Since the spring Agora it is possible to create Interest Groups in AEGEE. These new informal bodies can organise projects and events or just debate about different topics – it all depends on what the members want. The Health4Youth project just became the first Interest Group. Joanna Pankowska, coordinator of the group, explained the Golden Times, what that means for Health4Youth and all members.

Joanna Pankowska
Joanna Pankowska

Golden Times: Can you briefly explain Health4Youth? What is it about?
Joanna Pankowska: Health4Youth is all about the health – surprise! The first cycle of the project lasted until last year and was run by Mayri Tiido. We had the kick off of the second cycle in January, but three months later we decided to change the format from project to Interest Group. During the planning phase as a project we decided to concentrate on three main pillars: nutrition, relaxation and sex education. But now as an Interest Group we do not have to limit ourself to those three.

H4YIGGolden Times: Why did you decide to change Health4Youth from project to Interest Group?
Joanna: From the very beginning our target group were AEGEE members. We believe there is a lot of NGOs out there which do cover the topic. But when we look on the AEGEEans’ level of awareness on health issues it is not too impressive. Many of us focus so much on changing the world around us that we forget to take care about ourselves. As an Interest Group we can serve better the purpose of spreading the topic inside the organisation. Also the format of Interest Group is much more inclusive in the matter of people and initiatives. Health is the topics that very often interests new members – and it was inconvenient that as a project we could not involve them that much. An Interest Group has a very open structure and all of the AEGEans can join us any moment.

Golden Times: H4Y is the first Interest Group. How does it make you feel?
Joanna: Awesome.

Health4Youth was present during the “Healthy Spring” Conference by AEGEE-Białystok this spring.

Golden Times: What are the pros and cons of the change?
Joanna: Pros: a more inclusive format, which means more members get involved, which means also more spreading of the health topic within AEGEE. Cons: as an Interest Group we will probably achieve a lot of small successes, but the “dream big” attitude is probably not going to happen, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but might be a minus for some.

Golden Times: How did the transformation work in practice? what did you have to do for changing H4Y into an IG?
Joanna: We did not become an official project of AEGEE-Europe yet so the only thing we had to do is submit the application to start an IG and ta-dah!

Golden Times: Was the change controversially discussed in the project team? How was it decided?
Joanna: We took a long time debating it both by writing and during a skype meeting. in the end we were almost unanimous.

The World Water Day by AEGEE-Ljubljana and AEGEE-Udine was another inititiave of by Health4Youth this year.

Golden Times: A project defines itself by having activities. An Interest Group is more flexible, can also be a debate club. Will you keep on organising international activities in H4Y? If yes, what is planned for 2015 and 2016?
Joanna: It all depends on the members, but for sure we want to keep organizing stuff. For now we have a survey that checks the Summer University Experience in terms of health. The results of the survey will be promoted among the SUs organizers and other members in order to improve the experience for all of us. You can find the survey here:

Golden Times: How can interested members join the H4Y Interest group? And how can they participate in the activities?
Joanna: All of this information you can find on the Members Portal: Do not hesitate to join!