Toolkit of GOOD PRACTICES on Citizen Participation!

YoungERcard / Young Protagonist

Country: Italy




The participation of young people in “Giovani Protagonisti” is free, and during the year they can join one or more actions. For each active citizenship action that involves a group of young people, a specific training is always provided concerning the activity, as well as a final meeting of evaluation among participants. The purpose is to promote, through specific educational actions, a participatory idea of democracy.
An education to participation must necessarily put together, even when involving the young, at least three objectives:
Convey, enhance and promote the mechanisms of democracy
Support actions that benefit the community, connecting them within a framework of participation in the life of the city as a whole
Support co-operation to solve a problem by forming work-groups and sharing ideas. This way, educate young people regarding the idea that they can take part in the building the well-being of their communities and that through participation they can have an effect on choices that are made.
“Giovani Protagonisti” therefore promotes actions of active citizenship among young people to enhance their sense of belonging to the community through the participation in volunteering and active citizenship projects. “Giovani Protagonisti” also wants to enhance local experiences and projects aimed at promoting, among young people, civic engagement, volunteering and education in healthy and ethically responsible lifestyles.

Target Group

The target of the measure "Giovani Protagonisti" are all young people who work, live or study in the city of Reggio Emilia and who are between 14 and 29 years old. Particular attention is given to high school classes participating in the project. The secondary beneficiaries are the teachers of the schools involved, the representatives of the associations, the families of the volunteers, and all those people who directly benefit from the actions of active citizenship of the young.


Methods and tools:
YoungERcard as a symbol of belonging to the community and as a tool of communication between city government and youth.
Website called “Portale Giovani” and related social network as tools of information, communication and dialogue about active citizenship opportunities in the city, new proposals, etc.
Orientation interviews to guide young people in making choices
Building a network of collaborative relationships with associations and high schools
Widespread distribution of youngERcard in the first classes of high schools during meetings in which “Giovani Protagonisti” will be explained.
Monitoring and on-going evaluation of the measure "Giovani Protagonisti" in the coordination group
Realization of events in which the local government (representing of citizens) recognizes the importance of the work young people have carried out.


The first stakeholder involved is the municipality, which enters into an alliance with organizations that deal with volunteering (associations, churches, schools, etc.). Both the municipality and the organizations sign an agreement in which they identify the type of the project and also a tutor within the organization (second stakeholder).
The project is promoted through various media used by young people as social networks, posters, texts, websites (,, etc.
The young (third stakeholder) interested in one of the projects make an interview with municipality workers. The interview is used to check the motivation of young people and what are their interests and skills, with the aim of finding the project that best suits them. Once chosen the project, the young will meet the tutor of the organization, who will explain their tasks more in detail.
Each project requires a commitment of 20 to 80 hours per participant. During the project municipality workers perform an informal supervision to check the on-going activity, the work that had been done and take note of any problem or difficulty.
Each young person who takes part in one of the volunteering project has to report how many hours they work for the project.
For each hour of service performed, a point will be uploaded on their YoungERcard.
At the end of the project, they will make a final report in which they have to give an evaluation of the project just ended.
Also the tutor of the organization where the project took place has to give an evaluation regarding the project (difficulties, strengths, etc.) and the young person (skills, achievements, etc.).
A certificate of attendance is also provided for the C.V. of participants.


The promotion of volunteering in society helps to spread among citizens (and thus also among young people), the awareness of commitment as a "social value", creating the conditions to build a more cohesive and human society. Volunteering activities enable young people to develop a sense of solidarity and civic duty. They become actively involved in the social framework through activities addressed to disadvantaged persons or to the care of collective goods (environment, artistic heritage etc.). Participating in volunteering projects helps the young to feel part of the society and to develop a strong sense of active citizenship. In addition, for young people volunteering activities also serve to meet and make choices in new and therefore unknown frameworks, different from the usual ones such as family and school.
The young can express their creativity, gain a greater sense of responsibility, develop organizational skills and enhance their interpersonal skills.


The promotion of active citizenship among young people has a positive impact at the local level because it directly contributes to the improvement of the well-being of people in the city, and produces a sense of belonging, new positive experiences, raising awareness on the role of citizens and on a non-stereotyped image of the young.
The actions of “Giovani Protagonisti” allow to strengthen and integrate the means of associations that already operate in the area and to start new actions promoted by the municipal administration in collaboration with the young volunteers.


1. Strengths (characteristics of the measure that give it an advantage over others):
This project is an opportunity for socialization, collaboration and growth for young people
It enables connections between institutions, schools, organizations and the environment
This project allows to identify and examine the needs of young people and also their expectations
It makes young people aware about environmental issues
It makes them aware about the importance of debate
It involves boys and girls in concrete experiences and active services
It allows to develop a network of collaboration within the area
It allows the development of new initiatives that meet the needs and expectations of the young.
2. Weaknesses (characteristics that place the measure at a disadvantage relative to others)
Despite it being a successful project, since it started in 2007 and each year more than 300 young people participate, it is difficult to reach and engage young people aged 24-29 years.
Lack of a close collaboration with universities
3. Opportunities (elements that the measure could exploit to its advantage):
Since this project has become regional, it has acquired greater social value: now all young people who live, study or work in Region Emilia Romagna can join the projects that the municipalities offer, creating a more cohesive community and more conscientious citizens.

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