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YRDA has been awarded for special results in developing projects under Youth Programme

The best youth project from Romania, done in partnership


Established in 2001, the association developed an activity of financial support for children in need, broadening its activity field in 2004 through projects developed for youth from Gorj county together with partners from the country or abroad.

Youth & Regional Development Association Tineri, Taste si Condei
Forumul Tinerilor din Gorj


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· to promote the developing activity of creative capacity, the development of youth scientific, technical, artistic, cultural and intellectual creation;

· to develop educational programmes for children, youngsters and persons with special needs;

· to encourage the managerial abilities and organizational aptitudes among youngsters at local, national and international level;

· to protect disfavored children, especially the abandoned ones and those coming from numerous, single parent, poor or disorganized families;

· to support activities of protecting the environment through development of projects related to environmental protection together with other associations or authorities.

· to promote gender equalty;

· the association contribuate to the development of Romanian society through promoting youngsters, the values of democracy and the human wrights;



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Gorj Declaration on „Youth Participation”

September 18th – 25th 2005, Gorj/Romania

Starting from one of the objectives of European Youth Forum Work Plan 2005-2006 that aims to promote the active social and political participation of young people at the local, regional, national and international levels to reinforce the participatory role of youth organisations in society in generating active awareness of citizenship, more than 40 participants from 7 European countries met during the Multilateral Youth Exchange on Youth Participation “One Step for Future” in between 18th – 25th September 2005 in Targu Jiu, Motru, Ranca (Gorj), Romania. Young people involved in participation projects attended the meeting as well as youth workers and youth leaders from Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Belgium, as well as teachers, representatives of local and regional business sector, trade unions, Rroma youth NGOs representatives, local government officials and members of political bodies from Tg-Jiu and Motru and Gorj Youth Forum.

There is a need to have a youth generation involved in the life of their community, to act as representatives of civic society and as a changing wave, to spread new ideas around them, to incourage innovations, to participate in the decisional making process, to promote European values, to disseminate European programmes, to act as a good European citizen and finally to give a practical definition to this concept of „youth participation”.

All participants of the attending nations agreed that youth participation is important and required for a progressive and democratic Europe, however this has to be supported and a framework be provided. The starting point for youth participation is very different in the various countries, but there are comon information, skills, opportunities and support structures existing on different levels in all the countries.

For instance situation of the youth in Poland is improving continuously because of socio-economic changes supported by joining the European Union. Youth participation is encouraged by a number of programs sponsored by institutions on international, national and regional level. There are a lot of young people strongly motivated to realize their ideas and fulfill their dreams. However, increased organizational support is required to facilitate realizing the goals enumerated in the Declaration. Research conducted by members of the Polish team indicates undoubtedly that the Polish youth is eager for action but there is great need to strengthen organizational framework.

For instance Spain representatives belives that the main idea is education and the change of our mind is the solution for improving the life of youngsters.

We believe that the Belgian situation in the field of youth participation is rather good. Since the breakout of the Dutroux-case (one of the biggest pedophile-scandals in Europe - 1996), a lot of initiatives were taken to involve the youth in the public area. We sincerely hope that the governments of other countries will not wait for a Dutroux-scenario before implementing youth participation.

Altough the Belgian situation is good, we still see some gaps to be filled :

  1. Youth participation is set up at the regional (Flemish/Wallonian) level. The Belgian field of initiatives for youngsters is extended:

We still see two problems here: firstly, there is not a binding structure between the regional representatives. There is a lack of knowledge about the situation in the other region. This is a pity, because at some issues Flemish and Wallonian youth have the same interests (for example: public transport, social security…). Secondly, a lot of initiatives are made for youngsters, not by them. In most structures, adults decide what should be the policy towards youngsters.

  1. The structures for youth participation are established and officially function. But we have the idea that the voice of these structures aren’t equally valued as the voices of other public factors/interest groups (syndicats, business world, …). Instruments should be improved to ‘control’ whether the voice of youngsters is really heard and their proposals are at least taken into consideration.
  2. Among youngsters, there is a lack of knowledge of the possibilities to participate in the decision making process. We see a task for the government to promote these opportunities.
  3. In our experience, minorities (disabled, refugees, Muslims, Jews…) are not equally represented in the youth participation structures. Also women are under-represented. More measures should be taken to involve them. We should strive to make sure youth participation responsibles are respresentative for the complete population of youngsters.
  1. Opinion makers (politicians, media) draw a bad picture of youngsters. For example, young people are labelled as being a problem for the society, because they are just hanging around and causing inconvenience. Thereby, youth and youth workers are demotivated to take up an active role in the public life. We want these politicians and the media to show a complete picture of youngsters, showing both the good aspects as well as the bad aspects. They should aknowledge that young people do have a valuable input in the public domain.

