The definition of young people or adults as participants of Learning projects with fewer opportunities is very broad – on purpose. The realities of the different countries around Europe (and sometimes of regions within these countries) is too diverse to have a very specific definition. e.g. a ‘poor’ person in Scandinavia might be considered ‘rich’ in Eastern Europe, a gay person in Cologne probably faces less discrimination than in a small countryside village in the Balkans, and so on.
That’s why within the European Youth in Action programme the target group is defined by the obstacles they face. The term “fewer opportunities” means that certain young people have fewer possibilities than their peers. This can be for a variety of reasons:
- Social obstacles: young people/adults facing discrimination (because of gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability, etc.), young people with limited social skills or anti-social or risky sexual behaviours, young people in a precarious situation, (ex ) offenders, (ex ) drug addicts, young and/or single parents, orphans, young people from broken families, etc.
- Economic obstacles: young people/adults with a low standard of living, low income, dependence on social welfare system, long-term unemployed youth, homeless young people, young people in debt or in financial problems, etc.
- Disability: young people with mental (intellectual, cognitive, learning), physical, sensory or other disabilities.
- Educational difficulties: young people/adults with learning difficulties, early school-leavers and school dropouts, lowly or non-qualified persons, young people that didn’t find their way in the school system, young people with poor school performance because of a different cultural/linguistic background, etc.
- Cultural differences: young/adults immigrants or refugees or descendants from immigrant or refugee families, young people belonging to a national or ethnic minority, young people with linguistic adaptation and cultural inclusion problems, etc.
- Health problems: young/adults people with chronic health problems, severe illnesses or psychiatric conditions, young people with mental health problems, etc.
- Geographical obstacles: young/adults people from remote, rural or hilly areas, young people living on small islands or peripheral regions, young/adults people from urban problem zones, young people from less serviced areas (limited public transport, poor facilities, abandoned villages…), etc.
Young people with fewer opportunities are young/adults people who, largely due to their personal situation and sometimes also due to the choices they make, face different and/or more difficult obstacles in their lives than other young people.
In many cases, individuals may fit into several of the categories described above at the same time (e.g. a teenage mother who lives in a remote village and who suffers from alcoholism). This compounds their difficulties still further.
Obviously, an individual should not automatically be included in the “fewer-opportunity” group simply on the basis of one or two characteristics. For instance it would be a mistake to include a young people in the fewer-opportunity group just because they come from an immigrant background. Similarly, it is incorrect to presume all single parents or all young people with disabilities automatically have fewer opportunities.