YOUNG CHANGE MAKERS: Empowering youth means accelerating change
IOM Bosnia and Herzegovina, within „Providing support to youth in local communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina“ project, designed the Community Dialogues and Grants methodology, to promote the interactive participation of youth in community-building work, by enhancing skills and supporting crucial partnerships.
By 2022, Community Dialogues have brought together young people with fewer opportunities and no experience in civic activism mostly youth without prior experience. IOM aims to build resilience on an individual and community level by strengthening young people's skills and enabling them to change, or at least initiate changes in community settings. More insight into their community initiatives since 2015 can be found here.
This year, Community Dialogues took another turn. Instead of having them separately in each community, as it was the case before, IOM decided to bring together youth from different communities to a single place, resulting in "Young Change Makers" (YCM) program with a slightly adjusted methodology.
After defining similar and common challenges and relevant trainings in the field of creating project proposals, youth developed four regional initiatives:
- Socio-economic hardships in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a pandemic, taboos and stigma around mental health, and a lack of relevant support were the reasons behind the initiative „Colourful Chaos“, which aims to promote mental health awareness and wellbeing and discuss early warning signs. With 146 participants, this initiative was carried out in Bileća, Čapljina, Jablanica and Mostar, through trainings, roundtable discussions, and street actions.
- Creating a space and opportunity for youth to present their creativity and be discovered by communities, was the motive for youth from Pale, Foča, Bugojno, Novi Travnik, and Zenica to develop the initiative “Create-Present!”. They organized creative bazaars in these 5 communities, followed by round table discussions on youth activism, and live music shows. In each community, local crafters were displaying their handicrafts, presenting different techniques and mediums for creating items and transforming their hobbies into small businesses. A project team consisting of youth from five communities was present in each community, which provided another valuable experience and brought the team closer together. This initiative engaged 200 young people.
- The lack of space for creative expression was also recognized and tackled by youth from Zavidovići and Brčko through the "Street Art Festival". The team developed an initiative that enabled their peers and children in both communities to learn about graffiti and street art in general and to create colorful pieces, both paintings and graffiti. Festival included 145 youth, children and parents.
- Cool Eco Fest in Bužim, Prijedor, and Cazin brought activities such as making eco-bricks, painting tote bags, and an open-air studio where participants discussed environmental topics. This was the opportunity for 62 young people to engage in activities regarding environmental protection.
Young Change Makers program provided trainings and mentorship for creating project proposals, motivated youth to advocate for the issues they care about and enabled youth to bring their concerns to the attention of the communities.
„Through implementing this initiative, we realized how important this practical part is. It is not enough to just write the project proposal. The fact that we implemented every activity gave us priceless experience, showing us potential omissions of the written project proposal.“ (project team member in Brčko).
„Thank you for waking up our city and organized activity that enabled our children to go out, socialize and be creative. I hope we will have more similar events.“ (parent in Brčko).
„I am really happy for having the opportunity to be part of this initiative. We showed that youth in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not that ignorant, as usually portreyed. If we are given a chance and support, we can do wonders.“ (project team member from Bugojno).
„Young people deserve promotion, and this (creative bazaars) can be a great way to do so, right? Bazaars could become traditional, recurring events. For example, they could be organized as part of International Youth Day activities. They definitely open up a space for thought, which is important because one activity should be an inspiration for the next ones.“ (volunteer from Bugojno).
„The most interesting part of this project for me was traveling to other communities, hanging out with my now friends, and meeting new people. I would probably never visit some of the cities that I've been to thanks to this project.“ (project team member from Foča).
The project „Providing support to youth in local communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina“ is financially supported by the Government of the United Kingdom and implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).