Giving Young People A Chance

Hello! My name is Mari Hulkko. I’ve come to Cyprus from Finland to do my internship in Youth Work and Civic Action with HASDER. I think it is funny how good the terms Youth Work and Civic Action sound together. Many organisations and associations which work in the field of Civic Activity usually have a lot of young people as their members. At least this is how I see the situation in Finland. So these two things, Civic Action and Youth Work, can be, and usually are, very close to each other. After all, one of the most important goals in the field of Youth Work is to support young people in their efforts to become Active Citizens.


I chose to make this my field of studies because I believe in the youth of today. The first couple of decades of our lives are a crucial period of growth, experimentation and formation. It is the time when we put down the foundations for who we want to be for the rest of our lives and what kind of future we want to have. I want to help other young people develop their abilities and reach their dreams.


At my school they always tell us how important it is to let the young ones take initiative and make decisions by themselves. They talk about participation. Last year I was doing practical training in this youth house and we decided to arrange a disco party for children. Instead of employees arranging the party, it was organized, planned and put together by the teenagers and young adults that were members of the youth house. So it was not only a fun experience for the children who came, but it was probably an even more valuable experience for the youngsters who made it happen, because it empowered and showed them that it really doesn’t take much effort to make a wonderful difference in other people’s lives.


Many times adults are so stuck in their old habits and their dated ways of dealing with things, that they are quite unable to create anything new. This is why the young people are the key to developing societies that can offer a better place for every one of its citizens. We, the young ones, are eager, full of ideas and energy! We demand to be heard and to be provided with opportunities to show everyone what amazing surprises lay hidden in our sleeves! With our curiosity, imagination and creativity we present a truly valuable resource for this world.


Therefore it is extremely important for us to be provided not only with pleasant free-time activities, but also ways to express ourselves and places where our voices can be heard. Sometimes, an activity that appears to be just a hobby, can actually mean so much more for a young person who wants to belong somewhere, or has a need to express his or her feelings. I saw a very touching play in 2011, which was entirely scripted and performed by teenagers. The play was about alcohol consumption among their peers. It really took the viewer inside the life of a teenager and showed the real anxiety, pressures, fears and situations they have to face. Young people already have a lot of the knowledge; we just need the tools to bring it out and make it work.


In my experience as a Youth Worker I’ve come to realize that when we support Active Citizenship in young people we empower them and help them shape society. And every member of our society has something to gain from this. Because this is the way we get young adults who are not afraid to make a difference, who really care for their fellow citizens. This is how we get people who work for sustainable peace. When we invest in Youth Work we invest in the future.


Mari Hulkko, 2012

Mari Hulkko, Youth Worker