Achieving Tomorrow Today: A youth-led project on activism and positive change

by AYUDH Europe

With so many global challenges facing today’s youth - climate change, financial instability, a global pandemic and cultural clashes - AYUDH Europe felt compelled to come together while apart and ACT! They want change, and they want it now.

Achieving Tomorrow, Today was the project born from this desire. The goal is to compel and motivate this generation of young people and equip them with the right skills and tools to reach their goal. In a world where it is easy to feel alone and overwhelmed by life’s challenges, youth need to connect and come together to find their full potential. This will inspire a new generation of effective leaders who are engaged both in grassroots activism and on socio-political levels.

 Young people are naturally drawn to exploring their identities, and they strive to understand what contribution they can provide to the world. This is the key to discovering their potential, yet too often, young people are excluded and dismissed by society. Labelled as “naïve and inexperienced’”, they are usually not encouraged to participate in civic debate.

It’s often claimed that the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow. But we believe with the right tools and know-how, this generation can already be effective leaders and immediately leave a positive mark on the world. This project is the expression of such a belief.

The main goals are to engage, connect and empower young people to create a strong community of effective leaders and change makers. This is achieved by:

1. Fostering skills and leadership competencies in young people through workshops and youth-led civic actions in the field, as well as encouraging them to join and create collective initiatives to shape the change they want to see in society.

2. Hosting international platforms for the exchange of ideas, good practices, and projects that lead to the achievement of international policies and goals, such as the European Youth Goals and Sustainable Development Goals. This can happen by organising a series of online conferences and providing a framework to test solutions and ideas through local activities.

3. Exploring the environment’s cross-sectoral impact on the quality of life and supporting European Youth Goal #10 Sustainable Green Europe by engaging participants in debates and providing volunteer opportunities in this field. This will empower young people to act as agents for environmental development.

4. Strengthening our organizational capacity through the formation of a competent community of young European leaders and providing opportunities for involvement and participation in innovative projects and ideas.

Project Actions

ACT Today for a Better Tomorrow Summit
Jul 24-26, 2020

An online youth summit was organized to engage young people in talks, debates, workshops and more, bringing together a community of over 100 youth from all over Europe. We addressed several topics which followed in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protest in the US, including isolation, social discrimination, mental health and biases.

The summit was prepared through collaboration with experts across several fields to address these sensitive subjects. Support on the topics of mental health and isolation was received from:

Emma Kenny: renowned British psychologist and TV commentator who provides expert advice on a range of sensitive issues. Watch her session.

Arno Michaelis IV: an American who was once a white supremacist, but is now an activist who speaks about going beyond hatred to achieve noble qualities that engage all human beings. Watch his session.

Gabriella Wright: a renowned British actress, model and activist who advocates in particular for an end to violence against women and girls. Watch her session.

Tara Fox: clinical psychologist with the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault.

Joolz Lewis: a communications expert whose vision is a business world where purpose, passion and people are aligned for sustainable profit, lasting legacy and individual fulfilment at work.

National Action Weekends
Jul 31 - Aug 2, 2020

A series of national events were carried out simultaneously in France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands and Spain, while an online version was held by the UK group for the remaining countries. Throughout these retreats, youth engaged in hands-on activities, explored the European Youth Goals and debated about which of them they saw as most important for their communities. Participants collectively designed a project to address such needs and support the concrete achievement of the Youth Goal they found most relevant. Some of these projects were already implemented prior to the weekend, while others were initiated afterwards.

Achieving Environmental Change: Panel event
Sep 19, 2020

This was an online conference that included a panel discussion, working groups and talks in which the participants addressed environmental sustainability with experts and young activists from different backgrounds. The panel was conducted in collaboration with experts from different fields and organized by two marine scientists from the network for World Oceans Day, Eimear Stephenson and Darcie Anderson. Anderson is also a member of AYUDH Europe. Panel structure and discussion was moderated by Andrew Brennen, National Geographic Fellow and explorer.

44 youth-led local activities

Feb 1, 2020 - Oct 21, 2020

These initiatives were planned and carried out by participants and included a range of social actions, environmental initiatives and online interactive sessions to engage with youth across Europe during the Covid-19 national lockdowns. There were 333 young people who took part and 106 people directly benefited from the initiatives, including homeless people and members of local communities in need of support.

The global Covid-19 pandemic created many obstacles for this project and our AYUDH members embraced this challenge wholeheartedly with creativity, passion and flexibility. They worked harder than ever to ensure its success. Evaluation of the project has shown participants gained a greater understanding and appreciation of youth participation and increased their motivation for civic engagement. It also advanced their readiness to advocate for and take initiative in their own local communities.

The project was co-financed by the Erasmus+ YOUTH IN ACTION programme of the European Union

Photo 1: ”In tolerance, your enemy is your best teacher. They teach you how you should not be.”

Photo 2: With strict lockdowns in Europe throughout the year, many of the AYUDH gatherings took place in the virtual world.

Photo 3: A new and calmer context for the word “stop”.

Photo 4: Love underpins all that brings unity to the world, regardless of the external settings.

Photo 5: Care for others is based on true self-care.

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