In Italy, thousands of young people carry out independent socio-cultural projects on a daily basis. They do this because they believe in their territory and want to enhance it, creating future opportunities for themselves and their community. Mapping, aggregating and coordinating these realities is not an easy job, but it is necessary to bring out the phenomenon and address it effectively starting from data and empirical evidence of its conformation.

WAVES is the first network that unites youth socio-cultural realities on the Italian territory, already counting more than 50, with the goal of connecting them nationwide, mapping their presence on the territory and confronting with policy-makers, bringing out this phenomenon that is as widespread as it is invisible.

The network works on three actions:

  • Research: to empirically investigate the phenomenon through participatory mapping of the territory.

  • Community building: to contaminate the ideas and projects and disseminate shared skills.

  • Advocacy: to bring out projects at the national level and directly confront policy makers.

The importance of establishing a project network such as Waves lies not only in its goals and activities, but more importantly in the fact that the very need for its establishment came from below, from the founding activity of three youth association realities, from their direct experience in the field, and from the conviction that the true value of youth socio-cultural activism for the community does not lie in the size of the projects, let alone in the legal form of the entity proposing them.

The academic literature has shown how merely taking part in associative activities increases the future opportunities of young people, how territorial spillovers come through both the content of the action and the sense of community that socio-cultural activism instills in younger people, and how there is a need for greater coordination between grassroots initiatives and public and private entities that deal with youth, social and cultural policies.

Waves, starting from the realities that have already joined, aims first of all to expand the number and territorial dispersion of the projects involved, in order to become the national reference point on youth socio-cultural activism. The main objective is to give prominence to this phenomenon in order to establish, starting from research and mapping activities, an effective dialogue with those who deal with youth policies (a dialogue already partially started, gaining enormous interest, with numerous local authorities at both regional and municipal levels).