170 Belgian Scout Leaders convene in Flemish Parliament for Leadership Council

3 minutes
Young people sit at the Flemish Parliament.
Over 170 Scout leaders from FOS Open Scouting gathered at the Flemish Parliament on March 5, 2024, for the annual Leadership Council. In keeping with this year's council theme, "Aan Zet" (Dutch for "your move"), the focus was on engaging young leaders in the decision-making process.
FOS leaders participate in the Leadership Council to express their opinions and shape the direction of the organisation. The proposals are submitted beforehand and discussed, debated, and voted on during the event. FOS’ future actions are shaped by these decisions, which ensure that young leaders' voices are not only heard but also taken into account.
Jan Verbeure, Federal Manager of FOS Open Scouting, highlighted the importance of youth participation: “FOS Open Scouting attaches great importance to the participation of its leadership. Seeing the Flemish Parliament packed with young people eager to make themselves heard is gratifying. A youth movement must be driven by the youth. They should not underestimate the power of their voices. We hope that the Leadership Council has already warmed up our Scout youth for the approaching elections because they also create many opportunities to make themselves heard.”
Scout leaders talk while sitting at the Flemish Parliament.

Preparing Youth for Democracy

The choice of the Flemish Parliament as the venue is symbolic, especially as 2024 is a significant election year in Belgium. For the first time, European, national, regional, and local elections are happening simultaneously, giving over 1 million young people the opportunity to vote for the first time, including nearly 2,200 members of FOS Open Scouting. This event served as a preparatory experience for these young voters, bringing them closer to the democratic process and the setting where critical decisions are made.
Throughout the Flemish Parliament, attendees accessed information about the upcoming elections. They also engaged with Scouts involved in local politics, asked questions, and practised voting in a simulation booth.
To lower the participation barrier, FOS Open Scouting refunded public transport tickets for leaders attending the council, a project made possible with support from Erasmus+.
Young people sit on the floor making a circle.
Lucas Van Loo (22), a leader from the 39th FOS De Menapiërs, shared that "it's important to express my opinion. The Leadership Council is a great initiative that shows young people they have an impact and a voice. Young people are often not listened to enough in daily life, especially by those in power. We must seize every opportunity to have a say and strengthen our opinions. It’s vital that a youth movement makes participation possible for young people.”
The Leadership Council, along with the annual theme "Aan Zet," demonstrated the impact of making voices heard and the importance of voting. This event not only facilitated participation in the Scout Movement but also served as a warm-up for young leaders to exercise their right to vote, highlighting the direct and concrete impact of their involvement in the democratic process.