Tag: youth

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Investing in Youth: Why Civic Engagement Matters?

The decline in youth participation in politics points to a potential crisis for democracy. But can this crisis be avoided? Over the past two decades, attention has been focused on what many think is a crisis in youth civic and political engagement. This concern has been prompted by research evidence suggesting that younger voters participate less in national elections than older citizens. Additionally, there is the danger of declining voting rates among the young in one or another country over the years. Such developments are often taken as an early warning that the future health of democracy could be at risk. The concern is based on the proposition that political habits formed in youth condition lifelong patterns of political involvement; consequently, today’s disengaged youth would become tomorrow’s disengaged adults. Political and civic engagement manifest in varied forms other than electoral participation. Traditional modes of engagement include voting, working for political parties during elections, and urging others to vote.

On the other hand, there are non-traditional, dynamic modes of civic engagement: participating in demonstrations, protests, and marches; signing petitions, and contributing to political discussions using blogs and social media. In addition, civic actions such as community service, problem-solving programs, and fundraising for social causes provide another avenue of participation, which, though not political, is critical for community wellness and engagement. Diverse avenues provide young people various ways of contributing civically and politically as part of a broad spectrum of participation beyond the ballot box.

On the other hand, young people across various political systems often need more opportunities to actively engage and make an impact within the established political order. Not to mention possessing economic capital, a significant portion of young people worry about getting a job, while another significant portion is concerned about keeping their job. While grappling with these concerns, it isn’t easy to exist or turn towards mainstream politics. Even if they try to enter politics, the institutions and individuals dominant in mainstream politics need to “grant” young people space there so that they can exist in politics. We cannot enter mainstream politics and feel crushed under our country’s economic and political problems that affect our lives. Change is a mandatory way out for everyone, and I want to be one of the subjects of this change. This is where new methods and pathways begin to develop. These methods may emerge as reflections of difficulties, not requiring very robust and detailed planning. Through various youth formations and initiatives, young people practice organizing, advocacy, and demanding. These are individually very valuable internally, but at some point, we need to come together to be able to exert pressure. Coming together does not necessarily mean agreeing on everything. Just uniting on certain basic rights and freedoms is enough to create pressure. Building unity based on common basic desires is possible, and more than possible, it is necessary. The political value of youth as a voting potential has been “discovered.” Still, the real question is whether we should use this potential just for a slightly better status quo or ensure that changes break the power monopoly established political groups hold. What needs to happen is to fight for the necessary adjustments in the representation mechanism when change occurs. This will be a valuable gain for young people and all groups experiencing representation issues. We need to work to use the various practices we experience today to create pressure and force the system to change.

Also, the role of education in shaping young people’s civic engagement must be balanced. Schools that foster an environment where students can freely discuss ethical, social, civic, and political issues help cultivate a generation that is not only well-informed but also deeply engaged. Encouraging discussions around controversial topics and supporting students to express and listen to diverse opinions enriches their political interest, trust, and knowledge. Such educational practices increase the likelihood that students will participate in future elections.

Implementing democratic principles in schools, such as through student councils and representation in decision-making bodies, reinforces these lessons practically. This hands-on approach to democracy at a young age can significantly bolster student engagement.

Adopting a competence-based curriculum that emphasizes essential civic and political engagement skills is crucial in preparing students to be effective change-makers in society. Schools should concentrate on cultivating a deep understanding of politics, coupled with analytical and critical thinking skills, civic responsibility, and effective communication. These competencies are foundational for nurturing students into informed and autonomous participants in democracy.

Integrating innovative teaching methods such as cooperative learning, project-based learning, and service-learning can significantly enhance the acquisition of these vital competencies. These pedagogical strategies engage students actively and foster a practical understanding and application of their knowledge and skills in real-world settings. By embedding these competencies within the curriculum, educational institutions can empower students to actively engage in and positively impact their communities and the broader political landscape.

These competencies are crucial for local or national issues and equally vital for addressing global challenges like climate change, pollution, poverty, and human rights. In today’s interconnected world, fostering global-mindedness or a concern for humanity and the planet is essential. This global perspective is increasingly evident in young people’s civic actions, demonstrating their commitment to local communities and global well-being.

