When the global Covid-19 pandemic hit the globe in March, there was no telling how long the crisis would last. It’s not surprising that youth in the time of Covid-19 is feeling stressed and overwhelmed. They are deprived of their everyday routine, their friends and whatever they thought that it was “normal”, founding themselves isolated at home, mostly facing a phone or computer screen.

Responding to the needs of young people, the Youth Information Centres of the Youth Board of Cyprus have developed and virtually implemented the series of 6 lectures entitled “The Philosophies of Happiness”.

The main aim of this series of lectures was to help youngsters navigate the moral dilemmas of the Covid-19 crisis and cultivate the idea of personal happiness through the theories of the most important Greek Philosophers and Schools of Philosophy: Aristotle, Socrates, Plato and Epicurus.

The ancient Greek Philosophers meditated about happiness, made it an experience, and shared their theory with us — the theory of happiness. Philosophy can be a tool for all of us in the 21st century to find how to stay happier and calmer as we learn to live with Covid-19 long-term and find out what gives real meaning to their lives in general.

During 6 weeks in October and November, more than 40 participants had the chance to evaluate each theory and of course to put it into practice. Like thousands of others around the world who followed the advice of ancient Philosophers and learned how to be happy.

Get to know more about the initiative here.

In times of crisis, it is only normal to experience negative emotions, which are increasingly difficult to handle. Children are particularly vulnerable to such emotions, as they are called to confront unprecedented experiences, are often challenging to comprehend and can significantly affect a child.

Thus, the Youth Board of Cyprus organised a Facebook Live discussion to deal with the impact of the pandemic on children’s mental and emotional health and suggest ways for parents to enhance positive communication with their children.

The Facebook Live discussion took place on Wednesday, 20 January 2021, with more than 300 attendees and 8.500 video viewers. The Executive Director of the Youth Board of Cyprus was the host of the live discussion, and two experienced psychologists participated, one of them from the Youth Board’s psychological services “Mikri Arktos”. Both experts shared professional advice to viewers, who had the chance to submit their questions and get answers from the psychologists.

Information about the live as well as the video of the discussion are available here.

Following the Facebook Live discussion, a series of four focused workshops took place to empower parents to further develop the necessary skills for supporting their children more effectively during this difficult period.

Research has revealed that financial literacy in Cyprus is very low among young people in Cyprus. In fact, six out of ten young people in Cyprus do not have a sufficient level of financial literacy. Responding to the need to promote this skill, the Youth Information Centres of the Youth Board of Cyprus, in collaboration with the Technological University of Cyprus, developed and implemented the series of 6 lectures entitled “Personal Finance”.

The main aim of this series was to introduce young people to basic financial planning concepts, especially to those young people who are transitioning to a stage of financial independence. The series was organised across six separate modules within a 6-week window. Topics covered include budgeting, saving, investing, financial risk, borrowing and credit. Each lecture introduced a real-world scenario where financial decisions could be made, and financial planning concepts could be applied. Young people were challenged to think critically about each scenario and decide how they might come to a resolution if faced with a similar situation.

Besides, considering that financial planning is such a personal topic, young people were encouraged to define their own financial goals and objectives. At the same time, we discussed concepts and provided them with tools that can be applied in helping them to reach those goals.

During the implementation of the lecture series in January and February 2021, more than 60 participants had the chance to build their money knowledge, skills, develop a mindset and habits that they can put to use in the future. These young people will make major financial decisions for the first time in their lives, and it is essential that they can make well-informed decisions since poor financial decisions can prove costly and have lasting effects on their lives.

Individuals experience and perceive crises in their own ways, even if these crises are universal and thus shared and experienced by others as well. Even though the current pandemic was a global phenomenon that affected the world, individuals perceived it each in/their own way and found different challenges and obstacles to overcome.

These situations can cause intense and negative emotions, such as fear and uncertainty, anxiety and sadness, anger, and irritability. Although all these emotions could be considered normal reactions to a difficult situation, the constant and prolonged exposure to these emotions can endanger a person’s mental health.

