"Youth Riders" Project

Overall objective: Through capacity building and cooperation in youth work and youth policy to contribute to integration and socio-economical development in Bulgaria-Serbia border region.

Specific objectives:

• To consolidate youth leaders and motivated professionals from “youth sector” from both countries through creation of a sustainable CBC network on the base of “Community of Practice” model;

• To create supporting environment for cooperation and to development youth sector through exchange of best practices and innovations in youth work;

• To encourage structural dialogue between young people, their organizations and decision makers for bettering the situation of young people in border areas.

The project supports creation of long term conditions for cooperation initiatives for and with young people, through capacity building in field of youth. It makes this also in cooperation, answering of concrete needs of young people and their organizations in the target border regions.

Project partners:

Association FREE YOUTH CENTRE – Vidin, Bulgaria (Lead partner)

Association for Development of Children and Youth - OPEN CLUB, Nis, Serbia

Association for Local Development KAMENICA, Nis, Serbia

Target groups:

Young leaders and youth workers from "youth sector" (youth and working with youth NGOs), decision makers in field of youth policy, from whole Bulgarian-Serbian border region.

Activities:

Activity 1: Research in Bulgaria

The research will be done in whole Bulgarian border region (10 cities/towns from all 6 districts) by 2 researchers, using common methodology with Serbian partner, developed by an experienced research leader.

The main aim of this activity is an overview of current situation and needs in the country/border region in field of youth activism and policy. The research will also support the process of mapping the existing resources for youth work, will promote project idea and will identify best practices and potential beneficiaries for further participation.

Concrete cities/towns will be selected according the methodology of research. The target respondents can be local and district authorities, responsible institutions and experts, youth workers, youth and working with youth NGOs, young people, etc.

The whole process of research will require on-line collaboration with Serbian site. The final report will be translated and will be accessible in both languages on the project web-site.

The result of this activity will be a report-analyse about current situation and identified needs in the border region in field of youth participation and policy, including:

• Public resources (policy papers: strategies, action plans, etc.; structures on all levels, scope of work, best practices or deficits in compliance with European practice);

• Youth sector - non-governmental youth and working with youth organizations, their real contribution, subsistence problems, methodical capacity, best practices (projects), needs, etc.

Activity 2: Research in Serbia

The research will be done in whole Serbian border region (10 cities/towns from all 7 districts) by 2 researchers, using common methodology with Bulgarian partner, developed by an experienced research leader. The main aim of this activity is an overview of current situation and needs in the country/border region in field of youth activism and policy. The research will also support the process of mapping the existing resources for youth work, will promote project idea and will identify best practices and potential beneficiaries for further participation.

Concrete cities/towns will be selected according the methodology of research. The target respondents can be local and district authorities, responsible institutions and experts, youth workers, youth and working with youth NGOs, young people, etc.

The whole process of research will require on-line collaboration with Bulgarian site. The final report will be translated and will be accessible in both languages on the project web-site.

The result of this activity will be a report-analyse about current situation and identified needs in the border region in field of youth participation and policy, including:

• Public resources (policy papers: strategies, action plans, etc.; structures on all levels, scope of work, best practices or deficits in compliance with European practice);

• Youth sector - non-governmental youth and working with youth organizations, their real contribution, subsistence problems, methodical capacity, best practices (projects), needs, etc.

Activity 3: Selection and preparation of "Youth Riders" (Bulgaria)

“Freedom Riders” were civil rights activists who rode interstate buses into the southern United States in 1961 to support desegregation and “wake up” local activism. Similar to them, “Youth Riders” will be one group of active young people, who will try to encourage and empower local youth sector in border area. Bulgarian part of this group (10 young people, 16-29 years old) will be selected by the LP as result of a competitive procedure from whole Bulgarian border area. After that they will past a joint training together with their Serbian peers to be prepared for "youth ride" (see activity 8). The training will be separated on two parts.

First part will be organized in Bulgaria (Vidin district) for 3 days on the topic “Youth Policy”. In the training will participate whole group of 20 "young riders" from Bulgaria and Serbia. A trainer and a co-trainer will be hired for the training, to ensure interactive ways of work with this relatively big group, as well as an interpreter.

Results of this activity will be:

• 10 young people selected for the Bulgarian part of “Youth Riders” group;

• 20 young people from Bulgaria and Serbia trained in “Youth Policy” and in this way prepared for implementation of activities 7 and 8.

Activity 4: Selection and preparation of "Youth Riders" (Serbia)

Serbian part of "Youth Riders" group (10 young people, 16-29 years old) will be selected by the PP2 as result of a competitive procedure from whole Serbian border area. After that they will past a joint training together with their Bulgarian peers to be prepared for "Youth Ride".

