Study session: creating braver and safer places. Photo of a groupof people posing in front of flags from many countries.

On 10-15 June, in cooperation with the CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe, and the support of the Council of Europe (CoE), we co-hosted in the European Youth Centre Strasbourg, France, the study session titled “Creating Safe(r) and Brave(r) Spaces”.

For more than a decade now, the ENIL Youth Network, in cooperation with the Youth Department of the Council of Europe, and sometimes with other organisations too (like this year with CEJI for example), is hosting a week-long study session for disabled (or mixed) youngsters, in Strasbourg, on a variety of topics that are of interest to young people, such as leadership, intersectionality, mental health, relationship and sexuality, inclusive culture and more.

The study session of this year aimed to empower young people to create safe(r), brave(r) and inclusive societies where intersectional experiences are lived and valued through multi-faceted respect for diversity. Furthermore, it encouraged participants from different backgrounds and diverse personal experiences to meet, understand and work with each other in claiming, exercising, and defending their rights through active participation.  

More than 20 youngsters from diverse backgrounds, countries and communities (advocating for disability, religion, sexual orientation, roma etc rights), together with their personal assistants and the organising team, came together, worked and reflected on how we can create safe(r) and brave(r) spaces. Throughout this week, the participants had the chance to learn about the work of ENIL, CEJI and CoE (which they also got the opportunity to visit and discuss with a representative), explore notions such as allyship, unconscious bias and intersectional discrimination, human rights education, the pyramid of hate, mental health and wellbeing, and many more. They also heard stories from people with different backgrounds, through the format of Living Library. Finally, they got the opportunity to work on 3 specific outputs: the Calendar of Allyship, the Inclusive Language Manual, and the Factsheet on creating inclusive and accessible events. All of them, when finalised, can be used by CoE, our organisations and others in our everyday work and help to make a change.

We are living in turbulent times, in a world where peace is challenged and the human rights of people, though addressed, are questioned. Add to all this the inequalities created by climate change and other socioeconomic factors, and it becomes clear the need to create safer and braver, as well as inclusive societies, with understanding, solidarity, empathy and the sense of allyship between all. Young people play a significant role in this, and after a week together, we are optimistic that our study session achieved its mission, and its participants will really become agents of change.

Till the next one!