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Unlocking Klaipeda’s youth potential: Summer in 2021’s European Youth Capital


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Ivan Neirotti

2021 is the year of Klaipeda, a city situated on the Lithuanian coast. We were delighted to award Klaipeda with the title back in 2018, impressed by their goals and initiatives to get young people involved in developing youth policy. Despite the pandemic, Klaipeda have been determined to reach their objectives and connect the Youth Capital year to as many young people as possible!

To find out more, we asked Aleksandra Lobaškova, General Affairs Coordinator, to give us insight into their summer programme and what we can expect this month.

Hi Alexandra, you have a lot of exciting events coming up in August, including an International symposium for LGBT+ friendly youth policy development and a mega concert! Tell us what inspired these events?

One of the major goals of our European Youth Capital year is to show how important diversity and openness are, especially when thinking about Klaipeda's city strategy. This is why a platform called “COLOURS” was created. The platform aims to raise public awareness, encourage openness, reduce public homophobia and increase the sense of security among groups who can often feel excluded. We realised that in order to unlock Klaipeda’s unexplored youth potential, we needed to ensure that we could provide more opportunities for everyone of all backgrounds to be involved. By admitting that selective solidarity is common in Klaipeda, thanks to the “COLOURS” platform’s events we want to make a positive change together not only on a local, but also on a national level.

In the past, investments have been provided mostly to “comfortable” youth groups. As a matter of fact, the groups including individuals with specific needs and national minorities have received little attention. A particular focus of EYC 2021 is now dedicated to LGBT+ groups who have been generally considered as “non-existent”. Unfortunately, such gaps in the city’s youth policy have had a strong impact on young people’s decision to leave the city.

What are you most looking forward to about the Symposium?

We’re really looking forward to the Symposium on LGBT+, aimed at creating friendly youth policy, and the Mega concert, both happening on 28 August. The key message of the concert is to show the audience that even though we are all different, we are all equal.

We hope that this event will become a starting point for forming a new, national LGBT+ strategy plan as well as youth traditions, serving as an example of a positive change not only for Lithuanian, but also for the European cities.

What is the legacy you hope to create with these different events?

By organizing large-scale events this month such as the Symposium on LGBT +, Sign language and Colors Mega concert as well as different art installations and workshops we want to set an inspiring tone that will encourage young people to take first steps towards building an inclusive society. Young people will be able to get involved as ChooseKlaipeda volunteers and ambassadors in the organisation and implementation of the “COLOURS” platform events.

Young people will also have an opportunity to share their ideas and opinions on the creation of new LGBT + policy, be invited to take part in the discussions, expressive art workshops and brainstorming processes in order to come up with new and creative solutions for the city.

If you want to discover more about events organised by Klaipeda check out their 2021 programme calendar!
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