EcoConnect: Youth exchange for a greener future

PROJECT NO. 2023-1-LT02-KA151-YOU-000117972

In a bid to foster international collaboration and raise awareness on pressing ecological issues, the youth exchange project «EcoConnect: Youth exchange for a greener future» brought together young people from Lithuania, Latvia, Greece, Turkiye, Spain and Romania to discuss and tackle environmental challenges. The project, focusing on ecology and sustainability, provided a platform for participants to share insights about their respective countries’ environmental situations and sustainability goals. This cross-cultural exchange of ideas aimed to empower the younger generation to take active roles in promoting and implementing sustainable practices. The project took place on 23-29 May 2024 in Paplatelė, Lithuania.

The week started by introducing the young people to the purpose of the project and future activities. At the same time, the Erasmus+ programme and its possibilities were presented, and the benefits of Youthpass were discussed. Of course, no project can do without getting to know the participants, so the first day was spent playing name and get-to-know games, forming teams and looking for common values. Participants expressed their expectations, fears, and apprehensions. Also, everyone thought about how they can be useful to the project, what experience, and knowledge they can share with others.

On the following days participants presented their countries’ ecological status and the measures being taken to achieve sustainability goals. These presentations highlighted the unique challenges and innovative solutions each country is employing, fostering a rich exchange of knowledge and best practices. From renewable energy initiatives in one region to waste management strategies in another, the diversity of approaches underscored the global nature of environmental issues and the need for collaborative solutions.

Project participants had the opportunity to visit Telšiai city – capital of Samogitia region and put hands-on learning experiences. The group visited the Samogitian Business Center, where we learned from Almantas Lukavičius, vice mayor, and Kristinas Jankauskienės, Head of the Environment and Civil Protection sub-department of Telšiai District Municipality administration about the city of Telšiai, its management, organized activities and local government initiatives in promoting environmental sustainability. Later project participants got to know the processes related to ensuring clean water supply – an essential component of ecological health during the visit at UAB «Telšių vandenys». The youth took practical experience from the non-governmental organization «Don’t be alone» – learning about the impact of textile waste and the importance of reuse.

During the project, the youth also had the opportunity to improve their creativity and artistic skills. The project consisted of working groups developing the possibilities of paper recycling and applying them to the implementation of artistic ideas. This hands-on activity not only introduced the participants to recycling methods, but also showed how such an idea can be turned into a viable business.

In a collective effort to improve their immediate environment, the participants undertook a clean-up of the project area. This activity was more than just a routine clean-up; it was an exercise in environmental stewardship and teamwork. The collected trash was not simply disposed of; instead, it was repurposed into educational posters. These posters, made from the collected waste, served as powerful visual reminders of the importance of waste management and the creative potential of recycling.

During the project, young people also learned more about Turkish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Greek, Spanish and Romanian cultures and traditions through various games and dances. They also improved their multilingual competencies by learning new words in these languages as well.

We believe that “EcoConnect” succeeded in its mission to educate, inspire, and connect young people from different backgrounds around the common goal of environmental sustainability. By combining theoretical knowledge with practical experiences, the project not only raised awareness but also equipped participants with the tools and motivation to make a positive impact in their own communities. Through projects like “EcoConnect”, the future of our planet looks a bit brighter, driven by the passion and commitment of the younger generation to create a sustainable world.

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