Every year a special topic of our work is given special attention. The aim is to draw attention to grievances and to encourage young people in particular to commit themselves to a more inclusive and participatory society. The elaboration and selection of the annual topic takes place annually at the SHL Spring Forum by young people from Germany and the Western Balkans. The focus for this year is:

Youth Movements – Jugend bewegt!

Young people get involved in a world in which information is accessible to them and topics are increasingly set globally and directly by themselves.

In Germany in particular, “Fridays for Future” has shown that children and young people have the tools, skills and perseverance to network and bring demands to the streets and from there into public discourse in a forceful and effective way.

Young activists in Southeastern Europe, on the other hand, are fighting for a say in education and training and, through their work, are demonstrating the consequences of exclusion and nationalism for their societies. They make clear the problems that lead many of them to vote with their feet and emigrate in the end.

In Jordan, on the other hand, young people are often confronted with the need to take responsibility. The experience of seeking refuge and the living situation there (often associated with restrictions such as dependencies in care, lack of work permits, lack of freedom of movement, etc.), lead to psychological and physical stress and the weakening of resiliencies in the individual, family and community sphere, which are all the more important in this difficult situation.

What unites this eventful youth is the insight that problems are not tackled consistently if they do not turn themselves on. Maladministration in the education system affects them directly and climate change will hit them hardest. The commitment of young people not only highlights these problems, but advocates concrete measures that would help to solve them.

For SHL, this means: facilitating exchange between young people, developing common, solidarity-based perspectives for society, promoting discourse in order to bring about long-term structural improvements. This applies both to the work of young people on and around the Social Day, the numerous other opportunities to get directly involved with SHL (e.g. concerts, workshops, co-determination through membership), and to the promotion of projects in the Western Balkans and in Jordan. In all these areas, our goal is to help young people find their voice and make themselves heard.

The choice of the annual theme 2020/21

With the elaboration and choice of “Youth Movements – Jugend bewegt!” young people from Germany and the Western Balkans decided at the SHL Spring Forum in March 2020 for a yearly topic that follows on seamlessly from SHL’s founding motivation and the work of the last 25 years. In addition, it is recognizable in SHL’s mission statement, vision, and values. It offers a unifying element for all three project regions, which cannot only be thought of from a social perspective. Examples of this are the work of state student organizations in Germany and the Western Balkans and leadership programs for young refugees in Jordan.

With its diverse methodological and didactic approaches, SHL is able to promote youth participatory structures, encounter formats and stronger social positioning.

Getting informed, creating spaces and places for encounters and exchange, promoting activism

SHL is committed to providing children and young people with spaces for encounter and exchange, thus giving them the opportunity to learn about the challenges in their own country, but also to recognize and understand the needs of other children and young people. In addition, we would like to encourage children and young people to position themselves socially in order to make their needs and wishes heard. As many examples show, this positioning can trigger social change through commitment or activism.