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The Youth and Internet Café in Velký Meder

The town of Velký Meder has relatively few leisure time activities to offer the youth at present. Opportunities for young people to take part in social activities and meet other youngsters within a safe and supervised environment are therefore rather limited on the public level. Furthermore the ability to access the Internet and gaining computer skills at the same is purely a private option. The Internet and computers has many advantages to offer young people – global information access, ability to improve language skills as well as acquiring computer skills necessary for future job and educational situations.

1.0 Concept
Opening up a youth and Internet café in the town centre of Velký Meder.

1.1 Objectives
Opening up a youth and Internet café should give the local youth to meet within a nice and cosy environment with excellent settings both socially and physically.

Getting access to the Internet and learning youth how to use computers has many benefits. As global influence on their own lives will be increasing rapidly in the future, being confident and able to access information and communicate internationally via the Internet will be increasingly important. Secondly an increasingly amount of jobs in the future will require computer skills as a basic demand. Thirdly, access to the Internet will be likely to strengthen important English skills at an early age as well.

As to the social settings of the café it is important that the staff and volunteers takes an active role in creating a warm and welcoming environment for youth of all the different age groups and makes it a safe place to come.

The youth and Internet café will be run with a symbolic entrance fee for using the computers. This should purely be symbolic, but is important for the young people to respect and appreciate the opportunity. Furthermore it would prevent overcrowding and give access to as many young people as possible.

1.2 Target group
The primary target group of the café will be young people in the age of 10 to 25 years old. The early age of 10 is set to give young people a chance to learn, as it is they that will have the most benefit of these skills in their future life. In Velky Meder there are 12.000 inhabitants in addition to a large population in the nearby country side. Approximately 2.000+ young people are within the target group.

1.3 Physical settings
The physical settings of the café should live up to the highest standards of Internet cafés in Europe. Warm colours and youth minded furniture will be the main theme of the facilities creating a cosy and relaxed atmosphere.

20 computers will be available to access the Internet as well as standard office programmes. They will be connected to the Internet by a mobile solution. The computers will be set up as individual workstations. The bar will have multimedia functions such as printing and scanning facilities for a small fee.

A “chilling zone” will be created, where you can relax and have a good time in sofas, big pillows, while listening to music, talking and playing games with your friends etc.

Some security measures will be taken with an obligatory membership with picture ID, which must be shown at request. New members can sign up on the spot by providing identification and 2 pictures. A membership database will be set up on the main computer to keep track of information of the members.

Other initiatives such as video surveillance, various software installations and facade protection will be installed to the degree it’s found necessary.

The café will be open from the afternoon, when youth will finish school and continue till 10 or 12 o’clock at night. In planning the hours it is a priority to keep the café open at the time, where young people are going out, and thereby provide a healthy alternative to discotheques and alcohol.

A small website for the café should be created to as the starting page on the Internet. It should be possible to find different kind of links here as well as a basic description and pictures from the café. Furthermore flyers and posters should be made to advertise the existence of the place (especially in the start up face) and distributed at places, where youth are coming.


2.0 Activities

The youth cafe should have a wide social profile going beyond the aim of making computers available to young people. The attitude of the staff and volunteers approaching the youth using the café will be of great importance. Not only is it important to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere, the staff and volunteers will also have the task of helping out beginners with computers. Playing an active and self-aware role, as members of an association, will be an important way of creating a trust base relationship and signalling to the young people what kind of behaviour is tolerated in this environment. By doing so, the café will distinct itself from being merely a profit based Internet café with passive involvement from the staff, and furthermore this should hopefully work towards keeping the control and security aspect to a necessary minimum.

An area of the youth cafe will be available for young people to socialize next to the computer area. Furthermore several activities will support the aim of making the cafe and active place.

2.1 Educational activities
• Facilities for doing home work / help from older students
• Evenings with access for adults Parent and children evening (for parents and children between 10-14)

In corporation with the local authorities:

• School education on computers during day time

The website will include different information and links on various youth issues both locally and internationally to encourage the users of the cafe to look for different kind of civil society activities. Furthermore a stand with leaflets and information from the public authorities and youth organisations should be created. Offers on voluntary work, different problems addressing youth, youth counselling etc. could be possible ideas.
Once the café is running, other ideas can be developed together with local youth and organizations. For example:

• Computer job skill training for young unemployed people with a diploma
• 1-year youth projects within the European Union’s Youth Programme

2.2 Other events and activities
Once the café is up and running, certain theme concepts could be worked out to make the place a dynamic and non-routine like place to come. This could be a small thing such as monthly competitions, Halloween or Christmas decorations of the room etc. etc.

2.3 Regular tasks for staff and volunteers
• Approaching youth to take an active role in creating an attentive and friendship-based relationship between the place and the users
• Giving introductions to using computers in general as well and surfing the Internet and using office tools
• Monitoring the usage of the computers to assure a fair division of time for everyone as well as preventing abuse of the computers such as adult pages, illegal downloading etc.
• Managing the sale of sodas and sweets in the bar
• Handing out board games, cards etc.
• Checking membership cards, when visitors arrives
• Keeping track of the equipment to prevent theft


3.0 Working structure

3.1 Decision making
The café will be established as a non-profit association affiliated with a group of local companies including Dan-Slovakia, Nevitel and others. Local youth organisations as well as the local public authorities are also invited to take part in the shaping, running and decision making process of the café. Additional applications for funds will be made with Microsoft, the European Union’s YOUTH programme and other institutions.

A steering group will be established with the purpose of taking care of the overall framework of the youth cafe. This includes having the responsibility for the general structure as well as the main budget and fund raising. The steering group will meet on a monthly basis to start off with and members from the following bodies will be represented: Dan Slovakia, Nevitel, the town hall office and the local schools. Furthermore the coordinator of the cafe will take part along with one of the volunteers from the cafe.

Secondly an action group will be established including the coordinator as well as volunteers and users interested in being involved in the decision making. This way young people are encouraged to take responsibility and take part in decisions affecting themselves as users of the café. While the steering group is having the responsibility for the overall framework, the action group will be responsible for fulfilling these frames in terms of concrete ideas and initiatives and how to implement these. Also the daily running, atmosphere and volunteer involvement in the cafe will be discussed here. The coordinator will function as the link between the steering group and the action group. The action group will meet every second week.

The legal construction will imply that Dan Slovakia will be the formal and economically responsible body of the cafe and employer responsible for the coordinator of the youth cafe. The other members of the steering group will contribute and take responsibility according to a special contract for the corporation.

3.2 Staff
Coordinator – a full time coordinator will be employed to take care of the overall responsibility of the café. This includes the daily running of the place as well as supervision of volunteers.

Civil servant – a young person during his military service will be part of the café on a full time basis. Someone with expert technical computer skills would be a preference.

EVS volunteer – there is an opportunity of getting a foreign full time volunteers to take part in the running of the placement. Having a foreign volunteer ads an international dimension to the place, encouraging local youth to challenge cultural differences and improve foreign language skills.

Volunteers – a group of part-time volunteers from the local area will be included to take part in the running of the café. This gives the local youth a chance to gain experience with taking on a responsibility and self-development being active within an organisational environment.

A working schedule will be made out to cover all times of the opening hours. One full time staff member should be present at all times with 2-3 other volunteers. The staff and volunteers will share the tasks of café listed below on an equal basis.