AMORPHA YOUTH FOUNDATION has a long-term commitment to youth mainstreaming, or withstanding the perspective of young people in public policies and in decision-making in the local and international community.
The group was cofounded by several young people (aged at the time 28, 19, 18 and 17 years) in 2009 in Varna, Bulgaria, encouraged by the success of an urban youth festival and several other youth activities which we ran together according to our urban interests. We soon became convinced that the quality and audience associated with our events for young people by young people would birng forth more of our work. Our main goal is to provide support to young people through urban initiatives and events to shape themselves into capable, informed and responsible independent individuals who are also members of communities and conscious of their issues and dynamics. We believe this is also the best way to change attitudes based on prejudice instead of knowledge and experience.
We also take special interest in women’s empowerment though in a less overt manner. Hence, our approach can be identified as combining youth mainstreaming and gender mainstreaming as the core of all our initiatives. We apply this approach to achieve our goal of capacity building in young people in activities in different spheres of interest to young people, including the arts, science, architecture, urban culture etc.
Soon after launching Amorpha, we adopted the mission to bring policy change into the youth sector and lobby the local authorities to recognise non-formal groups of young people as project beneficiaries and this change as a key step to actual youth-led youth work (convinced that young people especially teenagers rarely registered organisations to turn their interests into shared activities). Two years later the authorities took our standpoint into account and have since funded the activities of more and more new non-formal groups. This is in line with Amorpha’s understanding of successful youth work as youth-led (led by young people themselves for themselves and for other young people). The practice is a strategic tool which fosters youth initiative, responsibility, improved self-awareness, understanding others, growing. Logically, such administrative and financial responsibilities help personal and professional growth and have an impact on preparedness for employment, perform tasks, take responsibility, work with others.
At the same time, although we always strive towards parity in our events, especially areas in which girls and women are underrepresented, we have been visibly successful in one particular field, urban art. We have brought to the scene of graffiti and street art women artists who had been ridiculed and sidelined as a whole. Through numerous events working with artists at different stage of their development, we helped establish the importance of the female-dominated street art scene (in street art vs. graffiti) and build recognition of female artists in both areas. We are currently expanding this interest into the topic of urban art and urban planning in relation to the process of placemaking in the community.