Dozens of sessions of the European Youth Parliament in Spring 2020 had to be postponed due the COVID-19 outbreak. With its first digital session, involving 111 participants located in 32 countries, the EYP managed to keep reaching, connecting and enabling young people from the entire continent to learn and express their opinion!
More digital events are now planned to follow suit, such as the international Digital Health Forum in June and the national session of EYP Turkey. We would like to inspire future EYP sessions as well as other events with 10 adjectives that are important takeaways from this first, very successful innovative session.
Exciting Different problems require different solutions. The digital session is the most innovative change in the concept of EYP sessions since its beginning, 30 years ago!
International We got even more international than usually! At most regional and national EYP sessions, there is only space for a few participants from abroad, and while the digital session was not one of the three yearly flagship International Sessions, it was not linked to a specific host country. Secondly, something entirely new was that also the organising team could be completely international as there was no need to be at a certain location or speak any other language than English to arrange venues, food and activities.
Accessible Only two necessities are required to take part: a computer or smartphone and internet connection. This makes a digital event ideal for outreach, involving young people who would otherwise not be able to participate because of their location, financial circumstances, visa, school situation etc.
Sustainable No travel! For the first time, everyone simply #stayedathome to attend a session. Imagine the saved fuel! There was also no paper used: no post-its, no printed resolution booklets, no flipcharts. And lastly no trash from packaging and food.
Fun Discussing topics online is interesting, but it must be more boring than a physical session… Wrong! The chairpersons completely reinvented classic teambuilding so that the participants could still get to know each other better through games and challenges. The organisers provided (optional) morning and evening activities such as zumba, yoga, cooking class, party and a treasure hunt.
Fast The time between selecting the project manager and the session itself… was less than one month! That is for sure an absolute record for such a big event. No fundraising necessary, no venues to be arranged and no travels to book. Quite amazing – kudos to Christopher Nölte and his team.
Technological Smart use of online tools. Zoom granted the EYP network with free pro accounts to enable unlimited call-time and amount of participants, which came in handy for group meetings with high-level speakers and for Generally Assembly. Tools to communicate and work included Discord, Kialo and Google Drive.
Connecting With almost the whole world in lockdown, many having to miss out on education, hobbies and most of all social content, digital sessions are ideal! This way, young people can connect, learn and share their opinion even during social distancing times.
High-level With time-consuming travel out of the way, it turns out high-level speakers like experts and decision-makers are more able to fit us into their busy schedules. Think Members of the European Parliament, a microbiologist, health professionals, policy experts and academics.
Long-term With other digital sessions already planned, it’s clear that the concept is successful and not a one-time event. But we will also take it further than lockdown-time, because even when travel and ‘normal’ sessions are happening again, it is an amazing way to involve new groups and to ease the burden on our planet.