"We are the vulnerable youngsters!"

In Sfantu Gheorghe, one of the four implementation sites of UPLIFT, there are two groups working in parallel on the Reflexive Policy Agenda, the vulnerable youth and the institutions and policy makers.

The members of the youngsters’ group were recruited through schools and local NGOs working with them. The project was advertised as an opportunity where the young people could share their point of view to local decision makers regarding the educational opportunities in the city.

The first meeting of the group was organized in the Autumn of 2020 and was led by two youth facilitators outside of the city, meaning that the youth facilitators did not know the young people and the young people did not know the facilitators. It was agreed via social media that the facilitators and the young people would meet at the entrance of the local school. The two facilitators were there a few minutes early and were scanning the area for young people, but didn’t see anyone at first. There were a few coming in the courtyard but it quickly became clear that they knew nothing about this meeting as they came for some other reasons!

Suddenly a group of joyful, laughing young men and women arrived, waving from a distance to the facilitators. When they were asked if they had come for the UPLIFT meeting, they laughingly said “Yes, we are the vulnerable youngsters.”

From the very first meeting, they brought a sense of belonging together and being joyful and open towards any initiative, and these have remained the characteristics of this group throughout their entire work so far. The members of the youngsters’ group are hard-working, engaged, are serious in their intentions, informal, and open to any new ideas. They are full of love and creativity, have big dreams, are honest and respectful and they don’t judge.

Although they face some personal challenges, they are determined to influence change and to become role models for the upcoming generations. In spite of their problems and sometimes marginalized situations, they are self confident and assertive.

The local organizing team of Sfantu Gheorghe is most confident about the fact that the local Reflexive Policy Agenda is in the best hands possible!