National Youth Forum: We unite for the future of Ukraine

The National Youth Forum is more than just an event; it is changing the Ukrainian youth sector through community and initiative. The event brings together people from NGOs from all over Ukraine so that their words turn into real steps forward in the development of society. Participation in this event helped us not only gain knowledge, but also new opportunities and useful connections for creating a common future. Consider this forum as not just an event, but as an open space for changes that can occur in each participant.

On December 16–18th, the National Youth Forum organised by the National Youth Council of Ukraine was held at the IQ Business Centre, Kyiv. This event became a platform for uniting representatives of NGOs and national associations who discussed current trends and determined ways of developing the youth sector in the country.

The first day of the forum was marked by a dynamic exchange of ideas, contributing to team-building among the participants. Presentations of regional coalitions and discussions on the work of NGOs with young people in Germany provided participants with an important context on opportunities for cooperation and exchange of experience for the development of the youth sector in Ukraine.

Panel discussions and group work on the second and third days of the forum actively involved participants in discussing issues involving different target groups of young people in youth work and an inclusive approach in this process. The presentation of the interim results of the study "Needs and State of Activity of Youth NGOs during the War" collected the most up-to-date information on the current state of the sector and set the stage for discussing future strategies.

Forum description

The National Youth Forum is a key event for youth public organizations and young activists from all over Ukraine within the framework of the project "Level Up for youth NGOs for the democratic future of Ukraine. We have united a hundred participants from all over Ukraine in Kyiv to share experiences, study the latest trends and form strategies for joint activities. The forum opens wide opportunities for young leaders from different fields, creating a unique environment for interaction and creating partnerships. It is a place where ideas become reality, and young people show their influence on the formation of civil society and the development of the country.

Purpose of the forum and its benefit

The main goal of the forum was to create a space for active interaction and exchange of ideas among participants. This is an event aimed at developing leadership qualities and implementing innovative strategies in the youth sector. Participants had the opportunity to participate in trainings, seminars and panel discussions on a wide range of topics covering key aspects of modern society, politics and youth development. Special attention was paid to the analysis and work on researching the needs and problems of public organizations during the war, which became the foundation for further strategies for the development and support of these organizations.

Open topics on the forum

The forum discussed such topics as an inclusive approach in youth work, open partnership, presentation of the achievements of youth coalitions, international experience and active participation of young people. Panel discussions included consideration of inclusivity in youth work, presented by Varvara Varava from NGO Insight, Tetyana Lomakina, authorized adviser to the President of Ukraine on accessibility, Volodymyr Yakovenko, the head of the Roma organization "ARKA", and Ivanna Mykhaylenko, a student of the Kyiv University of Intellectual Property and Law of the National University "Odesa Legal Academy", shared her personal experience of participation and influence on the inclusive approach in youth work, which created an extraordinary interest in the development of inclusion in Ukraine. The topics of partnership and cooperation were presented by Olena Kazmazovska from the project "Strengthening Civil Society in the Eastern Partnership" GIZ, Anastasia Shevchuk from UNICEF and facilitator Yelizaveta Boriskina.

OPEN SPACE and BarCamp were used as formats to present the work of regional coalitions and workshops on various topics such as video content, presentation design, GPT chat, environmental communication and social media. The participants exchanged experiences, achievements and challenges they faced in their activities.

The experience of working with young people in Germany was presented by Yevgenia Kozmenko from DBJR, as well as reports on the educational trips of delegations of NYCU to the twin cities of Heidelberg and Hamburg, presented by Yulia Kotelnikova and Vadym Bratchikov .

The forum also featured a presentation of the intermediate results of the study ``The needs and state of activity of youth public organizations during the war'' by Viktoria Bezsmertna, a member of the NYCU council.

In the final block of the forum, Natalia Shevchuk, head of the NYCU, presented the achievements of the Council and plans for the next year. The participants exchanged impressions and discussed the ways of development of the youth movement in Ukraine.

The overall atmosphere of the Forum

The forum was a real deepening of knowledge and inspiration for all participants. There was energy and a burning desire to join the common cause - the development of the youth movement in Ukraine. A wide range of discussions allowed everyone to find something for themselves: be it new approaches in the public sector or personal development of public organizations. Lectures and master classes not only inspired, but also provided concrete tools for application in practice. And most importantly, the forum created an extraordinary atmosphere of cooperation and friendship, where everyone felt important and found a community moving in the same direction.

Impressions and comments of participants:

"Everything was clear, understandable, informative, the organizers in the chat were attentive to each participant and always ready to help."

"10 out of 10, because everything went at the highest level, and such events should be continued, because they open up new opportunities for young people, provide tools to get involved in public activities and inspire them to create positive changes in their communities."

"It was interesting to hear about the German experience, about inclusion, and the representatives and speakers were important and valuable for me personally, I was especially impressed by Ivann and, unfortunately, I don't know his name, the sign language interpreter"

"A friendly atmosphere conducive to the free exchange of ideas, interesting speakers and motivated young people from all over Ukraine, a general optimistic mood that makes you believe that if you put in the effort, everything will work out!"

Conclusion: The National Youth Forum has become a place for organizations and proactive youth to unite

The National Youth Forum turned out to be an incredibly important event for the youth of Ukraine. Not only representatives of different regions of the country, but also various ideas, experience and desire to make positive changes have united here. The forum became not just a platform for exchanging knowledge, but also a guarantee for the transformation of this knowledge into real projects and initiatives.

Тут кожен учасник зміг знайти щось для себе: чи то нові навички, чи вдосконалення вже наявних, або натхнення для запуску власних проєктів. Форум стимулював активну участь у різних гранях життя, починаючи від розвитку особистості та лідерських якостей до активної участі у громадському житті.

It is not only an event where new things are learned, but also a place where important knowledge is transformed into actions aimed at making changes for the better in society. Participants felt a part of the process, receiving not only tools, but also support and inspiration from like-minded people. The National Youth Forum became an impetus for the development of youth initiatives and movements in Ukraine, reflecting the wealth and potential of youth.

The forum was implemented by the National Youth Council of Ukraine (NMRU) within the framework of the project "Level up of youth NGOs for the democratic future of Ukraine", which is implemented by the National Youth Council of Germany (DBJR) in partnership with the NMRU with the support of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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