We made it – finally! It took a lot of time, courage, patience and (online) meetings, so welcome to the 2nd edition of the European Academy on Youth Work! – these were the first opening words of the Academy event!
After three years we are back to where it all began – in Kranjska Gora! Since then we have been thinking and innovating what the EAYW is, what it wants to be and which effects it wants to bring to the international youth work community. Also, in this period we have moved from an Academy of Products to an Academy of Processes – so we are offering a space for lots of thinking, reflecting, discussing, questioning and challenging the existing norms and realities of youth work!
The Academy was opened by the heads of the Slovenian and Italian National Agencies, Uroš Skrinar and Lucia Abbinante, presenting how strong cooperation is important for these kinds of projects. They also emphasized that youth work is a tool for youth to be part of the community, part of the new society that we are building.
Talking about youth – did you know that innovation should be implemented in cooperation with young people? This is one of the many foods for thoughts that was offered to the participants in the form of snapshots from the EAYW research about innovation in youth work, by Dragan Atanasov, Michelangelo Belletti and Federica Demicheli. During their research they developed and wrote down a first definition of innovation in youth work.
We understand innovation in youth work to mean demonstrated methodologies, practices, tools, ways of approaching target groups, or organisational models that have novel elements, that are upgrades of existing practices, or are completely new to the youth field or to a particular context, and that enable youth work to support young people to make changes and positively affect their lives, and/or contribute to a wider social change.
After the presentation about the Study on Innovation, the plenary was rounded up by Gary Pollock, Professor of Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University, who presented larger trends that are influencing youth work today. The presentation revisited predictions made in 2017 where researchers examined contemporary research on young people and developed a series of future looking trends, i.e. plausible ways in which various fields could develop in the future. Even though 2017 may not seem so long ago, because of all the events that took place and the unexpected problems we faced as a worldwide community, it seems like ages ago. During the presentation, we understood that most of the predicted trends actually happened, regardless of the different challenges! Participants also had the opportunity to reflect and assess themselves to what extent the predictions were accurate – or not. If you are interested to find out more, check it out in Gary’s presentation!
At the end of the day, participants found their own learning tribe, with whom they will be sharing their learning points and discuss the process of innovation.
We have just started with our journey with almost 150 participants from 38 countries! And this year, we have added another innovative element to the Academy – a hybrid version of many parts of the Academy’s programme, so participants can join live from the comfort of their couches. So, find your tribe and prepare for the rest of the week, the European Academy on Youth Work is here!
by Katra Kozinc, MOVIT