Contemporary research shows that young people with high levels of global-mindedness are more engaged in cultural exchanges, appreciate diversity, support global human rights, and participate in environmental conservation. Educational institutions are crucial in nurturing these traits by integrating global issues into their curricula, which helps students understand global challenges and the interdependence of communities.

In addition to traditional foreign language classes, schools should offer intercultural learning opportunities through student exchange programs, international video conferences, and collaborative online international learning projects. These experiences help students understand and respect cultural differences.

Schools must also encourage students to apply their global competencies in real-world contexts, such as service learning projects, internships with international organizations, or community projects with a global dimension. This helps students turn their academic knowledge into action and reinforces their roles as active global citizens.

In conclusion, the dynamic landscape of youth engagement presents many reasons for optimism. By effectively utilizing national education systems, we can bolster young people’s preparedness for active involvement in their local communities and on the global stage. This strategic enhancement of educational frameworks can nurture well-rounded global citizens ready to contribute positively to society.

BY BURAK BATUHAN KARAKUS

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Immigration CommitteeProjects

Hoops for Hope: Basketball school for immigrant and refugee youth begins

 

Our free basketball school we organised with the aim of making the lives of immigrant and refugee youth easier begins. The basketball school, which we initiated in order to facilitate the lives of migrant and refugee youth and contribute to their adaptation to the country, is starting. ‘Hoops for Hope: Empowering Refugee and Immigrant Youth Through Basketball’, we will provide basketball courses to 100 immigrant youth living in London for 10 months.

 

The project will start in July 2023 and end in May 2024, during which time participating young people will receive basketball training at least twice a month. 2-day basketball camp will be organised during the Human Rights week in December. All trainees will be offered meals on training days. In addition, travelling expenses and sportswear will be provided for a certain number of students who cannot afford it.

Hoops for Hope: Empowering Refugee and Immigrant Youth Through Basketball is a new project aimed at supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged youth immigrants living in Greater London. Our focus is on providing basketball sessions that will help them to overcome barriers to accessing relevant services, reducing social isolation, and improving their physical and mental well-being.

We have extensive experience working with immigrant communities and have observed that many youth immigrants are struggling with a lack of social interaction and sports activities, resulting in social isolation and health problems. Many of them are also facing financial constraints or a lack of connection with their community, which limits their ability to access relevant services and opportunities.

We have been helping vulnerable and poor asylum seekers and immigrants who contacted us to seek help upon their advocacy, community and social needs, and legal process. We observe that many immigrant youth are struggling with a lack of social interaction and sports activities. As a result, many are experiencing social isolation and health problems. We are receiving inquiries from their parents who would like to have opportunities for engaging in social activities such as sports and social gathering.

The project will run for 10 months starting in July 2023 and will consist of supervised basketball sessions and two intensive basketball camps during refugee and human rights weeks. Our focus is on serving youth immigrants from Greater London, especially those living in highly populated, diverse, deprived, and multi-religious parts of Enfield, Westminster, Haringey, Harrow, Barnet, and Brent.

The beneficiaries of our project will be youth immigrants who are facing social and economic challenges, including a lack of access to relevant services and opportunities for social interaction and sports activities. By participating in our basketball sessions, these youth immigrants will have the opportunity to improve their physical and mental well-being, make friends, and become more engaged with their local community.

The impact of our project will be significant, as it will help to reduce existing structural inequalities and future social issues for immigrant communities. By providing a safe and supportive environment for youth immigrants to participate in basketball, we aim to improve their self-esteem, confidence, and social skills, which will have positive ripple effects in their personal and professional lives.

Through this project, we also aim to promote social inclusion and foster a sense of community among youth immigrants living in Greater London. By connecting them with each other and with local resources, we hope to help them feel more integrated and supported, thus contributing to a more cohesive and resilient society.

 

Project Registration: “Hoops for Hope: Empowering Immigrant Youth Through Basketball

 

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