The “Change the Future” youth conference was part of EULAR Young PARE’s objective to establish an active European network of national youth groups representing young people with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs). Thirty-nine individuals from 18 European countries travelled to Retie in Belgium on 21 October 2016 for a weekend of networking and collaborative learning. It was a wonderful experience to bring together such a diverse group of individuals, each with their own experiences of living with, or caring for someone with an RMD. By combining social activities, networking opportunities, and skills-development workshops, this conference was a productive and useful experience for all.
Across the weekend, three skills-based workshops were delivered around pitching ideas, organising and chairing meetings, and working with volunteers, where participants learnt practical skills that will help them to become better leaders, improve their (youth) organisations and start new youth projects to improve the quality of life of young people with RMDs. Six walk-in workshops were also held, enabling individuals to develop skills that would add value to their work. The topics of the walk-in workshops included: ‘Writing abstracts for the EULAR congress’, ‘Taking action with the knowledge transfer programme’, ‘Designing the perfect poster presentation and online graphics’, ‘Using social media to deliver effective and engaging interaction’, ‘Making the most of the virtual knowledge centre’ and ‘Writing effective articles for your website and print media’. We also allocated time for digital poster presentations, where each individual gave a three minute presentation about the work their organisation has been doing in their respective country for young people with RMDs. This gave the EULAR Young PARE working group insights into the existing youth projects in different countries and the needs of these organisations.
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