Contest taps into young minds to improve city life


Youth in Aalst are asked to send in their great ideas to improve life in the city – be it culturally, politically or economically – and the winners will see their projects realised

Winners get €5,000

Until the end of April, youngsters in Aalst are invited to submit an idea for a project that will improve life in their city. Anyone who takes part in the competition will be invited to city hall to refine their ideas.

IDCity, sponsored by the Prince Filip Fund, part of the King Baudouin Foundation, is now in its third year. There are two editions a year, each in a different city.

“The goal is to give young people the chance to contribute to the well-being in their city,” says co-ordinator Sarah Reyn. “This way, we involve them in the urban social fabric and support the development of their talents.”

Previous winners of the IDCity contest have included a video creation lab and an urban sport parcours to help newcomers get to know the city. The suggestions need to have a social impact, but can target very different aspects of urban life such as culture, work, sport, media, the environment and politics.

Anyone between 16 and 25 who live, study or work in the host city can participate by posting their proposal on the IDCity website. “With the help of local partners, we make extra efforts to reach youngsters who are not yet part of youth organisations,” says Reyn.

Pro guidance

All participants are invited to the contest’s IDCity Day, which this year takes place on 28 April in Aalst. Through workshops with experts, they can refine their proposal and learn about techniques to make a business plan and pitch a proposal to potential investors.

At the end of the day, candidates choose three winners themselves. The winners receive a cash prize of up to €5,000 and professional guidance to realise their project.

Towards the end of the year, it will be the turn of youth in Brussels-City to present their ideas. Previous editions have taken place in Mechelen, Kortrijk, Schaarbeek and Charleroi.

We both involve them in the urban social fabric and support the development of their talents

- Sarah Reyn, IDCity co-ordinator

A winner in Kortrijk set up the Video Creator Lab, a platform offering youngsters workshops in making videos and vlogging, together with the media lab Quindo. Another youth from the same city revived the Redside football team for disadvantaged youth, to have fun together with attention to values such as fair play and respect.

In Mechelen, two young social entrepreneurs started up the talent coaching project Renescitia, which supports other youngsters in exploring and strengthening their skills – so they can set up their own initiatives.

In the Brussels municipality of Schaarbeek, three youngsters initiated the Know to Flow project, which provides introductory lessons in Parkour to young newcomers. Parkour is a training programme that requires participants to get from one point to the next quickly and efficiently in a complex – mostly urban – environment.

Parkour trainees must run, climb and jump to get where they’re going. Reyn: “The newcomers learn to overcome physical but also mental obstacles, which can help them in their integration.”