“If you want something, make it happen yourself” has been my motto since I entered the youth field in Estonia almost 10 years ago.
It all started when I was in my 7th grade and decided to join the school student union. That was the beginning of everything; I had my first management experiences there.
After discovering my passion and increasing my desire to become even more active in the youth field, I had the opportunity to lead the local youth council in my hometown Haapsalu and to lead the country level youth council later on.
Thanks to the work done in these two councils, in 2012 I was awarded the “Young person of the year” award in my hometown and also in my country.
After these experiences, it became clear to me that working with young people and advocating for including youngsters in local and national level decision making processes was what I really had to do and invest my efforts in.
However, sometimes you need a bit of a break, and in my case, sport plays a very important role. It is for this reason that I have played volleyball for over 13 years, I also like to play tennis and right now I am quite into disc golf. This is also why I decided to create my own dance group and was a trainer of about 100 students for almost three years.
A few years later, I had the opportunity to become the chairman of the National Youth Council in Estonia for three years (2018-2020). In it, we advocate for youth organisations and also try to actively influence the public opinion and legislative environment to be more supportive of young people.
Since youth organisations are the main creators of youth programmes, influencing the active participation of young people, our job was to support them as much as possible. We also advocated for the inclusion of young people in decision-making processes and represented Estonian youth positions in various decision-making bodies.
During the years when I was the chairman, the youth council had 56 youth associations and 36 youth councils as members. And in total, the network involved about 25,000 young people between the ages of 7 and 26. The council was mainly financed by the Ministry of Education and Research and also from other ministries, as well as from EU funds. In addition, we also worked to generate our own income, e.g. through training courses.
In my last year in office, I received the “Youth worker of the year” award which was a great milestone for me. I have great memories of my years at the National Youth Council, where every new initiative and project offered a unique experience.
I gained a lot as a professional, for example I had the opportunity to negotiate with the Ministry of Education and Research to agree on a new funding system for youth associations; I participated in the drafting of the Estonia 2035 strategy document; and we organised a series of events for the 2019 elections, among many other experiences.
In it, I also learned the importance of measuring the impact of the activities carried out. As more and more attention is paid to the collection and management of up-to-date statistical data, it is important to learn from others and also to experiment ourselves in order to improve.
But it was in 2021 when I fulfilled my biggest dream. Ever since, my dream has been to become an active member in my hometown. And it was in the 2021 elections that I managed to gain the trust of the people, and get a spot in Haapsalu Town Council.
Apart from that, right now I also work as a host in different events like seminars, galas, etc. I love being in front of big crowds, and being able to talk about empowering young people and seeing their personal growth. These are the things that motivate me and keep me giving more every day.
For young people interested in activism and unsure whether to start in this world or not, I would like to quote one of my favourite quotes: “The only thing that could happen when you take a chance is that you will get richer in experience”.
Give it a try! You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. Look for people you trust, people who think or have the same interests as you, to motivate each other. Creating a motivating work environment is also of great importance.