Cross-border symposium "Village looking for young initiatives!"

What role is there for young people in the Euregion Germany/Netherlands to keep their village vital? That was the central question during the fifth symposium of the Network Citizen-initiatives Europe on 11 October. The 90 participants were welcomed in the college Forstgarten in the town of Kleve (Germany). A group of 15 students from the school took part in the symposium, together with active young people and professionals from the border region. They were welcomed by the school director and the deputy mayor of Kleve. In a video message from State Secretary mister Raymond Knops, he gave the message "There is little more beautiful than young people who are concerned with the future of their village". In addition, he cited striking examples from his own home village. In a keynote speech, two researchers from the Arnhem Nijmegen University of Applied Sciences, sketched a picture of how young people in the border region value the quality of life in their village.

The participants then spread across a "market of initiatives". In 9 workshops and 5 activities on a Village-square, successful examples were presented of how young people are involved in their village. That varied from a Hackaton in the village of Weststellingwerf, a "sports battle between the 14 villages of the municipality Horst aan de Maas" to an Escape Room with Sustainability-puzzles in a truck of the province of Gelderland. Inspired by all these examples, all the young people present were asked to come up with ideas themselves. The winners of this "Battle of ideas" - Melina Hanhart and Kristin Langer of the Goethe Institute Amsterdam – will take part in the European Youth Parliament and the ERP in Candas/Spain on behalf of the LVKK. Melina and Kristin will take all the collected ideas with them in their suitcase.

The Dutch government wants to stimulate exchange of experiences across the border via Euregional youth events. We can conclude that exchange of experiences and ideas, how to engage young people in their villages, really took place in full in our event in Kleve.

Ben van Essen
Member of the Dutch-German Network Citizen-initiatives Europe

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