Inspiring projects by young people at the European Youth Award

Taking over from Holger Schmitt, Network Director of AEGEE-Europe 2014-2015, our Secretary General, Svenja van der Tol, became a part of the online and onsite Grand Jury of the European Youth Award in the past months. The EYA is a pan-European contest to motivate young people, entrepeneurs and start-ups to produce digital projects having an impact on society in the categories Healthy Life, Smart Learning, Connecting Cultures, Go Green, Active Citizenship and Money Matters.

After all submissions were judged online in August, for which each juror got assigned one or two categories, between the 10th and the 13th of September the onsite Grand Jury got together in the European Youth Capital of the Year 2015, Cluj-Napoca, to select the final winners in each category. Having judged projects in the Active Citizenship and Healthy Life categories in the online judging, during the onsite jury Svenja got to take a look at the projects in the Connecting Cultures and Active Citizenship categories.

An intense yet also very inspiring two days were spent on debates, discussions, collaborations and networking between the 18 jurors and European Youth Award team. At the end of the event, thirteen winning projects were selected, which can be found here. In the category Active Citizenship, a very important topic for AEGEE-Europe, the projects Helperon and Exempt from Theory were chosen. Where Helperon lets people donate to charity easily by watching online videos, Exempt from Theory teaches youngsters in Poland practical competences such as teamwork or time management, preparing them for the job market and contributing to the society in a positive way.

Another category close to AEGEE-Europe’s heart is Connecting Cultures, in which Origin and NOC were chosen as the final winners. Origin is an augmented reality game for smartphones where you can create your own species and creatures in your own world, with the aim to teach users more about their surroundings. NOC on the other side lets its users leave the online environment to take a step back into reality and meet up with other people based on shared interests.

Although having only highlighted four of the projects now, the seven other projects are worth a look too. As Svenja described her experience: “Seeing all these young people present amazing projects based on a single idea to change something in their society makes me very proud of my generation. We are not here to live single-minded lives, but we are here to make a change and improve the world we live in together, and the European Youth Award and its contestants are a perfect example of that!”