Who If Not You(th) is a FORUM 16 program that focuses on youth empowerment and activism. Its name originatesfrom our“Who If Not You(th)”initiative, which beganin 2015 with mentoring by FORUM 16of four high school students (Maria Kostovska, Mario Kjurchievski, Vladimir Ristevski and Bojana Popovska) in the process of project development. The aim of the initiative was to raise the awareness of young people about opportunities in their local community and the contribution they can make by organizing events on different topics. The initiative was planned after a survey the team conducted in several high schools in Bitola, in which problems facing young people in Bitola were identified. Eight workshops were organized in the original initiative; presented over a period of weeks on topics such as Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Presentation skills, Activism and Project management.
From this initiative, FORUM 16 developed its approach to youth involvement and leadership, directly involving young people in the design and implementation of its youth-centred programming and incorporating youth activists into the governing body of the association. This has resulted in the evolution of the association to its current status as a Youth Organization recognized by the European Youth Foundation.
The next stage of this program was creation of the association’s Who if not You(th) Academy, a week-long residential program providing a more concentrated and intensive approach to youth leadership development. Members of the FORUM 16 Youth Team were employed to provide support and lead activities within the Academy programme.As with the original initiative, the Academy helped to identify a new group of volunteers, which has helped to focus activities more directly on human rights and advocacy. This group was key todesign and implementation of the association’s project “New Generation of Youth Leaders Against Hate Speech”, which provided training for students and staff of six Bitola high schools and further expanded FORUM 16’s team of youth volunteers. These and other members of FORUM 16’s volunteer Youth Team are now at work developing KinoBit and other activities of the association’s (ST)ART program.