Youth Group at the #EPFCongress2021

EPF Congress 2021 by Ivett Jakab, Youth Group President

It happened in November 2019, in an old but classy hotel building in the center of Brussels, the Youth Group was in the spotlight. We engaged in three role-plays demonstrating how society often treats young patients, and then right after we acted out how the same situations could look like in an ideal world. The whole audience was cheering, as seven young people were holding hands on the stage. We felt like superstars, but even more so we felt the togetherness of a cool, fun, and loving community.

This was the image that popped into my head about the first EPF Congress when I was asked to co-host the second one. I knew that it would not be *THAT* special, as it was all happening online, but I also knew that I wanted to give a similar experience to the people attending: “the Youth Group experience”. I had the absolute pleasure to work together almost day and night with Tjasa Zajc, the other co-host of the event, amazing EPF colleagues - big shoutout to Michele and Dante! - and jaw-droppingly professional tech support people. We talked about data, digital literacy, co-design, access, safety and so much more over the four days. We also danced, improvised, laughed, relaxed together hopefully proving to participants – and to ourselves – that an online conference can be cool, fun and loving too.

I was more than proud attending the Youth Group Networking session organized by our Youth Group members, Marleen, Bianka and Anastasia, with the help of our falling-ill-on-the-week-of-congress coordinator, Borislava. I have learned the check-in game of “which food are you feeling today?” during the session and used it good number of times already – my all-time favorite answers being mashed potatoes and leftover pizza.

I was again amazed by more of our Youth Group members – this time Cornelia and Anastasia – at the session organized together with the STYPA 2021 (Summer Training of Young Patient Advocates) team leaders on Young Patient Engagement. We had Nathalie Bere from the European Medicines Agency joining for the full night after giving us a presentation on how EMA is engaging (young) patients. We brainstormed together on how to involve young patients into the work of organizations more deeply and successfully.