Recommendations for a better Europe
The following ideas and project recommendations were created by 40 young people aged 16-30 from all over Europe who participated in GamifyEU Ideathon, a 48-hour online event that took place from 26th – 28th March 2021, organised by YEU International and DYPALL Network. The participants were called through Zoom to answer this simple but with many responsibilities question: “what if you were in charge of the EU for 48 Hours?”
During these hours of gamification, workshops, inspiring speakers and a whole lot of fun, our participants were divided into 9 teams, each assigned a current EU topic based on the European Youth Goals for which they were guided in proposing a final project idea. With the support of facilitators, MIRO, as an interactive online tool and Discord, as a communication platform, the teams learned new things, developed an idea, prepared a pitch and competed with each other. IDEATHON constituted the last of a series of events taking place in the framework of GamifyEU.
Meaningful digital youth participation
Young people are underrepresented in decision-making processes which affect them although their engagement is crucial to democracy. Based on European Youth Goal 9: Space and Participation for All, we recommend the creation of an EU Youth Platform which will be led by young people targeting youth organisations, groups and representatives. It will constitute a youth-led open space to share content in various formats (inter alia: podcasts (linked to well-known platforms as Spotify), articles, videos, blog, visuals, gamification elements, polls, dialogues with decision-makers…) for all young people across Europe. Initially the platform will focus on the Youth Goals. One of the main purposes is to have a common tangible outcome that will survive between cycles, presidencies and EUYCs. The people in charge of the platform will be running it independently. An elected board/steering group made up of the people creating and running the platform will follow all the content and developments involved. The main objective will be to promote Youth Participation opportunities by providing an independent space that survives time and space in between EUYD Cycles. The Platform will provide space for feedback on the actions of each cycle: Political achievements, political impact, actions by NWGs/INGYOs and it will allow to strengthen synergies between INGYOs, Youth Councils and Governmental representatives.
For the preparation of the platform, a team needs to be created that will develop the webpage, visual identity, name, sections and content of the platform. The team can be a coalition between INGYOs, NYCs, NWGs and European Institutions. Finding human resources, potential funding, identifying cooperation partners and realising a promotional campaign will be the first actions taken. Conversations will be opened through Podcast format, inviting European stakeholders throughout the presidency to discuss Youth Goal 9 at hand. In those podcasts, youth representatives can also take part and debate between them on the right approach to take on each Youth Goal. The podcasts will also be accessible through other platforms like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google podcasts and others through an rss feed. Ideally the podcasts will also be on video format with subtitles for people with hearing impairments. A media area will be available for all youth organisations to take part in. Young people will have the possibility to send their articles and opinions onto the platform to share with others in order to receive feedback. Throughout the platform, information and news will also be shared from European media channels through conventions or agreements beforehand. A networking area is to be expected for young people to connect between them and even with various institutions that would also like to take part in the platform.
Around 2.192 million young people under 25 are currently unemployed in the EU and the consequences of the pandemic are still not fully evident. Young people are suffering from precarious and exploitative working conditions, discrimination in the labour market and the workplace and lack of information regarding job offers. Based on European Youth Goal 7: Quality Employment for All and in order to bridge the gap between the labour market and the youth, we recommend the launch of an online job fair called “Connect,Work – Become a better version of yourself”.The main focus of the event will be to address the unrealistic expectations of employers from young people’s skills when they try to enter the job market and the lack of the right competences / preparation offered via the formal education system.
For the preparation of the event there will be a call for sponsors and facilitators for the workshops. As a pilot of the project the event will last 3 days. The first day will include workshops and training for the sharpening of hard and soft skills needed for any individual who is looking for a job. Specialised invitations will be sent to HR managers, recruiting companies, youth organisations, universities and other relevant stakeholders that will be asked to participate in the job fair where they will have their own “online stand” through which they will be having direct communication with the interested individuals. A promotional campaign of the event will be conducted through social media with videos containing real life stories of successful youngsters and recruiting specialists presenting their experiences, giving advice and inviting the audience to the event. The utter objective is to create a website dedicated to the online job fair, containing a large database with the profiles and contact info of all the participants. By bringing together all the parts, the goal is to foster a pan-european network in order to keep connections alive between employers and potential candidates. Depending on the needs of the candidates and the feedback given by the participants the plan is to have the online job fair repeated regularly having a specialised thematic.
