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Credits: Photovoice results of young participants from Sankt Johannis Bernburg, IEKEP, Action Jeunesse Pessac, YES Forum, ÖJAB, Jongerenwerk
The birth of a project
Youth work is all about inclusion, especially at the YES Forum. And although the past few years – even decades – have shown political education is more urgent than ever, it is an area in which inclusion remains a challenge. To guarantee the durability of modern democracies through their social cohesion, how can we build bridges between fragmented people, especially among youth?
This is the main concern behind the “Europe through young Eyes: Exchange, Explore, Exhibit” project. Europe3E will therefore experiment innovative methods to open political education to all youth. That is, ways to help young people engaging in the public debate, regardless of their difficulties.
With the involvement of youth workers and young people with fewer opportunities from different EU countries, Europe3E will especially explore the benefits of combining two youth work approaches. In the last few years, they were successfully – but independently – applied in two other projects:
- Creativity as an obstacle-free channel for youth expression: “Our Life. Our Voice” used creative peer-research methods to let young people in a situation of poverty express themselves about this issue. Europe3E will now focus on a different topic, EU politics, through the Photovoice method!
- Accessible & Inclusive Political Education through games: “YourEP” designed a political simulation of the European Parliament with young disadvantaged people to better fit their specific needs. Europe3E will build upon this method to make it even more accessible by combining “mock politics” with Photovoice!
To put it shortly, Europe3E will focus on a more personal level to engage those young people who we could not reach in earlier projects, and open the doors of political education even wider!
METHODS: AN INNOVATIVE COMBINATION
Two main youth work approaches will be experimented together through Europe3E, in order to unleash the potential of their synergy!
Photovoice: “Photos Voicing Our Individual and Collective Experience”
Photovoice is a method of reflection and reporting that gets messages across by using photographs. It helps everybody, regardless of their knowledge and skills on any topic, to express themselves by relying on their creativity, and harnessing it through a step-by-step method.
Participants take pictures: they use a camera to answer a research question, combining pictures with their own individual stories. They formulate answers from their own perspective. They discuss the messages they want to present and based on that the group makes a final selection of pictures representing the groups opinion and answer to the research questions. In this way the results – the pictures – of Photovoice are not one individual’s story, but rather a group’s message.
In Europe3E, Photovoice will be used to remove any obstacle to the young participants’ involvement:
- It will be a facilitation tool to let them lead their own learning path on the European Union: this way, no need to “fit” in a traditional classroom!
- It will be the channel for their collective self-expression: as a first step towards formulating policy recommendations, they will be able to creatively identify and express common areas of interest, concern and wishes in regard to their European citizenship.
Below are some early results of the Photovoice process!
Learning politics through games: a more personalized Political Simulation
To complete their learning experience on EU politics and guide young participants towards becoming their own youth advocates, Photovoice results will be complemented by a political simulation of the European Parliament.
Building upon the accessible & inclusive method developed through the previous YourEP project, Europe3E will open it to an even wider group thanks to the Photovoice method. For instance, Photovoice results will allow participants to explore potential themes for mock debates, while facilitating the learning of the basic knowledge which will help them stepping into the shoes of MEPs.
Thanks to Photovoice, the simulation of the European Parliament will therefore build upon themes broadly explored in a first phase to discuss and debate them in more details. This will help participants starting from a “vague idea” reflecting their interests and concerns, and formulating real policy recommendations reflecting their wishes for the future. Their future in the EU!
Credits: Pictures and snapshots of YourEP’s final results, which will be improved through Europe3E. Stay tuned, they will be replaced by Europe3E’s own results later on!
So Europe3E is all about innovating and experimenting through the combination and fine-tuning of creative youth work methods. Let’s not forget the actual, final objective: helping young people!
Here are the end results the Europe3E partnership is aiming to reach.
Beyond the Erasmus+ mumbo-jumbo, Europe3E will:
- Tie Europe with young peoples’ lives on a personal level;
- Interact with Europe in a creative and inclusive way by using the method of peer and photovoice research;
- Make Europe tangible by experiencing it through a simulation;
- Empower the participants to explore, research and share the influence of Europe locally and on a transnational level;
- Enable the participants to compile recommendations for EU policy and to present these to policy makers;
- Develop and publish strategies on how youth with fewer opportunities can be engaged with Europe on various levels.
