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According to the Youth Act, children and young people must have their voices heard in matters which affect them. In Oulu, this is carried out through, for example, the youth council's work.
In Oulu, children and young people have 15 of their own local participation groups; one in each Oulu sub-area. The groups consist of representatives from the schools and youth centres of each area. Every group has its own council guide and coach from the Youth Services who support and guide the local participation groups in their operations.
Through the local participation groups, children and young people have opportunities to influence matters they find important, such as the comfortability of schools or city regions. Children and the young have also had the possibility to comment on various topics.
See the list of Local participation groups (in Finnish)
The City Youth Council (ONE) for people aged between 15–19 years started its work in 2010. It consists of 24 biennially elected members and operates alongside the regional youth councils with the whole city as its area of responsibility. ONE is politically and religiously independent and its purpose is to improve the well-being of residents under the age of 29, follow local decision-making, and act as a mouthpiece for the local children and the young.
Everyone can contact the City Youth Council about matter one finds important or problematic. Additionally, through ONE, it is possible to apply for funding to various projects.
Members of the City Youth Council ONE (in Finnish)
A city meeting is where children and young people meet annually to decide together upon the suggested motions prepared at schools, at student union's board meetings, and by the regional youth councils. The city meeting is one of the participatory methods in the City of Oulu and coordinated by the Youth Services. The body of representatives in the meetings consists of the City Youth Council and the chosen members from the Regional Youth Councils.
UNICEF has given the City of Oulu the Child-Friendly City (CFC) Recognition. A Child-Friendly City is, among other things, a city or municipality where children can express their opinions and influence decisions that affect them.
Lapsiystävällinen kunta (in Finnish)
Democracy Trials 2020 Project funded by the City of Oulu and Sitra
City of Oulu, Educational and Cultural Services / Basic Education and Youth Services
The objective of the School of Politics for Young People is to spark young people’s interest in empowerment and achieving relevant knowledge and skills required for empowerment and acting in society. Special attention is to be paid to young people, who are not yet participating, or who feel they have no say in their affairs or issues regarding society. Activities are planned and implemented in cooperation with young people, municipal workers and officials.
The project consists of three parts, i.e. work packages.
In Oulu, there is a youth council, ONE, where each youth councillor has been designated a member of the City Council as his or her mentor. Moreover, in addition to the youth council, there are 15 local participation groups for children and young people. Intergenerational learning is enhanced in the dialogue between a city councillor (adult) and a youth councillor (adolescent) and in regular meetings. With the School of Politics for Young People this procedure will be put to practice in educational institutions thus connecting with a larger number of young people. This is a way of enhancing young people’s understanding of decision-making in society.
In the course of the project, visits will be made in different schools. During these visits, a representative from the Youth Council ONE and a mentor from the City Council will interactively inform young people about social empowerment. They are told about empowerment options, youth council activities and city decision-making. At the same time young people are challenged to voice their views on topical matters under decision.
Enhancement of Young People’s Knowledge and Skills
The purpose is to discover and try out new, meaningful ways of participation and empowerment for young people. The members of the youth council and youth services will arrange visitation opportunities and events at schools and in participation groups especially in passive regions. They will also provide practical advice on how to promote the issues which are important for young people. Young people are encouraged to point out drawbacks and find solutions through, for instance, drama and arts. Moreover, the target of the project is to facilitate and provide framework (premises, time, resources, spirit) for activities organised by young people. During the project young people will be actively encouraged to do so.
Supporting and enhancing democracy education provided at school
As a part of the curricular democracy education, the project will support the teacher’s competence and ability to create conditions promoting students’ civic engagement. In cooperation with teachers and students in the pilot schools, we will build up a multi-professional learning package with information about democracy education, tools for carrying it out and content of current local issues. Implementing the expertise of the respective schools, as the curriculum allows, we will seek approaches and solutions for municipal development and matters involved in decision-making at that time. The schools choose a topical challenge, which teachers and students will take up using a variety of methods and subsequently suggest a solution for the city decision-making. The process will be documented: how the case progresses and what methods were implemented. Pilot school methods will be collected into a toolkit, which is easy to duplicate. School visits shall continue and become a part of the city policy.
As a result of the project, young people’s knowledge and skills for empowerment will be increased, new methods and forms of empowerment will be created and can be duplicated both locally and nationwide. Young people’s perspective and suggestions for solutions will be systematically considered in municipal decision-making. The project will result in material for democracy education, which can be used more extensively at schools and other educational institutes.
The project expires on 31 March 2021, but will continue with the City of Oulu contribution also after The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra funding ends. Democracy education tools shall be implemented also after the project ends and democracy education will continue in local youth services and in young people’s participation groupsIntergenerational cooperation will continue. The youth council shall, also after the project, visit different areas and carry out e.g. school visits, among other things. New approaches to participation shall be established as a part of municipal decision-making.
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