Closing conference of the Balkan Voices project held in Tirana

Over a hundred young beneficiaries, partners and stakeholders including Mediacentar Sarajevo representatives got together to celebrate success and plan the way forward of Balkan Voices, an innovative regional youth project.
Canal France International (CFI), a French media development agency, during the period 2019-2022, has successfully implemented the “Balkans Voices” project in Western Balkans in cooperation with the French Embassies and partner organisations in these countries. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the project was implemented in cooperation with Mediacentar Sarajevo.
The project aimed to support youth freedom of speech through media and information literacy (MIL) training and capacity building. A regional network of MIL trainers, established by the project, provided training for more than 2000 high school students in the region. Also, an online Media and Information Literacy (TALMIL) teaching and learning platform accessible in all the languages of the region was made available for trainers, educators and youth. Teachers, Youth Associations and CSOs were also part of the trainings. Furthermore, thanks to a successful cooperation of French media experts, fact checkers and journalism professors in these countries, around 400 journalism students were training on source verification and fact checking. 
In the same time, the project aimed to develop new media in the Balkans, as a preamble for building democratic societies and promoting freedom of media. For the first time in the region, a one-year Digital Media training and capacity building program for young influencers was made possible for 60 new media actors across the region in the fields related to human rights, gender equality, environment and climate change, literature and reading, arts and tourism promotion. The training program included a regional conference to assess the capacity building needs for the participants to this program, followed up by regional trainings, one incubation week in France, and 6 months mentorship under the lead of international media experts. The media influencers learnt about ethics, journalism, content writing, increase of audience and monetization.
Moreover, the project offered support to young talents in audiovisual through a series of six tailor made trainings provided by experts of INA (French National Institute of Audiovisual) and Ateliers Varan based on a needs assessment done by the universities. The training topics included script writing for web series, documentaries, role of art in citizenship, shooting techniques etc. The project has also financially supported two ad-hoc film projects: Things that bring us together by Europa Prima, North Macedonia, which prepared a documentary on the Balkans youngsters' views on their future as well as Cheta Balkanika, which use comedy and satire at the heart. Both projects were implemented based on a participatory approach involving script writers, film directors, artists and youngsters from the WB6.
The project made Balkans Voices heard through learning and capacity building developing their projects.
Every single segment of the project - Developing critical thinking skills among young people with regard to the media; Strengthening the skills of the new Media contributors and Developing audiovisual and digital productions that enable young people to present their reality - was presented at the conference through three panels. Representatives of the organisations and project beneficiaries shared their experience working on the project activities and presented project results. 
Panels were followed by four simultaneous discussions on following topics: encouraging youth led media; stronger cooperation between young people through art and common cultural heritage; the importance of youth combating gender stereotypes and, accessing and sharing information among young people in the region. Mediacentar Sarajevo's representatives took part in the first panel discussion: How to encourage youth led media?
All participants gathered again to bring their insights and conclusions from all four panel discussions. Conference was concluded with recommendations on future cooperation and projects dedicated to young influencers.