Athena and youth empowerment

What is youth empowerment? Wikipedia states that it is an attitudinal, structural and cultural process, where young people gain the ability and authority to take decisions and are given the opportunity to implement change, bringing innovation into organisations.
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CISV programmes and activities have exactly these characteristic, they progressively empower youth. CISV itself is alive thanks to the thousands of young volunteers that everyday commit to its mission, educating and inspiring for peace.
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At CISV Norway we strongly believe that youth empowerment is the way to guarantee the creation of a sustainable leadership. Leadership is something to nurture, for this reason we need to create the right opportunities for youth. It would just make no sense to first segregate them in "organisational playgrounds" and then expect that, all of a sudden, they develop the skills that are necessary to take charge and most of all to make good use of power.
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The OnBoard project follows this thread. Its main outcome was precisely to empower youth, first by providing them with new skills and knowledge  (among the others creativity techniques, teamwork skills, game development and project management skills) and then by giving them a chance to put them into practice for the creation of a board game.
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So after we selected the team (in collaboration with the Junior Committee of CISV Norway), we provided them with motivation and tools to learn how to self-organise and take responsibilities, so that they could experience how is to take decisions, test solutions and learn from mistakes…the true essence of “learning by doing”.
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One step at a time, so that our presence as facilitators could still be noticed  ( and our help sought, if needed), Asia and I decided to sit back and enjoy the view, so that the team could be in the frontline when making decisions and, meeting by meeting, start taking ownership of the project.
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The OnBoard team has learnt new skills - and the competences they developed will always be in their pockets in the future -, in the meantime the organisation has learnt with them: CISV as a whole has become stronger, also because a lot of people were involved. The team tested the prototype in multiple occasions: at the National Junior Camp, at the Landsmøte, at the first CISV Global Conference, at NEO, during a cabin trip of the Oslo&Akershus Chapter, during a Junior camp in Sweden and even at a seminar with Aktiv Ungdom, the norwegian branch of the Youth In Action programme. As I am writing, Athena is in production and next month we will see the first boards being set up, from Kristiansand to Tromsø. Soon we will gather with the team to talk about our next step, a worldwide distribution of the game.
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Session participants, Norwegian CISV Chapters and in general all the people that contributed should be proud of this big achievement. We are very thankful for their help and we really feel they have a huge merit - so we hope they also feel ownership of this project too.
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By empowering youth, by giving them opportunities and helping them develop abilities, we have grown with them. People of their age are the leaders of tomorrow, the ones that have the legacy, this is why we should make room for them in the present. When young people are given the opportunity, they can really create amazing things.
-Fiocco

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