But how, concretely?
Phase 1 – Exchange, Explore #1
From late-2019 to early 2021 – including some Covid-19-related delays in there – partners each recruited a small group of youngsters with fewer opportunities to be involved from the very start of the project, prepared and supported by youth workers.
A first Transnational Project Meeting, which included young participants too, laid the ground for the first phase of the project, which later focused on:
- Preparing young people on a personal level to participate in a European project through local meetings;
- Teaching young participants and partners the Photovoice method and the basics on the European Union to empower them for the following steps, through a Transnational Virtual Training in November 2020.
- Using the Photovoice method through local meetings to gather the creative results of each partner’s group, illustrating – literally – their common interests, concerns, wishes, questions about the European Union and their place in Europe.
Continuous online, small and easy-going activities reinforced the participants’ learning experience, and gave them a safe space to share their Photovoice results.
PHASE 2 – Explore #2
While the first phase focused on harnessing the power of the Photovoice method to the participants’ benefit, the second phase (throughout 2021) will use their Photovoice results – concretely, their artsy pictures – to personalize a political simulation of the European Union to their specific needs.
Participants will be prepared through local meetings to take part in a political simulation of the European Parliament: this is no easy challenge, so youth workers will make sure young participants are feeling comfortable! They will also reflect on how to build bridges between their own Photovoice results and the simulation.
One of these “bridges” will be to use the themes identified through Photovoice pictures to make the EP simulation about the participants’ interests and concerns in regard to their relation to the EU. “Draft EU laws” will be based on these themes, in such a way that, through the political simulation, young participants can debate and vote for a “mock EU law” stating their wishes for the future of the EU.
This will be, basically, a way to allow participants with no prior knowledge in EU politics and advocacy to write their own policy recommendations for politicians!
PHASE 3 – Sharing it all!
In other terms (the Erasmus+ dialect): dissemination! Partners will turn all results into concrete deliverables that can be handed to people who can benefit from this experiment in late 2021 and in the longer-term:
- Youth & Social Workers as well as their NGOs all over Europe;
- Politicians at all levels with a focus on local/regional decision-makers through Europe3E’s partners “field work” (e.g. Multiplier Events) and EU policy-makers through YES Forum’s expert outreach (i.e. Policy Event);
- More young people, of course!
Credits: YES Forum’s pictures and snapshots of various Europe3E events (TPM1, Online Training C1, TPM2)
PRODUCTS – INTELLECTUAL OUTPUTS
In Erasmus+ terms, Intellectual Outputs are concrete deliverables that ensure the long-lasting impact of a project. In our case, “IOs” will be about sharing the Europe3E methods, fine-tuned by our own experiments, as well as showing our young participants’ results to inspire others to try Photovoice and “mock politics” themselves!
Europe and me – Participatory Photovoice Research
This Intellectual Output will sum up the experiences during the implementation of the photovoice method in the European context of the “Europe3E” project. This ensures that not only the youth workers involved will learn how to use the photovoice method and thereby a new way to engage young people in the European project, this knowledge will also be available to a much larger group of stakeholders. The guide will encompass a “how to” part as well as showing the resulting images taken by the young participants.
How to involve all youth in the European project
This guide will be different and complementary to other existing materials, as it is aimed to be self-explanatory. It will encourage youth work practitioners to plan, facilitate and implement own simulations in order to create a free learning opportunity for young people, especially for those without prior knowledge and interest in politics and the European Union. Thus this output will contribute to activities encouraging young people to get involved socially and politically at local, national and EU level.
The Policy Recommendations are targeted at policy makers at local and EU level identifying what policy makers can do to encourage young people to explore the EU and to make their voices heard. The recommendations build on the process and results of the peer-research of the young people and the training activities, in particular the simulation game. These recommendation are crucial as they complement views and voices of young people who are not well organised and who are outside mainstream political dialogue procedures.
Credits: YES Forum’s snapshots of the “work-in-progress” draft deliverables.
More about the project
Europe3E is an Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership for Youth running from 2019 to 2021.
To reach its objectives, it involves experienced youth workers, accompanying small groups of young people with fewer opportunities, from 5 EU countries. For more details about our partners, click on their logos below!