Wake Up Europe!
Current developments across Europe have raised worries about a destabilization of Europe: the rise of populist and nationalistic parties in a number of member states, who propagate Eurosceptic and illiberal policies, fears of terrorism and crime fueling xenophobic and islamophobic sentiments. A negative attitude towards refugees, migrations and integration is becoming normal. Racism, xenophobia & anti-Semitisms is growing. Also growing citizens’ alienation and disillusionment with mainstream politics is detectable, their feeling of being left out and a decreasing sense of empowerment is driving many people to lose faith in “the system”, toward extreme political choices and re-nationalisation. All over Europe trust in EU partners and its institutions has declined.
These developments show the immediate need for change: Citizens’ active participation becomes increasingly significant, they need to play an active role in democratic life and to fight for inclusive, cohesive and solidary societies. Therefore, education, training and youth work are key to promote common European values, foster social integration and enhance intercultural understanding and a sense of belonging to a community and to prevent violent radicalization (European Commission 2017). In order to cater to these needs, partners from 9 European countries have created the partnership “WAKE UP! Young Europeans becoming Change Makers for a better Europe”. We strongly believe that the engagement of youth is essential to achieve sustainable human development, and that young people can be the driver of change. Young people are an important part of European society, and as the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union emphasizes, it is important to encourage them to participate in the democratic life of Europe, and aim which is also a priority Erasmus+: Youth in Action programme. And young people are most likely to be mobilized, as polls revealed that when compared with older age groups, young people are less hostile to the EU, more tolerant of immigration, and more likely to feel that the EU had been successful in securing peace across the continent. And young people are already change makers in some areas, such as social media, blogging, online video and mass group protests – young people have a huge impact trough these channels of communications.
Our main target group is young people (16 – 25 years), including migrants, refugees and people from disadvantaged backgrounds). They should become active citizens and “makers of positive changes” at least on community level. Partners will support the capacity building of young people and youth workers/educators by developing new ways of outreach work and training for young people. They will develop a “Wake up!” training with several specific modules (e.g. political involvement, the promotion of European and democratic values, critical thinking, social inclusion) for youth workers/educators, and one peer-educator training on the same topics.
The project aims to have an impact in various ways: young people hear the “WAKE UP!” call, become more active and hopefully make a difference in a positive way. They will have an impact on society, as their own projects, initiatives, activities, and events will successfully tackle problems existing on local, regional, national or European level. Hopefully through their work, the PR work, and their active involvement, the ideas, opinions, solutions of young people will be heard by decision makers on local, national and international level and will matter. The potentially huge source of talent, innovation and energy for change of young people should be used more effectively in the future. It will lead to an improved quality in education, training and youth work in Europe, especially in the field of development of civic competences of young people. And all the young people involved will become agents of change for shaping our future for a better Europe!