The Youth Act! is an initiative of the Barcelona Youth Council, the International Civil Service of Catalonia and Pompeu Fabra University that began in 2021 in the city of Barcelona. The aim is to provide a platform for local youth to have an impact on the public policies of Barcelona City Council. The project was born after 50 young activists and 50 young academics met for the first time in a new initiative called Agora of 100. Together they developed a set of 30 policy proposals that could serve as a basis for the city of Barcelona to work on the following topics: feminism and LGTBI +; economic model and inequalities; climate emergency; educational models; democracy and the fight against authoritarianism; technological change; territorial model and mobility; human rights; anti-racism and decolonialism; culture as an engine of change. In November 2021, the organisers of Youth Act! hosted the first International conference “Youth Act! time to face common challenges” bringing together more than 30 activists from 20 different countries with the aim to exchange common challenges and solutions. The idea was to consolidate this type of international conference to allow young people in Barcelona to get to know and exchange knowledge with activists around the world.
How does it work?
Phase 1 - Impulse group: Twenty young people, half from academia and the other half activists from civil society, have prepared the debates in the first instance by selecting the priority challenges to be transferred to the Agora of 100.
Phase 2 - Agora of 100: Eighty young people have been added to the initial group, constituting the final set of 100 participants. They worked in thematic spaces in order to agree on three challenges and three proposals for priority solutions in each of them. The work of the ten final groups/panels has resulted in a total of thirty outstanding challenges and proposals.
- Device for showing a video
- Moderation cards
- Flipchart papers
- Participants discuss how they can find solutions to big social problems that they find in their everyday life.
- Participants identify issues and challenges important for their group.
- Participants discuss and share their opinions on issues that matter to them.
- Participants create social activities and/or projects to be implemented by the group or by the young people individually.
1. Introduction (5 min.)
Tell participants that today you will discuss big social challenges and the impact that they as individuals and as a small group can have on those issues.
2. Video (20 min.)
Say that first they will watch a video about Youth Act - a project that was developed in Catalonia. In this project, young activists and academics were discussing big social issues and possible ways that those issues could be tackled by authorities.
After watching the video, ask participants the following questions:
- What topics were discussed during the Youth Act! conference?
- What actions did the Youth Act! organisers take to make a change?
You can give participants more details about the event (see description of this innovation above).
3. Big challenges (30 min.)
Show the group a list of 6 big problems that our societies all around the world are facing at the moment:
- Climate crisis
- Gender inequality
- LGBTQ+ issues
- Authoritarian politics
- Economic inequality
Ask participants how they understand the meaning of each of these problems. Clarify the meaning if there is any confusion about how they should be interpreted.
Say that today they can choose what big problems they want to discuss - you will create up to 3 topic groups, with each group discussing a different topic.
Then, ask participants to think about which of these 6 problems are most important to them or which problems they would like to change in the first place. Put the names of the issues on different tables in the room and ask participants to stand next to an issue that is most important to them. Count which 3 problems gathered the most people and ask people from 3 other tables to join one of the most selected topics.
4. Know your issue (45 min.)
After creating topic groups, give each group a printed hand-out [Appendix 1].
Say that to find solutions for a problem they have to gain some knowledge about it. Ask them to discuss the problem that they have chosen and to focus on how this problem manifests in their lives. They should answer questions that are on the handouts and they should include every person’s perspective.
After 30 minutes, ask each group to share their answers. If something is too vague, ask questions and make sure that participants understand their topics.
5. Finding solutions (1,5 hour)
Tell participants that now is the time to think about solutions for these issues. Tell groups that their task now has 2 parts:
A. Discuss how you can engage in solving these issues. Come up with concrete solutions and divide the solutions into 3 categories:
- What can I do as an individual (e.g. change the way I do X, change how I treat Y)?
- What can we do as a small group (e.g. create an awareness campaign in our school, change something in our community)?
- How can we influence authorities (e.g. ask the school principal to do something, write a petition to the local government).
IMPORTANT! As a trainer/teacher try to guide participants to be as concrete as possible with their ideas. E.g. Instead of writing We will inform people about the climate crisis, participants can write We can paint posters about climate change and hang them in our school.
B. Create a Flipchart poster presenting your ideas. Make it nice and readable. Give groups 1,5 hour for these 2 tasks. During this time approach groups and check if they understand the task. If needed - give them some guidance.
6. Silent debate (30 min.)
Ask the groups to put their flipcharts on the tables. Give each participant post-it notes (at least as many as there are groups). Tell participants that their task is to approach different tables and read the proposals of other groups. Then, each person should write a note - a suggestion, thought, constructive criticism. After 20 minutes, ask the groups to go back to their original flipchart and read the notes from the other participants. They are allowed to do whatever they want with the suggestions - make some improvements to their original plans or decline them.
7. Summary (15 min.)
Congratulate groups on their hard work.
Ask the participants to raise their hands if they would like to transform their plans into real action. Encourage them to try with small steps and slowly move towards big ones. Say that it is up to them to choose what to do next. They can meet after the workshops and discuss these ideas. They can approach other groups and work together with them, or they can ask local NGOs for help. You can also come back to these topics during future meetings.