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Democracy through Dialogue not Conflict
Start date: Apr 1, 2015, End date: Sep 30, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Today’s societies of EaP countries are facing increasing inner divides and polarization, regarding their European-integration plans. This ensues in social exclusion, poverty and even emergence of separatist movements, which put the very integrity of countries at risk. One of the ways to tackle this is higher domestic and international youth cooperation and involvement in decision making process. To promote reforms that support this approach a project “Democracy through Dialogue not Conflict” will be hosted in Lithuania (August 24-31, 2014). This meeting between youth and policy makers is being implemented by organisations from countries where discords in the societies and resultant problems are relatively acute (Lithuania, Slovakia, Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and Italy). There will be 36 youth participants (6 per country | aged 18-30), with priority given to those coming from disadvantaged backgrounds and 4 decision makers/experts in the relevant fields involved in the action. The main objectives of the project is to: find out and foster good examples of international and domestic youth cooperation and work in rural and/or post-conflict areas; campaign for collaboration of youth NGOs and public institutions, as well as teach the key skills needed for that; propose reforms, regarding youth participation in the decision making processes, to the relevant policy makers across the involved countries and beyond. In the long run this would ensure a positive impact on both social divisions and the ensuing conflicts in the European level. The project also aims to help the participants grow professionally, keep them active, involve them in multi-cultural discussions, develop the spirit of volunteerism, enhance their communication skills and self-esteem. In order to achieve these goals, a range of non-formal learning methods and meetings with relevant decision makers will be carried out. The main activities will identify how can youth initiatives raise awareness of and tackle social disagreements, use innovative methods to teach the competences needed to for that, as well as create the means of promoting the corresponding reforms to the target groups. Involvement, creativity and initiative of all the participants will be encouraged throughout the activities, which will include: 1) interactive workshops, 2) discussions in a non-formal environment, 3) round-table meetings with policy makers, 4) country presentations on the topic, 5) visit to the local municipality, 6) application of art as a mean of non-formal education, 7) analysing relevant video material, 8) quizzes, 9) mini competitions, 10) specialized group exercises, games, 11) feedbacks, reflections, evaluations and much more. In order to facilitate integration of the participants: 12) cultural evenings, 13) energizers, 14) ice-breaking and socialising activities (e.g. speed dating) will also be organised. Since the project goal is to reach the public and to disseminate the results effectively: 15) video testimonials, 16) follow-up meetings and 17) an e-booklet will be prepared by all the participants. All of this will ensure that the project would induce a positive effect on the participants, organisations and the youth policy makers in regional, national and international levels. It is desired that the participants will not only improve a number of skills and competences, but will also get a chance to extend their social networks by meeting decision makers and professionals with significant expertise in the field. This all would prepare them to get involved in and contribute to the related private and public endeavours. The participating organisations would increase their knowledge on the matter and learn new non-formal education methods, all of which could then be used in their own future initiatives. At the same time, the project would help them grow internationally, increase public awareness of their actions and enhance their capacities of reaching the objectives of youth development. Impact on the youth policies is a key target of this structured dialogue. The expectation is to convey reforms at all the levels that would accept that: youth voice has to be heard when making associated decisions; and youth initiatives could effectively reduce social conflicts and facilitate inclusion, where conventional policies fail. In essence, this would strengthen cooperation with youth at its current form as much as facilitate new fresh ways of such engagements. To sum up, the project is anticipated to not only help the participating youth to enhance their skills and get involved in decision making, but to also facilitate a bigger regard of policies to youth cooperation and work as such in all of the participating countries; thus, creating long-term benefits. It is expected that a positive change will be induced through the prepared e-booklet and other resources/activities. All in all, we aspire to make the project’s results as tangible as possible.

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