160 participants, 32 countries, 36 unique contributions.  Youth workers, educators, trainers, researchers, decision makers and practitioners all gathered at the first edition of the European Academy on Youth wWork. For the next 3 days, we will become trend and innovation explorers at the EAYW, which is an innovation in itself.

The idea for such an event started 10 years ago on a boat ride on the Danube, said Hans-Joachim Schild when presenting the story of the Academy.  And now it has become a reality. Janez Škulj, President of the governing board of the Slovenian National Agency – MOVIT, told us that symbolically, it is also a meeting of diverse cultures, taking place here in Kranjska Gora, close to the border of three countries.

We are all very eager to learn more about the current trends, good practices and developments in youth work, about innovation and digitalization. And digitalization is at the heart of the EAYW. Learning badges, which participants can obtain while participating in different activities at the Academy, a special app Lineupr, which will inform us on the Academy schedule, usage of tools such as Mentimeter, Actionbound etc. Digital is definitely becoming a synonym for youth work.

After we got the gist of the story, of all the developments before the creation of this first Academy, it was time for a brief getting to know each other and a key note speech by Maarten Leyts from Trendwolves. Youth work is and can be an answer to many challenges of today’s world. Maarten says that a problem can be seen as an opportunity for youth work. “It is important to observe the trends, to see the positive in what young people do and can do. We are working with a generation which is putting emotion into action, so I suppose it is also about grasping this and seeing it as an opportunity.  The youth of today say: I guess I am ok…. All the problems, news have become also visual”, says Marteen, so they are in our faces. It is important to study the trends of youth to do youth work.

Questions that will definitely stay with us for the next days are: What is really innovation?  Can we define youth work together (is it something we should brand and monetize, or can it perhaps be something different, something we will be able to imagine more after this event)?

So for the rest of the days, let’s be attentive explorers of innovation and trends, let’s network, exchange and let’s focus on the positive perspectives and think how we could even improve those perspectives, to create new systems together with the young people.

Enjoy the European Academy on Youth Work, either here with us in Kranjska Gora or online, at http://bit.do/eayw-live.