So, what exactly is a YouthLAB?
Youth LABS are part of something called KMST. That stands for: Knowledge Management and Staff Training. It's a system of training courses (including newcomers training, different types of officers’ training etc) which is part of the network effort to provide space for officers to meet, peer to peer, to learn together, to share, to reflect on issues that are relevant, important and pressing relating to the two programmes. Click here to understand more about KMST.
The first ever Youth LAB was back in 2013. Since then there have been three, and Istanbul 2022 is the fourth.
Principles of a Youth LAB
Sharing, giving and receiving, are an essential core element of a Youth LAB. Often this means the LAB itself is co-created by a prep team of NAs, and that other colleagues will volunteer to host sessions, run workshops, or contribute to specific sessions.
LABs aim to increase the sense of belonging to the NA network. In your daily life, you might feel you belong to your organisation, your NA, your country. Through the LAB, you can establish new contacts, meet more people, and feel this sense of belonging to a wider stronger bigger thing.
Within the network there are many officers fulfilling different types of roles. A Youth LAB brings people together from different strands of the programmes, building relationships across responsibilities, strengthening the transversal human connections, as well as cross-fertilising good practice from different areas.
Memories from previous Youth LABs
Anna from Italian NA - YouthLAB 1, Malta, 2014
"It’s so nice to see you all - old friends and new colleagues!
What I remember from the Malta LAB was the reconnecting, the bridging, the giving and receiving. We shared good practices, and talked all together, thinking how to connect the old Youth in Action Programme to the new Erasmus+, and how to offer our expertise to the new Programme.
We had the chance to visit a local youth club, celebrating the local youth field, saw some projects run by young people (which is what our work is all about). And of course there was a great celebration on a boat on the mediterranean sea, with a beautiful sunset."
Inge from German NA - YouthLAB 2, Hamburg, 2015
"I was part of the prep team for the LAB in 2015 (together with the NAs from Austria, Croatia, BE-FR and SALTO) which was hosted in Hamburg, Germany. There were about 120 pax and the title was: ‘Where do we go from here - Community & Chaos’. We chose that title, because at that time we were facing different crises in Europe and in youth work: the war in Syria, the refugee crisis, increasing xenophobia (and many other phobias), radicalised youth etc. It was strange times, with bombings in cities in Europe. We took it as a chance to influence what was in our control - the two European youth Programmes - especially with the topics of human rights.
We consciously decided to leave administrational things behind, concentrating on sharing our perspectives, visions, ideas and opinions, as well as what could be possible in the future. We also did an adventure trip to the Sport Club St Pauli, which is actually the biggest provider of youth work in Hamburg, and has strong engagement in human rights, against xenophobia/homophobia.
I hope that you have some time to think creatively at this Youth LAB in Istanbul, and you can use the time to think: where do we go, as a community, from here!"
Theo from Czech NA - YouthLAB 3, Prague, 2017
“In 2017, I was working in the NA part-time as an admin support. I didn’t know so many things, and didn’t know anything about TCA etc. My boss asked if I would help with the YouthLAB. I didn’t have a clue what that was, but said ‘Ok, yes, I’ll deal with it’. It was an important moment for me to see the Programmes, and it actually motivated me to become a full time employee of our NA. And that was the beginning of a successful career in the Czech NA! It was good to get so inspired by what happened there.
So for this LAB, I wish you will get motivation and inspiration for your future work!”