Second part of the training will be organized in Serbia (Nisava district) for 3 days on the topic “Public speaking and facilitation of working meetings”. In the training will participate again the whole group of 20 young people ("youth riders") from Bulgaria and Serbia. For the training one trainer and one co-trainer will be hired, to ensure interactive ways of work with this relatively big group, as well as an interpreter.

Results of this activity will be:

• 10 young people selected for the Serbian part of “Youth Riders” group;

• 20 young people from Bulgaria and Serbia trained in “Public speaking and facilitation of working meetings” and in this way prepared for implementation of activities 7 and 8.

Activity 5: Creation of Virtual Community of Practice (VCoP)

The project web-site will be a virtual tool which targets are:

• To provide access to materials created, to best practices (e.g. data-base of youth projects), and other relevant resources for youth development and activism;

• To offer a place for youth leaders and workers, nationally and internationally, to share experience during the project and after it;

• To disseminate the project results;

•  During the project implementation, the site will be also used to keep "memory" of the project progress, to provide necessary level of transparency and to promote the project, etc.

In this way site will incorporate a Community of Practice (CoP) to increase collaborative work and to share members’ experience (in CoP learning is seen as deriving from the social process of becoming a practitioner, as it gives the individual a social context of being an integrated part of a community). Virtual CoP is a very important part of project’s philosophy and will be integrated in whole network model.

Results of this activity will be:

• Virtual Community of Practice (VCoP) in youth work created;

• Data-base of profiles of min. 60 youth/working with youth NGOs and other relevant structures from whole border area created and published;

• Data-base of min. 60 successful projects and best practices in youth work created and published;

• The transparency and publicity of the project supported, etc.

Activity 6: Support for creation of Cross-border training camp

Besides virtual methodological tool (VCoP), the sustainability of the network includes also creation of its own training centre. At only 13 km from the downtown of the city of Nis, there is a favorite picnic site  – “Kamenički vis” with a devastated camp settlement which was not operational for the last 10 years. In mid-2015 the Association Kamenica (PP3) rented this camp for long-term use. The association is working on renovation of the camp, which can become a regional youth training centre - it is made by boungalows (chip alternative for accommodation), not away from a big city and from Bulgarian border, close to an international airport, etc.

The project's budget will support this process through creation of an important missing part – the training fasilities. An air-conditioned big tent will be purchased and equipped with 40 siting places. The tent can be used in all sesons. An interactive board will be also purchased for presentations.

The project budget will support purchase of big tent, wooden floor, air-conditioners, tables, chairs, electrical set and interactive board. The renovation of camp and installation of tent and other facilities will be done by PP3 own resources.

Activity 7: "Youth Ride" - Public discussions (Bulgaria)

This awareness raising campaign will take place in Bulgarian border region (cities of Vidin, Montana, Vratsa, Pernik and Kustendil). “Youth Ride” is a seria of one-day visits of these 5 Bulgarian cities during a week from SERBIAN part of youth activists’ group, previously selected and trained. The Serbian “riders” will be supported by their Bulgarian peers from concrete settlements, where public discussions will be organized. The focus on discussion will be situation of local youth sector and youth policy and how it can be improved to reach European quality standards. For participation in the forums local authorities and other stakeholders will be invited, as well as youth and working with youth organizations and media (min. 30 people total). In this way the local structured dialogue between youth organizations and decision makers will be enforced and youth sector empowered. The event will be used also for promotion of the VCoP as a networking tool and of whole cross-border network.

Results of this activity will be:

• Structural dialogue between youth organizations and local stakeholders/decision-makers in 5 cities  enforced – the discussions will not only describe actual situation and problems, but will generate decisions and obligations from the side of public authorities. The media will make this process visible;

• The research will be upgraded with new information about youth policy issues – problems, solutions, best practices, etc. The mapping of youth resources in border area also will be supported.

Activity 8: "Youth Ride" - Public discussions (Serbia)

The awareness raising campaign will take place in Serbian border region (cities of Bor, Zajecar, Nis, Pirot and Vranje). “Youth Ride” is a seria of one-day visits of listed above 5 Serbian cities during a week from BULGARIAN part of youth activists’ group, previously selected and trained. The Bulgarian “riders” will be supported by their Serbian peers from concrete settlements, where public discussions will be organized. The focus on discussion will be situation of local youth sector and youth policy and how it can be improved to reach European quality standards. For participation in the forums local authorities and other stakeholders will be invited, as well as youth and working with youth organizations and media (arround 30 people total). In this way the local structured dialogue between youth organizations and decision makers will be enforced and youth sector empowered. The event will be used also for promotion of the VCoP as a networking tool and of whole network.