In order to be successful, Bulgarian youth policy should be a continuation of the state policy towards children, integrate young people into the social and political processes in the country, as well as address their necessities and guarantee their rights.

It should be said, that the policy is founded on the specific characteristics and needs of the Bulgarian young people. So, we consider that the Gorj declaration should be based on the guidelines of the countries, participating in the meeting. What follows, are our proposals:

      The Turkish group belive that there should be an education system which will help the young to activate their imagination.

There should be cultural and sportive facilities in which the youth will be able to spend their leisure time efficiently and prevent young people from drug abuse, etc.

Romanian participants belive that the unemployment rate, the bad image of political parties, the “young” and inexperienced civil society, the inefficient and bureaucratic institutions etc, all these made the youngsters to look for a job abroad and to believe in the power of alcohol and drugs, as ways of living, and a model of life.

We believe that when we debate about youngsters ready to face the difficulties of the integration and the meanings of the concept of being a European citizen, first of all we should debate about the lack of action, the lack of involvement in the public sector, the slow influence regarding the public decisional making process. 

We consider important to have youngsters ready to act in the public sector, in politics, in administration, in NGOs etc. That is why all of us have this duty: to raise youngsters interest in participating. The basis of democracies in the world comes from this branch: “participating democracy”, which is a concept that we have to emphasis on every day.

The aim of our declaration on youth is to emphasise the need for the consciousness regarding the Involvment of youth generation in the community life.

There are different European papers and documents on youth participation (e.g. the “White paper: A new impetus for European Youth”, the “Council Resolution on common objectives for participation by and information for young people”) and all of them have as purpose to increase youth participation possibilities in the different countries.

This is also our goal. But, the most important issue that we discovered during the project is that local actors are very important when it comes about active youth participation. So, do not consider that the local government is unimportant or of less interest in developing the European Citizen. The problem is that usually those local actors are not open to youth initiatives or try to use youth in political interests.

For instance:

Despite all financial constraints and cuttings in other fields, the City of Oradea, Romania, has increased the budget for youth work up to 42000 Euro in the year 2005. There are also other Local and Couty Councils in Romania or abroad that have done the same, but there is still less interest from the authorities as well as from youth representatives and local actors.

The different backgrounds and activities that were represented in our meeting formed the variety of participants that led us to the position of presenting this declaration to political bodies in the European Union, hereby especially the European Commission, the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the national governments and the respective national ministries and institutions responsible for youth policy as well as to local government, that we, the youth generation, are supposed to influece day by day.

Its recommendations also address youth workers, youth organisations and young people all across Europe in an attempt to draw some cohesion between understanding, action and direction.

Thus, we identified some objectives to be followed:

I. Increase participation of young people in civic life in their local community;

II. Increase the cultural participation of young people;

III. Support the non formal education for youth as a basic tool to participate.

It is by following these objectives that our Declaration works towards some conclusions and recommendations on youth participation across Europe.

It is clearly evident that the starting point for youth participation is locally and based where young people are and live with their interests, issues and concerns. Participation and active citizenship needs to be based around opportunities to influence our practical environment, the local actors, daily life and to be supported at this level by those in political responsibility.

However, examples of the majority of the attending European countries showed that this aim is yet underdeveloped. Binding mechanisms are still lacking in most countries that assure the participation of young people or their representatives in issues and decisions that concerns them.

We therefore recommend the following aspects:

- That political bodies agree on the importance of youth participation;

- That we have to develop and promote tools for the inclusive and effective participation of youth;

- That we have to promote the participation of youth NGOs in the decision making process;

- That we have to promote a wider recognition of volunteering in youth NGOs;

- That guidelines on positive participation for adults and young people will be established and be given binding relevance;

- That we share the view that education, both basic literacy and skills-based education, is a pivotal issue in youth participation;

- That honesty, openness and transparency will be guiding principles in the dialogue between the actors;

- That Youth workers, teachers and politicians would improve/develop the skills to listen, empower and be open to young people participating;

- That training and coaching shall be provided and supported for young people especially on local as well as on regional and national level to build and further develop participation skills;

- That environments, structures and strategies are required to ensure that there are opportunities for exchange and dialogue;

- That schools, voluntary and statutory youth organisations, NGOs and Youth centres should all have the resources and provision for youth participation;

That schools promote diversified foreign language learning;

- That appropriate resources and investment are essential for the development of a sustainable youth participation infrastructure;

- That trained and experienced staff/coaches/facilitators and animators are required wherever young people want and need them;

- That specialists and youth participation workers would act as advisors and coaches to the decision makers;

In general, there is a low trust of the young people in the system, a pessimistic view on their real opportunities to influence political decisions within this system and a low self-confidence even if they have the skills, language and competence to act in the field of representative democracy.

