There are only 2 weeks left until the upcoming local government elections in Bulgaria and only a few months until the end of the RAISE Youth project. In the context of these two significant events for the Pernik region, we asked the young people of the area what they would do if they could now become part of the local government teams in their towns and villages.
For young people from Breznik, the conditions for sports and playgrounds are a priority. They also believe that more job places and more cultural events are needed in the city. Among the main needs are the attraction of tourists, so that the city "comes to life". The most sustainable strategy of the local government, according to the youngest citizens of Breznik, is to keep people in the city and attract new ones. This can happen only with a good team that participates in all kinds of competitions and projects and in attracting investors.
Building lighting and cleaning the city and riverbeds is also a highlight in the youth's responses, as is protecting forests from deforestation.
Their peers from Radomir are of a similar opinion.
"We had a summer cinema and there were comments about how it should be renovated," they say.
In addition, parking lots are needed in the spaces between the blocks, as well as playgrounds and entertainment for the young. Building facilities for different types of sports or organizing more cultural events would undoubtedly push Radomir's young people back home.
Pernik attracts far more young people than the listed 2 smaller towns, and what would keep these youngsters there? According to them the city's outermost neighborhoods such as Teva and Daskalovo, as well as the Roma neighborhoods, should also be developed.
Another priority for them is cleanliness in the city, which they sometimes lack. Their ideas are to ennoble the parks and, like abroad, so that people can calmly sit on a blanket on the grass and have fun. More green spaces and places for sports are also needed to bring young people back to physical activity and a healthy lifestyle.
The representatives of the three cities united around the fact that if they were the mayors of the respective settlement, they would listen to and respect the opinion of the local youth. This is the only way to generate innovative ideas, keep the active workforce in these places and ensure sustainability and continuity between generations.
Similar is the task of the RAISE Youth project, which in the last 4 years invests heavily in the skills and aspirations of the region's young people. Thanks to it , hundreds went through a series of free trainings and mentoring, and some are now proud owners of business companies in the region. What's more - the activities went beyond the usual training ones by creating an infrastructure that will enable work after the end of the project and thus ensure the sustainability of the results - through the Tourist Cooperative and the 2 non-governmental organizations that are officially registered as legal entities ; through the developed tourist routes, the tourist mobile application, the Raise Graovo embroidery workshop , the tourist chatbot for Pernik and the greenhouse, which is under construction.
However, the real investment is in the people - we worked side by side with alert young people from the region, who inspired us with strength and courage that development can also take place outside the capital.
The beneficiaries of the project will now become active executors and drivers of future change, as a result of all that is developed and remains in the region. Today, the team of Regional RAISE Youth Center can be proud of competence and independence and can be a faithful assistant and even a partner of the future local government in the region!
Such are the young people of Pernik - willing, able and knowledgeable, it is up to us to give them a hand, because IF THEY WERE POLITICIANS, we would all live more sustainably, greener, braver and undoubtedly more smiling!
The RAISE Youth project, implemented by the Center for Development of Sustainable Communities, covers over 500 young people aged between 18 and 29, living in the municipalities of Pernik, Breznik, Trun, Radomir, Zemen and Kovachevtsi, who are not currently involved. Within its framework, various trainings for career and personal development are passed, and the most active 20 participants will be provided with additional training and mentoring assistance to start their own business.
The RAISE Youth project is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment.