Youth councils from the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB) and other local municipalities are organizing events in an effort to improve young people’s personal development, sense of civic and social responsibility, knowledge and academic skills, as well as to urge them to take an interest in Turkey’s current affairs.
The İBB Youth Council, together with youth councils from nearby municipalities, provide young people with a wide range of activities such as concerts, workshops, sports, conferences and seminars. They promote young people’s decision-making processes and encourage them to produce solutions to Turkey’s problems.
The İBB Youth Council has made great efforts in this respect so far. It organized a workshop on March 17-18 in cooperation with the Youth Council of the World Academy for Local Government and Democracy (WALD) and the Turkish Students’ Council, on integrating the voices of İstanbul’s young people with the process of drafting a new constitution.
A number of deputies, academics and lawyers -- including former Chief Public Prosecutor Sacit Kayasu -- attended the workshop, where young people presented their opinions and expectations for the new constitution. The workshop declaration, which includes all these opinions, will be rewritten as a proposal that will ultimately be submitted to Parliament’s Constitutional Commission.
The İBB Youth Council has also recently launched a project called “Seven libraries in seven regions,” in which council members collect and donate second-hand books to create libraries around Turkey.
The İBB Youth Council has been a meeting place for young İstanbulites since its foundation on May 19, 2005. The council currently includes around 1,000 volunteer members and 15 commissions working in different areas. The European Union Commission, the Law and Human Rights Commission, the Culture and Arts Commission and the Social Solidarity Commission are just a few. Any qualifying person can volunteer in any of these commissions.
Speaking to Sunday’s Zaman, council member Tuba Tırın said the council acts as a non-partisan nongovernmental organization. Tırın said the commissions, consisting of at least 15 members under the age of 26, convene once a week to discuss Turkey’s current issues and discuss solutions to its problems.
Tırın said the council is organizing the third edition of the Graffiti Festival, which is set to take place in July at Taksim’s Gezi Park.
“Our aim is to channel young people’s energy into a positive outlet by providing a multicultural artistic platform that serves to develop an understanding of graffiti art in İstanbul,” Tırın said.
Last year’s festival, which involved approximately 60 graffiti artists from all over Turkey and Europe, allowed participants the opportunity to display their creative flair on a two-and-a-half-meter-high wall, constructed around the perimeter of the leafy city oasis.
Another outstanding event organized last year by the İBB Youth Council was the International Youth Council; an event that sought to build a platform for young people to share and develop their ideas on the social and political affairs of Turkey. The event included participants from all around the world who brought young perspective to Turkey’s foreign policy issues. Tırın said the council’s Research and Development Commission is organizing a similar event, scheduled to take place in October.
The Bahçelievler Municipality Youth Council has also accomplished many successful projects that aimed to improve youths’ personal development and knowledge.
The most recent event organized by the council, the “Youth Development Academy,” consisted of 17 seminars that addressed various issues, delivered by renowned academics, columnists and mayors.
“A total of 600 university students had the opportunity to attend these seminars,” Eyüp Karadağ, chairman of the Bahçelievler Youth Council, told Sunday’s Zaman. He added that the closing ceremony of the event will take place next week, which Education Minister Ömer Dinçer will also attend.
Karadağ defined the Youth Development Academy as an imitation university, in which students had the opportunity to ask questions to speakers on Turkey’s political, social and educational issues.
In a project similar to that of the İBB Youth Council, a group of 35 Bahçelievler Youth Council members drafted a 40-page proposal for the new constitution, and submitted it last week to Parliament’s Constitutional Commission.