Young people are not consulted in most countries from the beginning;

There is as well a lack of transparency and central decisions in the NGO field; volunteer and youth organisations have to take care of democratic structures and bottom-up approaches need to be adopted.

Our participants recommend the following possible solutions:

- To increase and improve youth information;

- To improve the education in the formal sector on political topics and democracy;

- To institutionalise (where not yet established) a frame-work of the youth policy in terms of youth laws, pacts, forums of youth NGOs, consulting system etc;

- To establish a culture of openness at the political level by:

-to opening political parties to young people;

-to raising awareness of politicians about the importance and benefits of youth participation;

-to consulting young people on their views;

- Institutionalise a system of youth consultation (e.g. youth advisory boards, parliamentary committee on youth, co-management bodies etc);

- Encourage selection guidelines in the youth councils and forums (geographical, gender, age, diversity);

- The development of educational programmes on diplomacy, lobbying, active citizenship;

- Establish participation networking among NGOs.

      We also belive that community involvement should also be recognised as an educational experience, and as a component of our curriculum. Quality education must be relevant to the timeframe and setting. All youth must receive fair and equal educational opportunities regardless of their additional support needs, whether this is due to learning, mental or physical disabilities.

In order to ensure the participation of young people a learning process that is accessible, inclusive of all and meaningful has to be developed.

      The learning process of participation aims to develop competences, attitudes, skills and knowledge.

Young people learning to participate can have a variety of venues: the family, school and the formal educational system, the vocational and job sector, peers, youth organisations and projects – and may also include many other informal opportunities.

      From the actions of the European Youth Program and the pilot projects for participation supported by the European Commission, a dynamic has been initiated and new initiatives have been developed at the local level in the field of non-formal and informal education to promote the active participation of young people. The differences lead to a lack of cohesion, understanding and sustainability.

      School is considered as the most ideal place where participation should be learned and experienced and this should start at an early age. Many schools though do not work with principles of youth participation.

We need to restructure our views of education to include a holistic and cross-cultural approach that emphasises empowerment and lifelong intergenerational learning. Academic and cultural exchange networks should be devised to promote international understanding between youths

Taking this into consideration the participants also recommend that:

- Best practices in this field have to be promoted and developed further;

- Information on youth participation opportunities is essential and therefore should be improved;

- Schools should open up for a more than representative youth participation as it works in most countries; it should start with the interests and motivation of young people

- The learning process is better achieved through the involvement of the young people and this can be done through: human rights education, coaching, training and experiential learning with their peers and adults;

- Co-operation initiated between different partners, especially between formal and non-formal structures has to be intensified.

To achieve these goals, political support is not sufficient and financial commitments and resources have to be provided.

We encourage Local Government and youth forums an councils as well as youth NGOs to develop youth policies based on the values of human rights.

Furthermore, we have agreed during this conference that participation is not a self-evident value. If participation is a fake; if it is a mere representation without a realistic impact on issues that matter for young people, it makes no sense. Even more, simulations of youth participation have a dangerous impact on what is as a result known as political apathy and a decrease of trust in democratic institutions and processes among young people.

We consider participation not a self functioning automatic instrument. It requests the effort both of the political sphere, the sphere of youth work and the young people itself.

To enable active and effective participation, politicians and local authorities are asked to implement “open structures of coordination”, which provide relevant impact for young people on issues of their concerns. In order to have youth work being a reliable partner for the political approach, the main players (youth organisations, youth forums or councils, youth participation structures, projects…) have to give up their competitive attitude of speaking exclusively for “the youth”. Of course this is based on the fight for limited financial resources and influence on youth policy. The participants to our project see the responsibility of these players to understand that none of them can alone cover the variety of youth interest and activities. On the side of young people we pled for their courage to speak up in their own language, for simply copying the given structures and for the acceptance that their own view on the world is not the only one that exists.

The participants to our multilateral exchange see the importance to gain awareness and consciousness of certain obstacles and traps of participation, taking advantage of research on youth participation and the evaluation of participation projects and innovative approaches.

Theoretical base, practical findings and methods, political instruments – all can be found on the many different levels from European Commission down to local youth policy.

Taking all these into consideration we belive that we have already done One Step for Future. And it’s just the beginning. Please wait fore more!

If you are interested in further information, please contact the organisers of the Multilateral Youth Exchange on Youth Participation “One Step for Future”: „Youth and Regional Dvelopment” Association, Tg-Jiu/Motru, Gorj, Romania.

Coordonator of the project: Catalin Cornea: