How can we strengthen young people's sense of community?
Nothing gets young people going like sport. Moving around frees the mind, brings fun to the community, encourages creativity and enthusiasm to run wild, and sets ideas in motion. That could be the motto for Generation25. But that's actually the motto for Philipp and his initiative 'Kinder. Skaten. Lassen.' (Let Kids Skateboard).
Philipp, 21, started learning to skateboard five years ago. At first, it was just a way for him to rebel against his parents, but he soon realised that it was about so much more than that. Community, recognition and the question of 'who do I want to be?’
When he moved to Berlin three years ago, with his skateboard under his arm, he soon found somewhere where he'd fit in. He saw that the highly interconnected, open and tolerant skateboarding scene was everywhere to be found and he never felt alone there. It didn't matter where you came from or what your social background was. Philipp's experience made him see that skateboarding promoted integration... and the idea for Kinder. Skaten. Lassen. was born, with the aim of providing young people with support and stability, on and off the skateboard. "At the same time," Philipp explains, "they're not only doing some physical activity, but getting into other fields like art, music or languages; there are skateboard logos and videos, and the names of the tricks are all in English."
As for the question of how we can strengthen young people's sense of community, Generation25 once again answered full of passion, involvement and – as cheesy as it may sound – charity:
"We should launch projects especially for young people and make it clear that we are all the same." (Angelo, 16)
"Show young people how important they are to Germany and the world and let them take on their own responsibilities." (Jonathan, 17)
Generation25 has shown concern for the next generation, and is calling for the rest of society to show this compassion, as demonstrated by a comment from 19-year-old Michaela.
"By society and politicians reaching out to them, LISTENING to their wishes and concerns, their hopes and fears."
Generation25 all agree that sport, clubs for young people and initiatives like Philipp's all reinforce a sense of community.
"Promoting clubs and sport initiatives at schools. This gets kids to play a big part in communities from a young age." (Julien, 20)
"We need to provide children and teenagers in Germany with the opportunity to come into their own through youth work." (Timo, 22)
"Children should get into more types of community sports and join clubs offering all-day lessons." (Benni, 24)
Projects like Kinder. Skaten. Lassen. are incredibly important. In a constantly-developing, diverse and globalised world, young people above all need an anchor, a community. A community makes our lives more pleasant, more colourful and even a bit more homely. Philipp's project is a prime example, because it shows not only how young people, but society as a whole benefit from the engagement of Generation25.
You can skate anywhere. And set ideas in motion too. So we need more places – real ones and virtual ones – where every young person has the space they need to express themselves and to be who they are. Generation25 has got the ball rolling. We really need to keep it alive.