Association of Estonian Open Youth Centres is the umbrella organisation for 169 youth centres across Estonia. British Council Estonia supports a youth entrepreneurship programme called ‘Pick Up – British Special.’
The programme is open for youth from vulnerable backgrounds aged 7 to 26, who are asked to form teams of at least 3, and come up with an event or project on two themes: creating cooperation between youth from different language and cultural backgrounds, and introduction of Estonian or Russian culture through different activities. Youngsters submit poster proposals, which are uploaded on social media, where the 5 winners will be chosen by popular vote. Another 10 winners will be selected by a committee of British Council and the Association of Estonian Open Youth Centres.
Each winning team will receive €1000 to carry out their idea. The teams will have mentors from their local youth centres, but the condition is that all activities must be done and organised by the organising team, and at least 30 other youth should be able to participate in the event they organise.
Last year a group of participants organised ‘open kitchens’ to learn to cook dishes from various cultures represented in Estonia, another group organised a language café, where they learned each-other’s languages, but also about each other’s cultures, and one of the teams gave two SOS children’s homes a chance to meet and get to know each other, overcoming language and cultural barriers. “Communicating with people from a different cultural background will be easier from now on, and everything about them seems so interesting! I hope this event will become a tradition so that young people in our community will be able to freely communicate with each other,” one language café participant said.