Racism, intolerance and hate speech have increased in Italy with episodes of discrimination also on the rise among young people, inside and outside school, in formal and informal youth gathering spaces.

In the SottoSopra survey, conducted by Save the Children in secondary schools, more than 3 out of 5 students declared that they had been victims of discrimination and have experienced violence or threats on their own skin and almost 9 out of 10 were direct witnesses of discriminatory behaviors towards their friends and companions.

Also within the project Free of Rumors Youth Spaces, it emerged that within youth groups there is a strong incidence of discrimination between and against young people: homosexuality, belonging to the Roma community, obesity and being black are the main “labels” for which people risk being discriminated against, followed by being of the Islamic religion, being poor or disabled.

The significant presence of stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination phenomena prevents us from fully valuing diversity, negatively impacting the construction of inclusive cities and the sense of belonging to a global community.

To respond to this problem, the project DiversaMente – Youth against discrimination intends to promote the role of young people and the educating community as leaders of positive change in promoting the construction of more inclusive cities and societies.

Through a strategy based on the intercultural approach, on bottom-up participation in the anti-rumours methodology promoted by the Council of Europe, the project aims to contribute to the prevention and fight against discrimination by promoting the protagonism and active participation of young people at the local and national. Young people will be involved in the co-planning of city anti-rumours strategies and contrasting actions, promoted both within youth spaces and throughout the city in collaboration with local authorities. Thanks to the activation of a network of “young anti-rumours”, the actions will be promoted at a national level through awareness-raising events and campaigns to bring the voice of young people into policies to combat discrimination.

The initiative will be implemented in 5 Italian Municipalities part of the Città del Dialogo Network – the Italian network of intercultural cities of the Council of Europe of which ICEI is the technical coordinator – and involves 6 civil society organizations, 5 local authorities and 16 youth spaces.

The objective of the project DiversaMente – Youth against discrimination is to strengthen the active role of young people and the educational community of Milan, Montesilvano, Pontedera, Turin and Reggio Emilia in the construction of inclusive and intercultural cities by promoting:

  • the anti-rumours methodology among young people and youth workers as a tool to enhance diversity and promote inclusion and equality
  • local and national youth protagonism strategies to combat discrimination, enhance diversity and build inclusive societies
  • greater involvement and participation of young people in the co-planning and implementation of city strategies for the fight against discrimination and the promotion of diversity; a greater capacity for advocacy and mobilization by young people at the national level to encourage participation in the definition of public policies to combat discrimination

The beneficiaries of the project are:

  • Young people aged 15-24:  250 young people involved in the co-planning and implementation of Anti-rumors actions and 2600 interested/reached by the awareness campaigns
  • Educating community: 60 operators and educators who work in youth spaces and who benefit from a strengthening of skills and methodologies that can be used for the transfer of knowledge and the promotion of positive dynamics among young people for the fight against discrimination
  • Personnel of Municipal Authorities and National Institutions, who will have a support role in the planning and implementation of local activities in contrast to discrimination and facilitation of dissemination and sustainability at the national level
  • Citizens of the intervention cities, who will participate in public awareness and mobilization activities and will be involved through online and offline communication actions

Planned activities

The activities of the project DiversaMente – Youth against discrimination will involve the beneficiaries in a 3-steps process:

  • Training on the issues of diversity and discrimination to improve the skills of the educational community and young people for the enhancement of diversity and the fight against discrimination: operators and educators will improve their skills through training sessions on the anti-Rumours methodology and the creation of a community of practice for sharing experiences and knowledge. Young people will also acquire knowledge and skills through a capacity-building program that will explore the issues of diversity and discrimination with methodologies that place them at the center of change, in a preparatory way for the path envisaged in the subsequent results and through non-formal education and edutainment activities with the creation of an innovative “Escape rumours” which will facilitate the active involvement of young people on the issue of contrasting discrimination.
  • Protagonism and mobilization of young activists for the co-planning of local strategies to combat discrimination in collaboration with the educating community and the municipal administrations: 260 young people will be protagonists of the co-planning and implementation of Anti-Rumours actions in the 5 cities to build youth spaces “free from prejudice” and to organize events that give them a voice and visibility, involving over 1,360 young people who frequent the centers and 2,500 citizens.
  • Protagonism and mobilization of young activists to influence the definition of national public policies and the awareness of citizens for a greater valorization of diversity: the young activists of the 5 cities will reach “new spheres of influence”, strengthening their role as change-makers also in national level through the creation of a national network of “Young Anti-Rumours” who will co-design and implement advocacy actions aimed at 60 Institutions and awareness campaigns for a large audience (approximately 200,000 people reached).