On the occasion of the European Youth Information Day on April 17th and in the framework of the European Youth Information and Counseling Agency (ERYICA) campaign, “Youth Info #mindmymind – Discover your inner self. Speak up”, the Youth Information Centers in Cyprus, organised a series of two online workshops entitled “Mental health in times of crisis”.

The aim of the workshops was to highlight the importance of preserving the notion of mental health and maintaining the emotional well-being of young people in this unprecedented period.

The workshops discussed, among other topics, the following:

  • How and in what ways, a difficult situation can affect the person mentally

  • When a negative emotion is typical and when not

  • Ways to recognise symptoms and accept emotions

  • Skills to normalise and manage negative emotions in times of crisis

Under the title “Re-Cycle”, the Youth Information Centre of Agros organised a workshop to transform old bicycles into flowerbeds, which now decorate the parks and squares of Agros village.

This initiative was carried out under ERYICA‘s “Greening Youth Work” priority and under goal #10, “Sustainable Green Europe” of the EU Youth Goals. Young participants had the opportunity to work together and turn old, worn items into a new, useful product with reusable materials (Bicycles, Eco-friendly Paints, Timber, Plants) offered by the community. This activity also has a multiplier effect, as it highlights the importance of reusing materials and reducing waste. The transformed bicycle-flowerbeds are already a point of attraction and are constantly photographed by young people who then post them on social media.

The workshop also functioned as a means of social inclusion since, amongst the participants, there were ESC volunteers who are now in Cyprus and unaccompanied asylum seekers who have recently resided in the Agros community. In addition, the President of the Cyprus Youth Organization, Mr Prodromos Alambritis, and the Commissioner for the Environment, Mrs Klelia Vassiliou, who attended the event, also had an active role in painting the bicycles with the help of young participants!

 

The Youth Information Centers of the Youth Board of Cyprus support #STANDFORSOMETHING, a youth engagement campaign coordinated by the European Youth Card Association (EYCA) and funded by the European Parliament. At its helm are 21 European Youth Activists aged between 16-29 years old from 16 EU countries, eager to engage young Europeans in conversations and activities about the Conference on the Future of Europe. One of the 16 partner youth card organizations of the ’’I Stand for’’ Project is Youth Board of Cyprus and the Cypriot youth activist is the youth information worker of Paphos’s Youth Information Center Doxia Mina (as the lead face of the campaign in Cyprus). The campaign was officially launched on 6 May 2021.

With the Conference on the Future of Europe set to conclude in Spring 2022, this campaign will provide decision makers with a clear view on the priorities valued by young Europeans. By listening to young people, the European Union sets itself the best chance to re-shape itself for the next decades and deliver on the wishes of its citizens.

Doxia Mina as a young person cares/stands for the right of all young people to have access to complete, objective, understandable and reliable high-quality information on all their questions and needs. Correct and independent information helps youngsters make choices and deal with problems they face. It promotes their autonomy, the ability to think critically, and at the same time it renders them active members in society. Information is a powerful right as it makes one aware of their rights. If we do not know our rights, how can we exercise them? This is why Doxia joined the #STANDFORSOMETHING campaign.

The Youth Information Centers of the Youth Board of Cyprus communicate this pan-European campaign to young Cypriots via their activities and encouraged them to participate in the #STANDFORSOMETHING campaign and in the Conference on the Future of Europe – to have their say!

Young people can participate in different ways:

  • They can share their ideas with the European Parliament though its platform dedicated to the voice of young Europeans – https://www.youthideas.eu/ . Any young citizen can upload their ideas and/or vote on the ideas of others. The ideas that receive the most votes will be included in the official report of the European Parliament to be shared as part of the CoFoE. (EYCA office will upload the ideas from the outreach events to this platform – via the info shared in the monthly reports from partner countries)
  • Each youngster/citizen can make his/her priorities known on the Conference’s official online platform – https://futureu.europa.eu/ . Citizens can register their ideas, find out about events in their region or register their own events.
  • Young Europeans can join the conversation through the We #STANDFORSOMETHING Conversations Facebook group and attend the many events being planned across Europe – http://facebook.com/groups/standforsomething.eu

For more information on the project, the implementing partners and the youth activists, please visit the project website: www.istandfor.eu.

