not know if they would vote) is still quite high (more than 11%). Being most of the respondents under 18, the most of them (almost 40%) answered negatively giving as a reason the fact that they are still minors. The great part of young people (58%) that answered the survey considered themselves to be active in their local communities. In particular, out of the respondents who defined themselves as “active”, around 60% are active at school, while 52% are active in some sport club and 32% in the local youth centre. Political participation is very low among the young people (less than 3%), such as generic volunteering (less than 1%). Between March and May 2019, a series of workshops on EU Citizenship, values, history and institutions were held. There were a total of ten meetings within the scope of these workshops, each lasting about two hours, and involving approximately 200 young people between the ages of 18 and 19 from ten classes in the three local high schools of Tortona.
During the workshops, digital interactive tools, such as Mentimeter, were used for proposing games, quizzes, and interactive questions to spur participants’ knowledge and curiosity about the EU, its history and values, its institutions and the perceptions that young people have about the EU. This was particularly interesting considering that more than 40% of the students in the Marconi-Carbone professional high school in Tortona are of migrant background, and many of them have educational and behavioural difficulties. The World Café on EU Citizenship happened on April 30 th , 2019, at La Fenice’s Youth Centre. Approximately 30 young people aged between 14 and 19 years old took part in the activity.
About 30% of these had a migrant background and 50% had educational difficulties. Lastly, about 5% of the participants had mental health issues (the World Café took place in parallel with a project on youth mental health). This activity intended to bring youth closer to the EU values and principles and to spark the curiosity and interest of younger generations in European topics. Even though many of the young participants involved were not yet allowed to vote in the upcoming elections, this was a useful and fundamental moment to share views and address some doubts and concerns the youth had, overturning some strong and common misconceptions by providing examples and information and by allowing young people to discuss among themselves and with the youth workers.
The Workshops on testing the GamifyEU platform were held between May and June 2019. In total, there were ten meetings of two hours each, and approximately 200 students of the Marconi-Carbone professional high school in Tortona, between the ages of 18 and 19 years old, were involved in the activity. The students that had previously attended the Workshops on EU Citizenship, values, history and institutions also had the chance to attend specific workshops where they could test the GamifyEU platform and play with their classmates. The platform was thus used and tested in all meetings. Firstly, it was introduced by the facilitator and then young people were invited to register and/or test it in small groups (depending on the tools available, internet connection, number of people, teachers’ indications, etc.).
This activity also allowed the students to prepare for their final exam, as from 2019 they are obliged to present essays and small research pieces on Citizenship education. Thus, thanks to the participation in the GamifyEU workshops they were able to present projects on the topic of EU, therefore helping the achievement of the project objectives on a short-term basis, but also creating a long-term effect by ensuring that young people would keep analysing and discussing these topics.
A Blue Beer for EU (“Birra Blu, per l’EU”) was organized in collaboration with a local brewery and pub in Tortona, “Fermento”. This activity took place on May 18 th , 2019, right before the local and European Parliamentary Elections, and intended to spread knowledge and sensitize the general public to the EU values and principles, with a specific focus on the elections. Within the scope of this activity a special beer was brewed for the participants, there was live music, a GamifyEU stand with gadgets and information about the project, a live “challenge” on the Gamify platform, and other smaller activities were held. The platform was presented on the stage by the volunteers/facilitators and there were different info/testing points where people could play individually or in small groups. This event lasted about four hours and involved approximately 100 people aged between 18 and 50 years old, from the local community.
This event was particularly interesting because it reached a more diverse audience and to engage with youth outside of the schools and outside of La Fenice’s usual beneficiaries. In April 2019, La Fenice proceeded to do Digital Trainings on GamifyEU. Therefore, and considering the COVID-19 pandemic situation and related lockdown, weekly meetings were set up with approximately 12 participants – volunteers from La Fenice and young people -, who were supposed to run and facilitate local activities. During these meetings, the participants were trained on how to implement the educational sessions planned for the school and there were discussions about options and alternatives to migrate local activities online and/or to organize events during the summer (whenever possible). At this point, the platform was under revision, as such, the group was kept informed about news and insights about the new games and challenges and was asked for inputs and suggestions as well. Between January and March 2021 Workshops on testing the GamifyEU platform were held within the scope of the GamifyEU project and promoted by La Fenice.
