The European Youth raises their voices this week in Brussels at Yo!Fest 2015

European Youth Insights is a platform provided by the European Youth Forum and the European Sting, to allow young people to air their views on issues that matter to them. The following entry is written by Allan Päll, Secretary General of the European Youth Forum

Allan Päll

Allan Päll is the Secretary General of the European Youth Forum

YO!Fest is the European Youth Forum’s annual political festival and is our big opportunity each year to reach out to young people and youth organisations and it is also the chance to show politicians and policy makers the European Youth Forum and our members do and what matters to us.

Since its first edition in 2009, the YO!Fest has become a pan-European festival gathering together thousands of young people. This year, with the theme “grow together!” we are going to – in the context of the European Year of Development and Youth Week – showcase that development is not only about what is going on in countries far away from our shores, but it also about personal development and the work that youth organisations are doing, each and every day, to help young people and, indeed beyond the individual, their communities and societies to grow stronger together.

Through activities, including high-level debates, talks and workshops we plan to demonstrate to the EU’s leaders that young people and youth organisations, have a great deal to say. This is their opportunity to tell their story! YO!Fest is a unique way of doing that, because – taking place in the heart of the European Union on the Esplanade of the European Parliament – it is bringing young people and their concerns and demands directly to the politicians, but in a youthful and engaging way.

Highlights from this year’s YO!Fest will include the first of a series of “YO!Talks” (from 10am), examining the topic of youth participation, which will bring together five exceptional young people who have bucked the trend and become engaged with politics and hear their stories and recommendations for change. They will be joined by the Youth Forum’s president Johanna Nyman and young MEP Brando Benifei.

A “YO!Debate” (12–1pm) will bring together experts and policy makers to discussQuality jobs & development: how far can quality jobs drive economic development?”. There will be a high level debate “Youth and the city” (4-6pm) exploring how in the context of crisis, young people across Europe are reimagining how they interact with their cities. This debate will bring together mayors of past and future European Youth Capitals.

Yet again the YO!Village will be brought back to the Espalanade of the European Parliament where our members and other partners have the chance to illustrate their work and its impact.

As always with YO!Fest it’s not just politics and debates and the day will draw to a close with an unmissable concert with Massilia Sound System, a band from Marseille, headlining this year’s YO!Fest. They will be supported by Swedish band Movits! and before that by the two winners of YO!Fest’s Emerging Bands Contest, Belgian bands Ides Moon and Man on Fire & The Soul Soldiers.       

We’re really excited about bringing our members and partners to the heart of the EU to show policy makers and young people alike what they are doing to help young people grow together! Development is not only something that is happening in other countries in far away continents; it happens every day, in our communities and youth organisations are at the heart of developing young people and society. We hope, as well as some key policy debates and discussions, that this year’s YO!Fest will build bridges and interconnect people, and this is what the European Youth Forum members, youth organisations, are achieving every day!

The YO!Fest isn’t your standard institutional event, it’s much more than that! It’s about having fun together, debating together and working together to come up with solutions and answers to help Europe’s young people.

Let’s bring the EU out of the “EuroBubble”!

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