Increasing the civil activity of young people and their participation in democratic life is a problem that needs a solution at national and European level. Back in 2013 Eurobarometer published a study according to which 44% of young people between 15-30 years of age have not participated in activities of any organization during the last year. This is the percentage of young people who did not vote in the last three years at the local, regional or national level. Approximate is the percentage (43%) of those who do not know that MEPs are directly elected by the citizens of each of the EU Member States. It is namely these trends that united Bulgarian Youth Forum and non-governmental organizations from five countries (Macedonia, Spain, Turkey, Germany, Bulgaria, Romania), facing the same challenges, around the idea of creating and implementing youth exchange to contribute to the activating of youth in different democratic societies. “ACTIVate YOUrself” is organized by Bulgarian Youth Forum in partnership with 5 NGOs: Jugend, Bildung und Kultur (Germany), Asociacón Sociocultural y Recreativa Jiribillas 3.0 – ASCRJ 3.0 (Spain), Zdruzenie za volonterizam Volonterski Centar Skopje – VCS Skopje (Macedonia), Asociatia “Tineret pentru Dezvoltare Durabila” – ATDD (Romania), Ipekyolu International Youth and Art Association – IGESAD (Turkey). The youth exchange will be held from 20 to 28 June 2017 in Belogradchik, giving the opportunity to 30 young people from Bulgaria, Germany, Spain, Macedonia, Romania, Turkey to exchange experience and gain knowledge for active citizenship and inclusion of young people in democratic processes at local, national and European level. With the implementation of the project “ACTIVate YOUrself” the partner organizations aim to contribute to raising civic awareness of young people about the importance of their participation in social and political life at national and European level. By including young people from different parts of Europe, the exchange of experience and building on knowledge in the field of democratic processes and institutions will be achieved, the awareness of civic rights and responsibilities will raise. The participants will be encouraged to identify problems in their communities and develop an approach to deal with them by sharing best practices and experience through examples of active citizenship in different countries. With the project activities the necessary attention to the issue of diversity in active citizenship at European level will be given, while understanding the importance of social inclusion in a multicultural society. “ACTIVate YOUrself” includes a variety of role-playing, discussions, reflections, formal and informal meetings through which participants will gain important skills for their personal and professional growth as active citizens not only in their local communities, but also at European level. Through their future events, they will promote the project results of “ACTIVate YOUrself” and will help to spread its message to young people.
The implementation of “ACTIVate YOUrself” in Northwestern Bulgaria will add further moral dimension of the project. Due to the economic and social situation in the region, civic involvement of young people out there need a strong incentive and support. The project implementation itself in this part of Bulgaria will have a positive impact on young people there. In this regard, the project is a serious and important contribution to the exchange of experience and best practices with NGOs from different countries facing similar problems.