Results of this activity will be:

• Structural dialogue between youth organizations and local stakeholders/decision-makers in 5 cities enforced – the discussions will not only describe actual situation and problems, but will generate decisions and obligations from the side of public authorities. The media will make this process visible;

• The research will be upgraded with new information about youth policy issues – problems, solutions, best practices, etc. The mapping of youth resources in border area also will be supported.

Activity 9: Training sessions (Bulgaria)

On the base of identified needs of youth organizations during the research activity and “Youth Ride”, two training sessions will be organized. The sessions will take place in border area with 16 young leaders and youth workers from Bulgarian target organizations (youth sector). Every training will be for 2 days on the topic, which will be determined additionally, but just for example we can mention: project planning, project management and implementation, organizing of events, advocacy, etc. The training must support youth organizations to be sustainable and effective in the efforts to bettering young people situation in their locations. Because the idea is to strengthening local youth sector, these training will be done separately, not jointly with Serbian partner. The training will be used also for promotion of VCoP.

The participants of the training will be selected by the respective partner on the base of applications from local youth NGOs. A geographical balance will be observed, but main criteria will be motivation of potential candidates.

Results of this activity will be:

• Minimum 16 young leaders and youth workers trained (it is possible some of trainees to participate in both training) in themes, which will support their work with and for young people;

• Whole youth sector from border area supported by development of its human resources.

Activity 10: Training sessions (Serbia)

On the base of identified needs of youth organizations during the research activity and “Youth Ride”, two training sessions will be organized. The sessions will take place in border area with 16 young leaders and youth workers from Serbian target organizations. Every training will be for 2 days on the topic, which will be determined additionally, just for example we can mention: project planning, project management and implementation, organizing of events, advocacy, etc. The training must support youth organizations to be sustainable and effective in their efforts to bettering young people situation. These training will be done also separately, not jointly. The training will be used for promotion of VCoP as well. 

The participants will be selected by the Serbian partners on the base of applications from local youth NGOs. A geographical balance will be observed, but main criteria will be motivation of candidates.

Results of this activity will be:

• Minimum 16 young leaders and youth workers trained (it is possible some of trainees to participate in both training) in themes, which will support their work with and for young people;

• Whole youth sector from border area supported by development of its human resources.

Activity 11: Cross-border leader camp

The cross-border leader camp is a conclusion event in the project, which will take place in the “Kamenički vis”, Serbia. In the camp will take part 40 representatives of youth sector from the border area (20 per country) – participants in the previous activities and others. The leadership camp will take 5 full days and will be divided on two parts:

• Training part: two training in parallel, 3 days each, on “Strategic planning” and “Advocacy and PR”. In every training will participate approximately a half of the whole group;

• Working part (Youth Summit, two days): on the base of the training and collected information from research and “youth ride”, the strategic planning of the youth network will be done, as well as policy recommendations to public authorities in two countries.

The summit will finish with a press conference in Nish for the local and national media, where the political declaration and other results of the project will be presented.

Results of this activity will be:

• Bulgarian-Serbian CBC network of youth NGOs established (founding document - Statute);

• 40 young leaders/workers trained in “Strategic planning” and “Advocacy and PR”;

• Political declaration adopted and disseminated with recommendations to public authorities in Bulgaria and Serbia how to improve youth policy to reach European standards;

• Youth camp promoted among members of youth network as a suitable place for training, meetings and recreation.

Activity 12: Publications

We plan to issue two publications in the end of the project – a collection for the experts in youth development and a brochure ("laymen" report) for the general public, to report the “Youth Riders” achievements.

The Collection will include main part of the project documents, such as for example: report of the research, data-base of the youth resources (contact information and short presentation description of youth/working with youth NGOs and other relevant structures in border region), examples of best practices (successful projects and initiatives), Statute of the network, Political declaration, etc. It will be disseminate among youth sector and stakeholders in both countries.

The brochure will include short description of the project and its achievements with photos and texts, as well as advertisement of youth camp and VCoP site. It will be disseminated among general public in Bulgaria and Serbia.

Both publications will be printed in Bulgarian and Serbian languages separately.

Results of this activity will be:

• 300 issues of Collection with project materials distributed to expert community;

• 600 issues of brochure about project achievements distributed to the general public in both countries.

• The CBC youth network, youth camp, and VCoP promoted.

Project budget:

148 128,40 euro (125 909,12 euro EU contribution, 10 221,60 euro Bulgarian state contribution, 11 997,68 euro own contribution)

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