Welcome to Islanders! Kicking off on Terceira

Europe’s small islands are special places, where the interconnection of culture and nature is foregrounded and unique stories are shared. Our project aims to engage and empower young people in the creation of enriching, sustainable, and inclusive futures, celebrating their communities while exploring the particular challenges and opportunities that emerge from their environments.

In the first phase of our project, we have been building our partnership of youth organisations across Europe, sharing our experiences and perspectives and learning from the work we do with young people.

Our first in-person meeting was held in Angra do Heroísmo on Terceira Island, Portugal, one of the three capital cities of the Azores. Founded in 1478, Angra was historically the most important city in the Azores, and the richness of its history and built heritage led to its classification as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on December 7, 1983. The most westerly island of our project, Terceira continues to celebrate its traditional culture while experiencing rapid changes due to increased tourism and economic transformations, making it an ideal starting location for our analysis of the situations experienced by young people in island communities.

Part of the presentation from Prisms, Malta, as each organisation shared the priorities and approaches used in their work with young people across Europe

We began by presenting our organisations and our work, noting many similarities as well as differences. Our partnership reaches across the breadth of Europe, and the experiences of young people in the various locations clearly differ. However, we found many commonalities, both in the challenges and opportunities arising from economic and social changes, and in the approaches we take in our work to engage young people and strengthen their engagement with their communities.

The importance of nature as a way of connecting with heritage and prioritising sustainable futures is central to our project. The potential of working with ecological agriculture to support well-being while creating new economic opportunities is shown in BioFontinhas, where young people, many of whom face social barriers, are engaged in growing plants, roots, aromatic herbs and edible flowers, most of which are sold to local restaurants. Guided by founder Avelino Ormonde, our visit to the farm allowed us to sample some of these delicacies fresh from the land, as well as learn about the ways in which organic farming can help young people to connect with nature while developing new skills.

Our time on Terceira allowed us to learn from each other while planning the next stage of training for youth workers in 2023, and our labs with young people to be held in 2024. The special environment of the island was a truly inspirational location to imagine new ways in which young people can be empowered through an ecocultural approach to their personal and community futures.

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