Ju & Me - A youth mentoring project in the LEADER regions "Wesermünde-Süd" and "Leipziger Muldenland"
The "Ju & Me" project actively involved young people in the planning of their region through a ‘reverse mentoring programme’, in which young people and young adults advised leaders from business, politics and administration in the participating municipalities of two LEADER regions in Germany.
Rural areas face the challenge of remaining attractive to young people. Forward-looking solutions can only be found if youth perspectives are brought to the attention of decision-makers in order to orient the region more towards the needs of young people and young adults.
This innovative project addressed fundamental questions of sustainable regional development, such as: how to bring the viewpoints of young people closer to decision-makers, so that they can integrate such views into their work? Which possibilities can young people use to make their interests known and to implement them?
The project fostered networking between different actors in municipal and regional development: young people, leaders from politics, the social, cultural and business sectors, LEADER regional managers as well as representatives of two LAGs in two German regions.
It developed an innovative ‘reverse mentoring’ methodology which fostered concrete ‘participation and co-decision-making’, involving youth in regional development. It led among others to the involvement of young people in the development of the future Local Development strategies.
The project encouraged similar experiences in other German regions and prompted collaboration with two LAGs in Finland. In addition, youth leaders involved in the project are working together with actors from Finland and Latvia in an EU-wide Erasmus+ project to further develop the topic of youth participation.