The last day of the Academy started a bit differently. Not only did people arrive for the morning plenary opening, but with them their suitcases and backpacks, reminding everybody that it was slowly time to say goodbye. 

But before the final hugs and wishes for safe (preferably green) travels, there were a few more moments for us to share together. 

The first of them was looking at the resources that we can divide in two main groups: resources inside ourselves and resources from outside. The second one could be quite obvious (but still, do you know alllllllllll or at least some of the resources already available for the community?), but we often forget what already exists within ourselves. We shall not forget to water these valuables. 

There was also the chance to go to Forum format for the last time. Six contributors shared with the participants different Resources for supporting innovation and quality in youth work. Since the groups were smaller, there was plenty of space for discussions, focusing not only on the resources but also on several points that arose during the past days. One of the most important realisations that came out of the smaller groups, is, I think, that Innovation is not a goal by itself, but it’s the process that has the biggest value. It’s the process that we want to promote. 

Looking back and looking forward

The preliminary conclusions were not made only by participants, but especially by Academy rapporteur Boško Stankovski, who shared insights from the questions explored during the Academy, stating that European Academy on Youth Work is a unique event in youth work on European and probably also on a global level. We share with you some of the preliminary conclusions from the Academy, but don’t worry, a more detailed Final Report is coming in the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

– Innovation is neither a linear process nor does it exist in a vacuum.
– Innovation is not a new concept in youth work: youth workers innovate all the time.
– The end purpose of youth work remains the same, it is the methods that change. 
– Innovation comes naturally when the right triggers and conditions overlap, it cannot be forced.
– Existing youth policies do not always foster innovation. 
– Existing funding schemes and structures often do not create and sustain innovation.
– Youth workers might have a creative mindset, but it is difficult to develop innovation when there is no safety net to try new ideas.
– Innovation happens through a trial and error process. It is alright to fail and failure should not be scrutinised. 
– Learning from your own mistakes and taking time to self-reflect is instrumental for the innovation process.
– Using an evidence-based approach allows targeted actions. 
– Using new tools and methods enables assessing future trends.
– Using a co-creative approach with young people offers insights, new methodological approaches and ensures sustainability. 
– Digital is not by default innovative, but it is a reality and offers many new opportunities that can be used. 
– Try to reach target groups in their own space instead of bringing them to your own!
– Create partnerships with young people, formal and informal groups and other organisations! 
– Exchange ideas, implement other practices, but be always aware of the local context. 

Community is the Curriculum 

The meaning that we learn from each other could sum up some of the final words from participants, sharing their impression of the past few days.

Before officially closing the event, we welcomed Jacob Kornbeck, Policy Officer at the European Commision, Youth Unit, who shared his thoughts about the Academy, Jan Lai, member of the EAYW Advisory Board and Sonja Mitter Škulj, EAYW coordinator, who was responsible for the amazing event that we had pleasure to be a part of, thanking everyone who had been involved in every manner possible and closing the event with a big applause. 

Thank you and hope to see you in 2024! 

To leave you with a thought that might give you some sleepless nights 😛 It’s from a Dinosaur at the event “Why Innovation? The World is fine as it is!”

Is it? Is it really? 

Let’s try to change our mindset towards innovation. No pressure, it’s a process.  

Katra Kozinc, Movit