YOUth CARES!: YOUng Citizens Active and RESponsible

Program: Erasmus+ Key Action 1
Youth ExchangePartners: I Participate – Συμμετέχω – hosting organization (Greece), PAOLAB (Italy), Pozitiva Doma (Latvia), Asociacion Monitores para el tiempo libre Mar Antiguo (Spain) and NATURKULTUR EV (Germany)
Duration: January-December 2019

“Young people are not interested in society at all, and all that they do is to be on their mobile and social media all day.” Does this proposal seem familiar to you? Often, young people are accused of not being active citizens and not being interested in the local community and the environment in
which they live, as well as having no values, such as volunteering. Eurostat statistics show that young people 16-24 are the least active citizens on issues such as volunteering with 20.6% at EU level, or participation in the European elections with young people 18-24 having the largest proportion of abstaining.
According to the EU Youth Report, non-participation of young people occurs because young people feel that the impact of their participation is insignificant and they have lost their trust in politics, and they are looking for alternative ways to be active and participate. In addition, according to the report, the least active citizens are young people with fewer opportunities (long-term unemployed, young people living in remote areas, etc.) It is important to know that the concept of active citizenship, apart
from participation in elections, includes also actions such as volunteering, care for the environment as well as the offer and participate in the community. With climate change, alienation of people from
nature, and modern lifestyle, it is vital for a society to have active young citizens who care about their environment and community, volunteer and have a responsible attitude towards nature.
But how can we activate young people? A good opportunity might be to participate in an Erasmus + program as 95% of respondents said they had developed at least one active citizenship skill. Taking into consideration the above, young people from 5 different countries having participated in
youth exchanges in the past, we formed with the support of 5 organizations the idea of YOUth CARES !: YOUth Citizens Active and RESponsible, which is a 11 day youth exchange that will take place in Paranesti area of Drama, a mountainous remote area at the foot of the Rodopi Mountains from 28 / 6-8 / 7/2019 and aims to bring together young people from 5 different EU countries (Greece, Germany, Latvia, Italy, Spain) to get to know each other and work on the thematic theme of active citizenship of young people in terms of environmental protection, volunteering and active participation in their community. The purpose of the exchange is also to promote values such as solidarity, democracy, friendship and European values through activities of the project and intercultural dialogue. The reason why we chose Paranesti in Drama is that we want to give the opportunity to young people living in remote areas to get acquainted with the Erasmus + program, but also young people from abroad who come from urban centers to get to know a different part of Greece, to get in touch with nature and to develop a responsible attitude towards the environment.
Young people who will participate in the project are 35 young people(18-25) from the five countries and 10 leaders(without age limit) with some of them to be young people with fewer opportunities (long term unemployed and young people from inaccessible areas).

The objectives of our program are to:
• bring together young people and familiarize them with the experiential learning in nature which will help them develop skills that will enhance their active citizenship skills and their personal and professional development
• give young people the opportunity to understand the natural environment as part of the ecosystem and to develop a responsible attitude through environmental awareness
• support young people in their contact with different cultures, habits and lifestyles, notably through non-formal learning and peer learning
• encourage self-action, voluntary and participatory initiatives by young people through gaining of empirical knowledge and practical and critical thinking skills development
• enhance the dissemination of Erasmus + especially to young people with fewer opportunities (young people from remote areas, long term unemployed people) and its positive impact through information and non-formal/informal learning activities

For YOUth CARES! we have designed exclusively activities based on the principles of non-formal learning such as workshops, discussions, group work, role-playing and outdoor activities. At the end of YOUth CARES, young people will create an e-book of experiences on the active participation and environmental awareness of young people. Our long-term goal is to create a
sustainable network of active young people and youth organizations that will continue to work together in the future and to develop ideas for the promotion of a national-European youth network with vehicle the outdoor living and contact with the Nature which will lead to the development of
active citizens in a prosperous society.

Within the framework of the project the following ebook was created that presents the activities and the ideas behind the project.

Alternatively you can read it online in this link.