Name of organisation/institution:
Offene Jugendarbeit Lauterach/Open Youth Work Lauterach

Type of structure:
Youth centre/club

Vorarlberg, Austria

Short description:
The idea is to reach young people through the method of open discussions at the youth center. Performing roundtables will allow to take up social taboo topics with young people to channel and to visualize various positions.

Target group:
Young people who do not consider themselves as children anymore or are no longer   perceived as children and at the same can`t be considered as adults because of their social situation.
Special focus is set on young people with migrant origin, young people with disabilities or educational shortcomings and young people facing poverty.

Age of participants:
12-20 years old

Methods used:
If you work in a youth center you probably are familiar with radical, anti-Semitic or racist statements of some youngsters. Such statements could be a starting point for a discussion evening as there usually is no possibility of a profound argument in everyday life. On the discussion evenings, young people should be given the chance to speak out anti-democratic or radical attitudes in order to get them out of the taboo area and open up the possibility to rethink through it with a careful and value-neutral accompaniment. During the discussions, it should be possible to express those taboos without having to fear censorship or sanctions. Thus, the taboos are treated as open and objective themes. The different positions of the participants should be visualized in order to raise awareness and to focus on sensitive positions.  External speakers or discussion leaders develop this event. In this occasion, the youth workers stay in the background, taking care of the setting and using the chance to get new inputs for further monitoring.
The aim is to create a setting where the youngsters may raise questions and where protest is allowed.

Practical arrangements used:
Materials and preparation: Pleasant room (young people should feel comfortable, protected and private setting, no disturbances), flipchart, pens, drinks, snacks, writing pads for retaining thoughts, (Beamer), (Canvas). Inform all team members of the upcoming discussion. The young participants receive information about the external persons who come in the youth center for the discussion board and what they are going to do. Criteria for the selection of the discussion leaders: Depending on the group constellation (gender) two leaders (male / female), experience in working with young people, intercultural competence, multi-language competence, knowledge of regional structures.

The idea is to reach young people through discussions at the youth center. Performing roundtables will allow taking up social taboo topics with young people to channel and to visualize various positions.

Issues address:

  • Religion, criticism of religion, freedom of religion
  • Recognition (From which persons do I like to receive recognition and to whom I give recognition?)
  • Respect (Which persons do I respect and from whom I want to be respected?) Friendship (What is friendship? What is the difference between a friend, a mate, a colleague …?)
  • Home (What does home mean to me? Is home a place or a feeling? Can you have more than one home?)
  • Identity (Who am I? Where am I? Where do I want to go? What can I decide for myself and what not?)
  • Responsibility (What’s this? For what can one be responsible? What are the advantages and disadvantages of being responsible?)
  • Democracy,
  • Freedom of speech,
  • Justice,
  • Solidarity
  • (Social) ethics, especially civil courage
  • Sexism and patriarchy
  • Gender attributions in the youth center and in love relationship
  • Racism, xenophobia, fascism
  • Fanaticism vs. cosmopolitanism
  • Visions of the Future


  • New and already existing knowledge gets visible and touchable for the youngsters through a sensitive treatment of issues such as racism, participation, and self-efficacy.
  • The joint discussion opens up new views on personal experience and allows a personal reassessment. Through this new and distant view, it is easier to identify and use opportunities for participation.
  • A new culture of discussion could be the result of the method. Following, the ability for critical analysis of the youngsters grows and they learn how to articulate their thoughts. This is fundamental for young people who want to take part in a public discourse or would like to become active citizens.

Impacts on youngsters:
Empowerment, strengthen discussion skills, reflection, develop tolerance for ambiguity

Impacts on the organization:
Youth workers receive new inputs for their work with young people.

Partners: discussion leader

Web link with the activity:

Contact information:
Offene Jugendarbeit Lauterach
Hofsteigstraße 2a
6923 Lauterach
Tel. +43(0)6649642341