Diverse youth gave the Estonian Education and Youth Board input for a Participation e-Platform

On 9-11 December, 60 youngsters took part in the Youth e-Participation Hack [officially called Noorte Osalus(e)häkk] to give input for the development of a Participation e-Platform.

Despite making up a fifth of the Estonian population, the role of young people in society has been significantly decreasing over the past years. This is due to the low involvement of young people in councils, a language barrier between professionals and youngsters and out-of-date participation methods. Nowadays, youth are most vocal on social media, but unfortunately, governments aren’t able to or don’t know how to take that input into account on an official level. In their pitches, teams also pointed out that even if they did want to contribute to society, they aren’t taken seriously and aren’t trusted to make any important decisions.

Next year, the Estonian Education and Youth Board is planning on developing a Participation e-Platform to encourage young people to contribute to society in a way that best suits them and have a say in their futures. At the Youth e-Participation Hack, 60 youngsters aged 13-26 prototyped functionalities for the platform, for example, idea submission, news about political plans, and discussion forums. All of these functionalities were prototyped at the hackathon. In addition, teams worked on branding, marketing and the overall image of the platform.

As prototyping was a novel concept for most participants, the event didn’t follow a classic hackathon format. Instead, the agenda was designed around workshops focusing on the most important parts of the platform - functionalities, feedback, prototyping, and pitching.

It was crucial that the input for the development of the platform would include opinions of youth with different backgrounds to ensure that the platform itself would be used not only by those who are actively interested in politics but by all youth. Thus, in the participant selection process, we looked at applicants’ age, gender, location, interest and previous experience in youth participation. After all, politics shape everyone’s future so they should all get a say in it.

The e-Platform will be a great companion for both young people and people working with them and encourage strong cooperation. When creating something novel for a certain segment of the population, it is extremely important to first turn to those who actually be using it. That’s exactly what we did within the framework of this hackathon. A huge thank you to everyone who participated!

- Roger Tibar, Direction Manager of Smart Youth Work and Youth Participation 

at The Education and Youth Board

At the finals, nine teams pitched their ideas about what they thought the participation platform should look like. Solutions included webpages, an opinion festival, an “idea Tinder” and other phone apps.

Maria Rahamägi, Founder of Edumus gave an inspirational talk before the finals

All of the teams exceeded our expectations with their skills, ideas, creativity and motivation, which made the jury’s job remarkably difficult. Ultimately, all of the teams received recognition at the award ceremony and input from all of the teams will be taken into consideration when the tender for the e-Participation Platform will be put together.

- Noora Ustav, Project Manager at Garage48

This platform will also be used by local governments who will be able to get direct feedback on their ideas, introduce plans to youth, and engage them in a way that’s convenient for everyone. Insight from the government’s perspective will be gathered next year.  

As with everything else in life, nothing happens alone. Teams were supported by awesome mentors: Helen Kokk, Triin Preem, Maret Kruve, Maido Parv and Koit-Georg Peterson. To keep the energy high, we had Anna-Christi-Karita Aruksaar join us as a Youth Coordinator. Keeping an eye on everyone were chaperones Nelli Kuldmaa, Kristiina Akulitš, Taavi Kärt, Markus Linnukütt, Mai-Triin Kõrgeperv, Anneli Meisterson and Leela Ehasalu. The jury consisted of Kristiina Valk from The Education and Youth Board, Maria Rahamägi from Edumus, and our mentors Helen, Maido, and Koit. Thank you all!

Mentors Maido Parv, Triin Preem, Maret Kruve and Helen Kokk

Meet the teams:

Overall winner: Tigers

Team Tigers created an app called Idekas which was quickly nicknamed the “idea Tinder”. On the Idekas app, users vote on idea submissions by swiping right if they like it, or left if they don’t – just like you would on Tinder. Each idea’s profile has a description of the project, the names of the people behind it alongside other important information. If an idea passes a certain threshold percentage of likes (or right swipes), it will be sent to the local government for consideration.

The team won gift cards, a book and “Ainult üks” board games courtesy of Brain Games.

Screenshot of the Idekas app webpage

First runner-up: Kihnu Minks

Originally called the Minks, the team renamed themselves to pay homage to the late Kihnu Virve. The team created a website with a core focus on a forum where people can discuss ideas and vote on the best ones.

The team won smart gardens, gift cards and tickets to the Proto Invention Factory.

Screenshot of the team's website prototype

Second runner-up: Seals

Team Seals created a mockup for an app called Tõll where youth can submit initiatives to their local governments. Their peers vote on the ideas related to their county and all ideas that receive support from 1% of citizens in their voting region will be submitted to the local government for further action.

The team won annual passes to the Energy Discovery Centre, gift cards and notebooks courtesy of SEIK.

Screenshot of the Seals' prototype

Special prizes:

Most Original Idea: Pandas

While other teams focused primarily on initiative submissions and discussions, the Pandas went in a bit of a different direction. Their website brings together information about hobbies, job offers, tutoring, events and talents – everything for youth.

On Friday, Koit told us that we should have fun over the weekend, so we held onto that and that’s exactly what we did! We had a great time with our team. Even now, while I’m pitching, our team is just chatting away at the table.

- Member of team Panda during the final pitch

Screenshot of "Noorte Veebikas" – team Panda's website

Most Fun: Sloths

Team Sloths stood out to the jury with their positive attitude and the amount of fun they had during the event. The team prototyped an app where people can vote on ideas and discuss ideas with their peers.

Screenshot of team Sloth's iOS App prototype

The Most Progress (0 to hero): Llamas

Team Llamas had a hard time getting started, but by the end of the weekend, managed to put together a proper web prototype on Marvel. Applause for the quick progress in the 11th hour! What made their web unique is the fact that you can zoom in to read ideas on a country, county or city/town/village level.

Screenshot of team Llama's website

Best Energy: Owls

From the first moments of the hackathon, this team stood out with their energy. They were the first to answer questions, constantly helped other teams, and kept spirits high among everyone in the room.

They created a prototype for a website where everyone can share problems they want the government to solve or submit ideas. Despite coming to the event with little design or development experience, the team managed to create a working Gmail integration which connects the idea submission box to the team’s email.

I definitely want to keep working on this idea after the hackathon! I already have plans to get in touch with our local government and schools.

- Member of Team Owls

Screenshot of team Owl's prototype

Survival: Hedgehogs

While other teams created tech solutions, Team Hedgehogs took participation into the real world by creating an idea for a youth-centric opinion festival called ENAF – a spin-off of the popular Opinion festival taking place every year in Paide. 

ENAF is enough!

Their team worked through team dynamic issues and came out victorious by presenting their team at the finals as a united front.

Screenshot of team Hedgehog's website

Phoenix: Giraffes

Team Giraffes pivoted their idea at the last minute, helping them rise from the ashes like a Phoenix. In less than 24h after their pivot, they managed to put together a clickable website on a Wix template featuring idea submissions and blog articles to share updates. They started their pitch with a rap about their project and brought the energy up among everyone in the room.

Screenshot of team Giraffe's website

The Youth e-Participation Hack was organised by the Estonian Education and Youth Board and Garage48 and was funded by the EEA and Norway Grants as part of the “Digital leap in the field of youth” project. The event was sponsored by SEIK, Brain Games, Proto Invention Factory, Energy Discovery Centre and Vitamin Well.

About the author

jana saastamoinen

Jana is the Marketing Manager at Garage48 with years of experience in event and digital marketing. ☀️

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