9 billion tons of litter end up in the ocean every year. People are not educated enough about the environmental challenges we face and the ways to prevent climate change. The need to raise awareness so that we develop a more sustainable lifestyle is higher than ever. We consume in a way that our environment can’t handle. Society needs to act against climate change and the growing environmental threats and everyone including young people has to start taking responsibility for their actions. Based on European Youth Goal 10: Sustainable Green Europe we recommend the realisation of a youth-led awareness raising campaign for sustainability. This will include lectures raising awareness about the consequences of littering and why it is harmful for the environment.
The lectures will be targeting the youth by creating a plan, producing a logo, finding partners and sponsors. By involving a wider audience of people a wider impact will be achieved. As a part of the campaign, clean-up days can be organized as a direct way to join the prevention of climate change by making our environment cleaner. The aim of the campaign is not only to raise awareness on the pollution of our current ecosystem through human activity, but also inform about how global warming specifically will affect the future of young people in nefarious ways. This is a twofold scope of action, as they’re both linked but also need to be addressed separately. The campaign will also aim to create and promote a culture of sustainability within the european community, having better consumption and recycling habits for the general well-being of our economy and production processes. There needs to be a clear view on how to produce enough for the society but most importantly how to consume effectively and efficiently to keep our harm towards the environment to a minimum.
How to make Europe more inclusive? – Based on European Youth Goal 3: Inclusive societies was not chosen by any of the participants and is therefore not include in the list
Gamification as a tool to approach young people
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the use of digital technologies in the out-of-school learning settings. Such non-formal education programmes have a potential to recognise and address young people’s digital skills and needs, which might be omitted at schools or at home. Gamification appeals to the wide range of young people and can easily spark their interest to get more involved by associating its content to positive feelings that gamification provides. Traditional means aren’t as motivating for the new generation and by using gamification we can reach out to youngsters and cause a change, on their terms. Aiming therefore at increasing youth participation, we recommend a Europe-wide gamified platform which will streamline various positive actions (positive habits such as reading books, cleaning up) with gamification concepts such as progression, stages and rewards.
The platform will be launched in all European countries by the cooperation of all European countries aiming at increasing the scope of the project so that more people get affected. This will take place by spreading awareness of gamification and using it to better one’s life and make it more fun. Marketing strategies used to spread the website will by virtue also spread the term of gamification, and more people will consider the option regardless of whether the website is used. The website itself will gather traction which in turn will leave more awareness to gamification. As the rewards can be used to create additional positive rewards such as planting 1 tree, the platform will indirectly also be influencing ecology around Europe. The platform will first be locally/regionally promoted targeting local users. Creating a demo website will encapsulate the essence and it will gradually gain more users globally. Finally there will be space for feedback so that the website gets adapted based on the flow and changes requested.
Education is the key for active citizenship, inclusive society and employability and we need to ensure truly equal and universal access to quality learning. Our world can’t function without education, which drastically has changed due to COVID-19 pandemic. There is a need to rethink our educational system to make it effective in new learning conditions. It is important to motivate young people to continue learning as it is not always easy in times of online education. Based on European Youth Goal 8: Quality Learning, we recommend the organisation of an online event for exchange and learning new practices and perspectives, called Studython.
The idea is to start making a change on a regional level and scale it after. Taking into account the statistics of closed schools in Europe, this action will be realised starting from the Balkan countries and Italy and then by considering the conditions, the implementation of the project will be moving to different world areas. The main focus will be to introduce practices and tools for learning that are adapted to the reality of online schooling within the pandemic. Studython will give students new insights and perspectives keeping them motivated in times of online education.
Equality of all genders
The participants of IDEATHON drew the dystopian image of reality that LGBTQI+ young people are facing. Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity discrimination still affects many young people in Europe. Based on European Youth Goal 2: Equality of all genders and the need to ensure equal opportunities and access to rights for all young people, we recommend the organisation of workshops in schools with teachers and students aiming at raising awareness about the issues that LGBTQI+ people are facing. A large-scale facebook live event in the format of an online living library with participants from all over Europe and the realisation of a campaign with celebrities as positive role models will contribute to the promotion of european values. Using non-formal education in a formal education setting will have a long term impact in breaking the stereotypes and stigma around LGBTQI+ people and would effectively combat ignorance, fear and hate.
