Article by The Artist and The Others
Young people are the pillar of our future. In Maastricht, described as a “Student city” because of its great Universities and Academies, the younger slice of our society plays a significant role.
Nevertheless, the educational institutions in the city still need to include practical professional skills in the curricula. These are the tools that young people need when entering society as professionals. Through the Chlaydoscope Project, we have the unique opportunity to develop the frameworks which can convey these skills and help create leaders for future generations, alongside international and local partners.
At The Artist and the Others we base all of our projects on the profound importance of Art in Society, the benefit which can come with shared knowledge, and the urgent necessity of contrasting unequal and unsustainable structures of the art world through connections.
To maximise the outcomes of this project in Maastricht, we asked Code043 and Stichting Goed Volk (SGV) to join us with their knowledge and experience in the field of training and supporting youth.
Here you can learn more about their activities and the ideas behind their work.
Hoi Emmanuel and Charlene, you have been part of Stichting Goed Volk (SGV) since its foundation, could you tell us more about it? What is it, and what does it do for the youth of Maastricht?
The name says it all!… Well in Dutch at least.
Stichting Goed Volk (translates: Good People) is a foundation with good people doing good for people. The aim is to stimulate thinking, and doing and create mutual understanding. Right now, we are focusing on a project to create a social curricula – structuring workshops, tools and lessons from local youth, health and community organisations, so young people get all information in a structured way. Creating an environment where they now who can help them (if needed) and they get a chance to work on their self development.
Hello Mare, you are the Project leader at Code 043 (C043)? What are the goal and aims of Code043 and how it helps the Youth?
C043: Our goal for the Code Jongeren Support project is to give youth a chance to gain experience. I know this seems like a very vague and wide goal. We always begin with the questions: “what do you want? What do you want to learn? What do you want to try?…”. For this specific project, we provide a peer-to-peer coaching programme where young people (16-25) can learn how to pass on their own experience to other young people who might not have their (same) experiences in life. In December, there will be a pitch night where all young people (12-25) who connect with Maastricht can pitch their ideas to make their city a more vibrant place. If this idea is within the vision of CODE043, we can provide them with knowledge, a peer coach to guide them and financial support to make their idea become a reality.
Youth nowadays play a key role in society, especially for the future; what is their position in the city of Maastricht?
Most young people come and go in Maastricht. If you are raised here, you want to go to the big city. And if you are not from Maastricht, you probably here for just for the duration of your university course. So for young people who actually will stay, Maastricht is a city where you actively need to search for and build your opportunities.
This dynamicity is something the municipality is working on changing. So the city is on the right track to be more youth friendly, integrating them more at a policy level and such.
C043: Young people are the builders of the future. They can change the balance of demand in their environments. By giving power to young people, you are already shaping the future.
Are the younger generations aware of the power and impact that they can have in the future society?
On one side, we can see that younger generations are more aware of what is going on around them. But on the other, it seems to be overwhelming for them at times. However, they certainly do show their power when needed. As a generation but also as individuals. All the movements, #’s and hypes prove that.
C043: I think young people become more and more aware as they see other young people speaking up for what they believe in. At CODE043, we encourage young people to become empowered at their own pace.
From your perspective, what are the most fundamental skills necessary to be a Youth Leader nowadays?
A good mix of motivation and structure, I guess. Energy and enthusiasm are needed to move people and get things done, but (understanding) a good plan and patience make sure that it stays fun.
C043: From my experience coaching young people, passion and dedication for what they believe in are the most important factors. If they can convey their idea in a way that speaks to other like-minded young people, they are halfway there. And with dedication, they can experience, learn and grow.
How can we stimulate having more Youth Leaders? Do you think the city of Maastricht and its educational institutions are stimulating youth leadership?
Not everybody is a leader or wants to be a ‘youth leader’. So its very important to reach as many young people as possible and help them develop their skills, create opportunities and let them grow into being a ‘youth leader’.
I think there is a serious need for involved youth and youth leaders, so there are projects and policies that encourage this. It is still fairly new – in my opinion – so there is a lot to win.
C043: Leaders never become leaders overnight. If we can stimulate institutions to create chances to experience what it means to be part of a community, and to have a role with accountability, maybe a youth leader will find the courage to step up and become one.
How are Youth Leaders valued in Maastricht?
‘Youth leaders’ are very valued. There are not many ‘youth leaders’ running around but they can make a huge difference.
C043: I think ‘youth leaders’ are highly valued, especially among peers, because there is a recognition that they are up to something new and exciting and maybe improving the town for younger people.
What kind of Youth Leaders do we need today?
Today we need ‘youth leaders’ who create their own narrative, tell their own stories and be advocates of positive involvement so more young people get inspired by their peers, see the local change and benefit from it directly.
C043: For today, we need ‘youth leaders’ who are not afraid to build a safe space for their community. Young people are looking for a place to go that specifically matches their interests. A ‘youth leader’ needs provide them with a community where everybody can be themselves.
What kind of Youth Leaders do we need for tomorrow?
‘Youth leaders’ who lead by example so every generation has plenty of stories that represent a range of possibilities. This way of doing things should really become ‘the way we always do it’.
C043: For the future, we need a ‘youth leader’ who has not only a strong vision, but also a sustainable one. A community can only survive if the coming and going of youth stays at a balanced level.