29 young individuals from the Project’s pilot municipalities in Georgia gathered on 1-3 August 2023 in Tbilisi to learn about the different ways to get involved in political decision-making in their municipalities. During the Council of Europe Youth Camp, which was for many of them a unique experience, they acquired knowledge about civil participation methodologiesand innovative youth participation practices in European countries.
A guest speaker from the Youth Agency introduced to the participants the Youth Policy of Georgia for 2020-2030 highlighting the opportunities for youth participation at local and national level. Moreover, a visit to the Parliament of Georgia allowed the youngsters to learn about the work of the Parliament and the opportunities for citizens to engage in parliamentary work.
During the 3-days Youth Camp, the young people, who were either members of an NGO or individual active young citizens, had the opportunity to develop solutions for different municipal issues by applying the “Uchange” game methodology and to explore advocacy techniques, with which they can make their voices heard in the community.
The Youth Camp, which also integrated elements of the Council of Europe information campaign “Change the scenario – play your role” combined interactive discussions, games, presentations and creative workshops to provide young people outside from the school and university context with necessary skills to actively engage themselves in local decision making. Moreover, the peer-to-peer learning experience allowed likeminded youngsters to interact with each other, share their knowledge, ideas and skills, and to build up new friendships and professional networks.
“During the youth camp I met with people who are trying to change the scenario for the better in their communities. The strong network of likeminded people from other municipalities creates perspectives for future cooperation among the youth to join forces to reach the goals. I would like to thank Council of Europe for this opportunity, and I believe that we are the generation who will build a better country, and we have to start with improving ourselves!” Mentioned one of the participants from Tbilisi.
“Uchange” game is one of the most interesting methodologies taught in the camp, it is a very useful tool for civil engagement. Also, it was very important that theoretical knowledge was supported by practical exercises and quizzes. The experience I made will be very beneficial to prepare initiatives and develop projects to change things in my community.” – said one of the participants from Borjomi municipality.
The youth camp took place in the framework of the project “Strengthening Participatory Democracy and Human Rights at Local Level in Georgia”, and was organised by the Directorate General of Democracy and Human Dignity, Division of Elections and Participatory Democracy within the Council of Europe Action Plan for Georgia 2020-2023 with the financial contribution of the Austrian Development Cooperation.