The workshops will first be realised through a pilot project in three schools. It will be in an online format, targeting teachers and mentors. Special focus will be given on sports as this is a field where a great amount of gender-based discrimination and discrimination based on sexual oriantation takes place. The success of the pilot program in these 3 schools will have a multiplying effect and should be replicated to other countries in Europe.
Mental Health & Wellbeing
A significant and increasing number of young people across Europe are expressing their concern regarding health issues such as high stress, anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses amongst their peers. The pandemic brought uncertainty about young people’s future life and career which affects their mental health and it is an issue that should not be neglected. Feeling the increased societal pressure and expressing the need for affordable and accessible mental healthcare, we recommend the creation of a website targeting young European citizens and their families, whose mental condition has deteriorated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There, people will anonymously share their feelings, experiences and issues and based on the users feedback the utter goal is to create a Chatbot app which will contribute to providing free mental therapy sessions, available to youth anytime, anywhere. Young people will have the opportunity to talk about their issues in a safe space, where they will not be judged; a space in which privacy matters.
More specifically, the Chatbot will offer mental support to youth in the form of conversation and a simple connection to specialists. This will be realised through automated answers for mental health problems, as many young people might get intimidated by talking to a real person. There will however, be an option to talk to real specialists. More specifically the basic version of the Chatbot app will allow the connection with psychologists and psychiatrists from a user’s country. By adding machine learning features such as pattern recognition, automatic responses and suggestions, based on past replies of the users and the experts, the app will be self-sustaining.
Volunteers such as specialists to work pro bono and institutions to spread awareness are invited to contribute to the chatbot project. Building partnerships and raising grants will ensure the affordability of the app/website. The translation of the project in all European languages will also guarantee full accessibility. In order to make the website/app fully accessible we recommend their translation in all European languages. Building partnerships, using grants and the volunteering force will make the website and the app affordable/free.
Fighting fake news
Due to the immediate and direct accessibility to the mainstream media facilitated by the online tools and technology, information is spread at such a fast pace and in a so amplified way that unfiltered, false information reaches out to millions of users. Uncertainty and public fear are main features that spreaders of fake news can exploit and the COVID-19 pandemic has offered a fertile soil. The main problem is that it is not always easy to spot fake news and to distinguish them from facts. Considering that the main audience of online media and tools are young people, they become the first recipients of fake news so we need to ensure that they get adequately equipped in order to safely navigate the media landscape and be able to verify the accuracy and reliability of information. Based on Youth Goal 4: Information and Constructive Dialogue, we recommend the organisation of interactive activities mainly addressed to schools, libraries, youth centres and similar youth spaces. The main objective is to raise awareness about the threats of fake news, how to spot them, to understand their negative effects and how to fight them. Since fake news has real negative consequences leading to manipulation and the deconstruction of the values of democratic societies such as transparency and freedom of thought, it is important that we get access to fact-checked news to be able to use them as a resource in their peer education program for combating fake news.
Using gamification tools will make this learning process fun in order for it to have a greater impact on young people and for them to be open to it. This kind of project needs support from youth organisations, NGOs, public institutions and media. Pilot projects will be done in a school and then after the testing phase it will be upscaled. It works with peer education and multiplying effects, so every year, young people will train the new generation of youth to act as peer educators on the topic. Through this multiplying effect more and more people will have the skills to recognise fake news and combat misinformation.
Participation of young people from rural areas in European mobilities
Youth organisations and European youth programmes involve millions of young people to support their active citizenship and to develop their life skills. Europe is a continent filled with smaller villages. While many projects to improve the life of youngsters are funded by the EU each year, people from rural areas are less likely to take part in them even if they are the ones in bigger need. Based on European Youth Goal 11: Youth Organisations & European Programmes we recommend the creation of a mobile youth club. This project will address this problem, bringing the Erasmus + projects directly to the rural areas. The main objectives will be to motivate, engage and give a set of knowledge to the youngsters for future development, to inform young people in rural areas about Erasmus + opportunities and to include young people from isolated areas into European programs.
The mobile youth club will be moving around the rural areas, organizing activities and talking about the opportunities with the young people in rural areas.To plan the route, actual maps to reach the targeted villages will be created, seeking volunteers in each area. A web platform will be used as a supporting and promotional tool.