So what do you care about?

Whatever it is, join us and… #StandForSomething

 

The Students Empowerment Summer School was held for the 5th consecutive year by the Youth Information Centres of the Youth Board of Cyprus and aimed at encouraging and cultivating personal and emotional development and the acquisition of skills that will help the participants become more efficient as students. At the same time by participating young people had the chance to get to know each other, coexist and collaborate and gain new experience, become active citizens and having a great time!

The participation to the Students Empowerment Summer School was free of charge and its duration was from 05-16/07/21. The current pandemic and protocols did not allow us to hold the Empowerment School at the Youth Information Centres all over Cyprus, thus we chose the alternative of carrying it out online. This allowed for young people living in rural areas to participate. Participants were students of secondary education aged 14-17 years old.

The interesting program of this year’s Empowerment School included games and teamwork building workshops, a workshop on developing empathy and emotion management, photography, development of digital skills, song writing and online computer game creation, cooking and nutrition and much more. In addition, the summer school acted as a multiplier for the cultivation of environmental consciousness, since the participants had the opportunity to participate in an online up-cycling workshop with recyclable and reusable materials. The feedback of all participants were quite positive, giving us thus the motivation to plan ahead for next year’s Empowerment Summer School!

Τhere is no doubt that theatre is not confined to the limits of the scene, but extends to social, cultural, and political spheres.

The Youth Information Centres of the Youth Board of Cyprus in cooperation with the Cyprus Centre of the International Theatre Institute (CCOITI) co-organised a series of four online seminars under the title “Theatre and the Cypriot Society”. The online seminars were carried out in June 2021 and the series aimed at highlighting the social character of theatre and at triggering a discussion on how various socio-cultural issues are addressed via theatre and how theatre can help society deal with the challenges it is faced with, such as the current pandemic, racism, socio-economic crisis and much more.

Moreover, the series discussed  how theatre can be used as a tool for inter-communal dialogue, what the role of Cypriot dialect in the modern Cypriot theatrical plays is, how the concepts of gender and identity are structured in the theatrical scene and how topics such as discrimination, immigration, democracy, are represented through the art of theatre and theatre plays.

Our world faces multiple challenges in terms of securing ecological sustainability and addressing climate change. The high percentage of greenhouse emissions, plastic and food waste, pesticide use, and other threats to biodiversity makes it imperative that the world, and especially young people, become more aware of environmental issues, and finding ways to bring change starting from their daily habits.

On the occasion of World Environment Day (June 5th 2021), the Youth Information Centres of the Youth Board of Cyprus designed and launched the “EcoQuiz’’ which was an online awareness campaign, using the hashtag #EcoYOUTH.

The “EcoQuiz’’ consisted of 15 multiple choice questions of an environmental nature and is equal parts entertaining and educational. It was divided into four topics: climate change, energy, waste recycling and digital carbon footprint. The correct answers were provided at the end of the quiz and everyone who got all answers right won an ’’eco prize’’ – a re-useable biodegradable bamboo fiber cup. Thereafter, all the winners that had answered all the quiz questions correctly automatically entered an online random draw to win our big tech gift. This initiative was open to everyone aged over 14 years and each user was allowed to participate only once.

Specifically, more than 300 youngsters answered the quiz and learnt new things on environmental/sustainability topics. They also realized how environmentally conscious they really are in their daily life.

Our main aim was to embrace youth engagement, foster youth participation in environmental initiatives and promote sustainability through environmental education. Nevertheless, our primary goal was to make everyone’s daily habits more sustainable and environmentally friendly. It is worth mentioning that youth workers can use this online contest as a tool, in order to be better prepared in educating young people on environmental issues, inspire them in adopting an ecological lifestyle/thinking, and encourage them in becoming youth activists in specific environmental actions.

It is high time each of us, and especially young people, acted as agents of change for environmental and sustainable development before it is too late.