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Speak Smart!
Start date: Aug 1, 2015, End date: Jul 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

In order to strengthen youngsters’ active participation, the Speak Smart! project promotes dialogue between youth and decision holders, teaches debate and discourse, and develops important social and life-skills of teenagers (such as debate and argumentation, critical thinking, creative problem solving, teamwork, etc.). Through various step-by-step events this one-year-long initiative involves high school students (aged between 14 and 19) into the open discussion and creative solution of meaningful social issues. As a result of the Speak Smart! project 25 youth clubs will be established all around in Hungary (Speak Smart Clubs), 50 consultation days will be implemented, and 1500 youngsters will be involved in the project-related activities, including an independent, youth-led research about local community problems. Besides fostering dialogue between youth and decision makers, the Speak Smart! project aims to offer professional support and training for teachers and youth workers, in order to train them as future initiators of similar structured dialogue projects. Youth empowerment still needs more attention in Hungary: young people’s involvement in public debates and social problem solving processes are still very low. In some of the local communities, not only the conditions of active participation are missing (there are no existing fora, models and good practices to build on), youngsters are in need of certain skills and knowledge (for instance: efficient communication, argumentation, awareness of social and public issues, etc.) which are necessary for them to participate in real community dialogue as equal partners. And sometimes even the motivation is missing: decision makers do not know how to contact the younger generation, and youngsters on the other hand simply don’t trust democratic institutions and their representatives, they think that their opinion is not valuable, they don’t believe they can have any influence on their own future. The aim of the Speak Smart! project is to change this pattern. With the help of the various methods of modern pedagogy, the project promotes the development of youngsters’ debate and communication skills. It improves their knowledge about social issues, it also helps youngsters to understand the complexity of social problems. It offers them the opportunity to get a better understanding about the decision-making processes of democratic institutions, as well as to become more committed to these institutions and the values they represent. Exactly 5 years ago DIA started its first structured dialogue initiative, called Raise Your Voice! In the past years we’ve organized dozens of school debate days and involved more than 4000 students into open and democratic discussions wit decision makers. These events proved to be effective in strengthening dialogue and also were important tools of the skills’ development of youth. However our Speak Smart! project reaches a next step and transcend the previous approach. On the first hand it activates students outside the school when it motivates them to research a problem relevant for the local community. And on the other hand it exceeds the framework of debate, since it aims to put more emphasis on finding solutions: in the project the students will learn about creative problem-solving methods (rooted in social innovation approaches). This presents the innovative factor of our initiative: students have rare opportunity in their school to experience and try out the role of real problem-solvers. Besides targeting youngsters, the project also incorporates the professional development of youth workers and teachers, and tries to raise more attention on the innovative tools of youth empowerment amongst the actors of the Hungarian youth sphere. The 3D project is strongly related to the European structured dialogue process: it aims to promote its overall goals and achievements. It is also part of the Hungarian consultation process. We will share the report about the consultations of the school debate days with the Structured Dialogue National Working Group in order to help the participants’ proposals and ideas reach the decision-makers on a broader, European level.
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