Listen, Learn, Motivate … Or The Youth Health Conference 2009

Author: Denisa Caldararu

Youth Health Conference

Youth Health Conference

Brussels. 200 young Europeans. Tens of speakers. Lots of information, discussions and initiatives. This is the summary of the first Youth Health Conference held in Brussels from the 8th to the 10th of July.

Conference on the health of young people

Conference on the health of young people

The conference was an initiative of the European Health Commission that wants to involve young people in policy making regarding issues that concern them directly. The three days of tight scheduled activities included workshops, conferences and round tables in which people involved in organizations and EU work dialoged with the young people present.

The subjects of interest for the discussions were the main problems for youth health nowadays: alcohol and drug use, healthy environment, sexual and mental health, partnerships for a healthier society, the effect of the economical regression on healthy lifestyles, informal learning and workplace health. Throughout the workshops young people got the chance to talk about issues, problems and initiatives and make a list of suggestions that they presented in the plenary session discussions. During the sessions, after each speaker’s presentation, everyone had the chance to ask whatever remained unclear and comment on the affirmations.

The event had two special guests: the Commissioner on health of the European Union, Androulla Vassiliou and Princess Laurentine of the Netherlands. They opened the session and pointed out the main purposes of the conference.

The Commissioner summarized her expectations from the event in three words: listen, learn, motivate. Listen to what young people have to say, learn from their advice, experience, needs and motivate them to get actively involved in youth health policy making.

The Youth Health Conference was organized by the European Commission in cooperation with the European Youth Forum and other youth organizations. Its aim was to involve young people in the decision making process and generate commitment from stakeholders to improve the health of young people.

About 400 people attended. This included young people across Europe, youth organizations representatives, health professionals and EU Institutions representatives.

This is the first edition of the Youth Health Conference, but the Commissioner assured us that it wouldn’t be a singular event.