The workshops tackled the topics of digital citizenship, European citizenship, European history and integration process, European Union values and institutions, European programs, and policies for youth, GamifyEU project and results. Each meeting lasted about 2 hours and in total 21 workshops were implemented, involving 175 young people between the ages of 15 and 19, attending the Marconi-Carbone professional high school in Tortona. The activities were run exclusively online and based on digital interactive tools such as Mentimeter, quizzes and interactive questions to spur participants’ knowledge and curiosity about the EU, its history and values and the perceptions that young people have about it. The GamifyEU platform and new games were presented in all meetings by the facilitator, and then students and teachers were invited to register and play, as well as to use the game for their classes and programs on citizenship education. This not only helped the achievement of the project objectives on a short-term basis, but also created a long-term effect by ensuring that young people would keep analysing and discussing these topics. During the digital workshops held in schools between January and March, inputs from the young people on what they considered the major challenges for the European Union were collected. This allowed the identification of some key challenges/issues, such as 1) migrations and integration, 2) environment and sustainability, and 3) democracy and citizenship. By consulting young people, local teachers and through the creation of a working group composed of volunteers in charge of researching these topics, a “EU Library” was created and will be permanently available at the Tortona Youth Centre for schools, students, and young people to consult and get informed. Further, a QR Code sticker redirecting users to the GamifyEU platform has been placed on all the volumes of the EU Library, so that beneficiaries can be pushed to access the game and register. The content of the EU Library was not previously available at the local public library and this initiative was a way to make the project objectives sustainable over time.
The official inauguration of the EU Library will be held in September 2021, due to the COVID-19 restrictions, but there are already students using the resources provided by this initiative. This initiative targeted young people aged between 14 and 30 years old, schoolteachers, La Fenice volunteers and the local community. In March 2021, there was a series of focus groups with volunteers and youth group from La Fenice (about 20 people aged between 17 and 35 years old), to brainstorm, explore, and discuss the eleven EU Youth Goals, and later worked with a local artist to create a set of images and scenes representing each of the goals. As a result, a graffiti wall was created, which will be accompanied by a plaque explaining what the EU Youth Goals and GamifyEU are. The plaque will also have a QR Code redirecting to the Gamify platform and games. It will be a very visible and tangible result of the project, reminding the local community of what the EU is doing and promoting for young people. Lastly, in March 2021, the EU Digital Cineforum was organized.
This initiative is based on the results gathered during the Digital Workshops held between January and March 2021 and involved the creation of a digital initiative to spread awareness on the topic of migration routes leading to Europe, European borders and policies on migrations, integration processes of refugees and migrants in Europe and the role the EU is playing in this context. Specifically, the EU Digital Cineforum started as a weekly digital “documentary festival”, with ten titles available online for the participants of the event/festival. Small group viewings were also organized for La Fenice volunteers to watch the movie together and debrief afterwards. The initiative was quite successful and is currently being prolonged, with several people outside of the organization and community joining the digital screening of the documentaries. Finally, this initiative was also accompanied by a QR Code redirecting people to the GamifyEU platform, which was placed on the newsletters sent to subscribers with the links to access the documentaries online.
Interviews at the local radio and articles for local newspapers were used as a way to disseminate GamifyEU Project information, objectives and its outcomes. More specifically, Federico Bruni and Dejvi Glina had an interview with the local radio where they talked about the project and described the different steps, in particular concerning local activities and interventions in the schools. Giulia Annibaletti was also interviewed at the local radio. Giulia Annibaletti was also interviewed at the local radio. European Parliamentary Elections were discussed with the participation of 5 young italian professionals working in Brussels for European Institutions and other stakeholders relevant in shaping European policies. The engagement of the local media had as a result a total outreach of around 8000 people.
During February 2019 several face to face introductory meetings were held aiming at presenting the project, the activities foreseen and the GamifyEU platform which however was not usable yet. More specifically, around 10 teachers and headmasters of local schools were met in order to share the insights of the project and shape together the workshops and activities to be implemented in the classes. Introductory meetings were also held with 5 Representatives of the Public Administration, namely the Youth Policies and Educational Services office, the Mayor and the “Alderman” for Youth Policies as well as with approximately 60 volunteers aged between 15 and 34 years of the National Civic Service and La Fenice. With the GamifyEU platform being later accessible, a presentation of the project to volunteers of the National Civic Service reaching out to approximately 30 young people aged between 19 and 28 years was repeated in February 2020. Another meeting with the volunteers of the new National Civic Service Volunteers was set up for May 2021.
Volunteers of La Fenice were also approached again in April 2020 with a series of online training sessions. The training was focused on becoming “youth leaders” and acquiring practical skills and knowledge on several topics that could be used for peer-to-peer activities and workshops with young people. Among these, the GamifyEU platform was presented and the group was trained on using it and on addressing topics connected to European citizenship and values. La Fenice returned to schools but this time online, in May 2020 and in February 2021, as it presented the project and the platform, focusing on the importance of the gamification methodology, to the Istituto Marconi Carbone.
It was first presented to 20 students during an internal activity of the school called PON and later to 10 students engaging in the shared project “YoutHelp” aimed at supporting students mostly with migrant background in their homework. Gadgets were given to all young people attending the project, to encourage them to keep following both GamifyEU and the YoutHelp initiative.
From February to April 2019, the project was also presented in other Erasmus Plus mobilities such as the Training Course “A+ Group Work” and the Youth Exchange “SHAM”, targeting young people aged between 16 and 30 years old from several European countries and reaching around 60 people. The platform was mentioned in all presentations and a small infopoint was set up to test the first version of the game.
During March to April the project was also presented to 10 representatives of the headquarters of “Stavolta Voto” (this time I’m voting) campaign in Milan, aged between 25 and 35 years old in order to obtain free gadgets and informative materials to use for stands and events in Tortona.
In summer 2019 the project was first presented at the yearly event of the local democratic party called “Festa Democratica” (Italy) where several informal meetings are held to discuss local and global issues accompanied by music, food, cultural happenings, etc. GamifyEU project was presented within an informal meeting dedicated to the EU and the perceptions of Italians, particularly of younger generations, towards the EU reaching approximately 30 representatives of the local community aged between 30 and 50 years old.
A GamifyEU stand was also set up at the “Tortona Summer Cup” organised by La Fenice youth group. More than 1000 young people attended this football event and it involved over 37 teams and 500 players. A GamifyEU stand was set in the premises of the football field providing information about the project and the EU. There was also the possibility through the 2 computers provided to test the GamifyEU platform and win one or more GamifyEU gadgets such as bags, water bottles, t-shirts, etc. Young people were also encouraged to play the games on their phones as well since the more levels players would play, the more chances they had to win. Through this initiative, approximately around 1000 young people aged between 14 and 23 were reached.
Similarly, a GamifyEU stand was set up during the Youth Centre Party held in July, contributing once more in reaching out also to people who are not necessarily already involved or engaged in topics and initiatives concerning the EU. The party was dedicated to the “creator” of Youth Policies and non-formal education projects in Tortona and around 150 people aged between 15 and 50 years old who had previously taken part in European projects and Erasmus Plus mobilities between 1990 and today were there. A computer position was also created where participants could play and challenge each other on the platform, but due to the logistics and nature of the event it was impossible to directly register people on the platform.
Following the same plan, there was also a GamifyEU stand providing information on the project and the EU, as well as the opportunity to register at the platform and play the games during the “Explosion Run” event held in September 2021. This event consists of a not- competitive race through the main streets in town till the centre of the local public park, on the top of a small hill. The stand was situated in one of the main squares, where the departure of the race was set up, since people could visit it while waiting for the race to start. The audience reached through this stand was very diverse and it included approximately 100 young people aged between 14 and 25 and kids aged between 8 to 13, 6 refugees who also helped out with the implementation of activity and parents who were also involved in testing the platform.
In February 2020, La Fenice started setting up a European info point at the youth centre, with the support of ESC volunteers. The plan was to provide the users of the Youth Centre with constant information concerning GamifyEU as well as any mobility, job, training or learning opportunity in the EU and relevant Erasmus Plus projects implemented by La Fenice. Materials were started being collected in order to prepare the “physical” infopoint at the Youth Centre, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic the InfoPoint is kept on hold.
During the 2020 summer workshops of La Fenice young people attending the activities were given GamifyEU gadgets and info sheets, inviting them to get to know more about the project and to access the platform to play the game.
In November 2020, a partner organization of La Fenice called “Cultura e Sviluppo” from Alessandria, invited La Fenice to run a series of training workshops addressed to a group of around 20 young people and volunteers aged between 17 and 30. The main topic of the training sessions were European citizenship, European institutions and the opportunities the EU offers to young people. The project was therefore presented as a best practice and the
platform was underlined as a tool for young people to further explore the topics. Gadgets were also given to Cultura e Sviluppo in order to share them with the participants of the training.
As a follow up of the digital youth exchange held in November, a series of online sessions was set up aiming at further exploring the GamifyEU platform and at providing the participants who came from all over Italy with the appropriate tools and suggestions to organize small activities in their own contexts. The 12 participants aged between 18 and 25 years old also received a set of GamifyEU gadgets at home.