A fall full of activities at Utøya

Despite the lockdowns and restrictions caused by covid-19, a lot has been happening in the 22 July and democratic citizenship program. “The program is buzzing with activity, and we are excited to be on our way to a “new normal”. Bringing engaged students and youth back to Utøya, developing a new digital democracy learning platform, and arranging a national training course for teachers affected by the terror attacks 22 July 2011, are some of the plans this fall,” says project manager Ingrid Aspelund. 

From the first Learning Democracy workshop at Utøya this fall, inside Hegnhuset

Every year, students, young people and teachers travel from all over Norway to participate in learning activities at the learning centre at Utøya, aiming to strengthen their democratic competences, attitudes and confidence to stand up for democratic values. 

“When we had to postpone the planned activities this spring, we used the time to plan and make the necessary adjustments to make sure that the fall at Utøya would again be filled with engaged students and youth. We are very happy to already have welcomed students and teachers to the first three-day workshop of 2020 at the beginning of September,” Aspelund explains.

11 more workshops are planned this year, in addition to day visits from school classes from nearby areas, all completed with temporary adjustments to group size and geographical outreach to be in line with existing recommendations on infection control. 

Democracy Workshops for youth clubs, youth councils and other youth groups had its first gathering at Utøya 4-6 September, and three more are planned for this fall.

“We have also started the work with a new digital learning platform, which will be developed together with Utøya, a group of young people and web- and game developers,” Aspelund continues.

The platform will be used both as a preparatory resource for future participants, but also as a tool for continued sharing and further development of partnerships between local youth groups after participation. 

“We are very excited to use our experiences from the learning program at Utøya starting in 2016, to develop a new tool with and for youth, that will promote democracy and human rights,” Aspelund explains. 

From game development workshop in September 2020

New this fall is also a national training course for teachers who are affected by the terror attacks 22 July 2011. Together with Utøya and the National Support Group of Victims of 22 July, the EWC will organise a training course where teachers will meet, exchange experiences and be introduced to relevant learning resources on how to teach about 22 July, sensitive and controversial issues, and democratic citizenship. “A number of those that were directly affected by the attacks are teachers, and several young survivors have chosen the teaching profession. Therefore, we are very happy to work together with the Wergelandcentre and Utøya to develop a separate training course for this group”, says Lisbeth Røyneland, leader of the National Support Group of Victims of 22 July.