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The OPENS program "Transformation of Youth Policy" focuses on advocacy for the establishment of Youth Spaces in Serbia, based on the fact that investments in spaces and programs for young people are profitable.

This program transforms youth policy at the local level and creates long-term partnerships that allow for a synergistic approach to working with young people. As a result, communities establish all of the necessary mechanisms for youth policy and have the opportunity to expand their capacities and services, provide sustainable funds for their programs and activities, and continuously implement all of the actions and activities that are important to young people.

The key benefit of this cooperation model is the participatory policy, which puts young people at the center of events. Young people are no longer just passive observers and users of services; instead, they participate in all processes, from planning to execution.

To ensure all of this, the Republic of Serbia's youth policy actors engaged in a broad consultative process, the ultimate goal of which was to define the so-called Standards for Youth Spaces. The goal of these Standards is to define the necessary infrastructure capacities as well as the fundamentals of programming, i.e. service activity for young people, that ensure quality and action in the best interests of young people.

The Working Group, comprised of representatives from the National Youth Council of Serbia, the National Association of Youth Work Practitioners, the National Association of Offices for Youth, OPENS, as well as the Vojvodina Environmental Movement and the former Ministry of Youth and Sports, prepared the first draft of the Standards.

The process of establishing youth spaces in Serbia has begun thanks to the project "Youth Policy in a Low Start" implemented by OPENS and funded by the former Ministry of Youth and Sports of the Republic of Serbia. The following cities will be the first to have youth centers and clubs established:

  • Subotica 
  • Sombor 
  • Mionica
  • Subotica 


We are here to listen to you.

Even though mental health is an important component of overall health, it is still difficult for us to discuss it publicly, seek support and assistance, and understand not only ourselves but also other people who are important to us when we are suffering.

What Exactly is Constellation of Support?

Constellation of Support is here to educate you on mental health issues, provide knowledge for further personal development and crisis support, and advocate for greater emphasis on mental health in the community.

The Constellation of Support is a network of Novi Sad-based organizations that help young people with mental health issues. 

We are here for you: 

  • If you require emotional, psychological, or psychotherapeutic support;
  • If you require emotional, psychological, or psychotherapeutic support;
  • If you want to volunteer in the mental health field.

Let’s Get in Touch

The support constellation includes 12 organizations dedicated to assisting members of various social groups. More information about their work and contact information can be found at the following link:

OPENS in partnership with the City of Novi Sad, the City Administration for Sports and Youth, the Government of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, the Provincial Secretariat for Sports and Youth, the Provincial Secretariat for Culture, Public Information and Relations with Religious Communities, the Provincial Secretariat for Education, Regulations, and National Minorities-National Unions and with the Matica Srpska announced in 2022 the fourth contest in writing short stories on the topic of the (given) Serbian folk proverbs for students attending the secondary schools in the territory of Autonomous Province of Vojvodina.

Due to its continuity, the number of young people it includes every year, as well as the effects it achieves, the program "Proverbs - Timeless Wisdom" has earned the privilege of being in the group of programs that proudly represent the values that OPENS stands for.

The "Proverbs - Timeless Wisdom" project continuously affects the preservation of national and cultural identity and the development of pro-European values through increasing motivation and improving the capacity of young people, students and their teachers to upgrade and modernize the teaching process, as well as through improving the capacity of teachers to respond to the needs of students of the new generations.

In addition to the above mentioned, the project provides its contribution to the promotion of gender equality through building positive attitudes and values of young people in relation to this topic, given that one of the proverbs that young people are invited to think about was directed towards the topic of gender equality.

Every year in September, OPENS announces a contest for high school students in the territory of Vojvodina, whose task is to write short stories on the topic of some of the folk proverbs chosen by the representatives of the Matica Srpska involved in the implementation of the project. The winning works are used as scripts for short animated films and are rewarded with money. For each work, a special musical theme and production is created, as well as a scenario and a storyboard, according to which the animated film is made. Besides the students, the professors - mentors who supervised the most successful works, as well as the schools from which the winning works come, but also the school that sends the most works within the contest, are awarded every year.

The project encourages young people to get actively involved, to express personal ways of thinking and seeing the world around them within the context of the traditional values of our society. During the four-year period of the implementation of the project, we received over 3,000 student works from over 50 schools from all over Vojvodina, which serves as a clear indicator that young people, as well as their teachers, recognize "Proverbs - timeless wisdom" as an opportunity to express themselves creatively and to think about the contemporary values of the time we live in, but also of some past times, as well as to become active members of their community.

The young people of Novi Sad now have the opportunity to decide what a certain part of the public funds will be spent on. When they were first given that opportunity, it was shown that they know exactly what their community needs in order to progress, that they have concrete ideas about what could be improved in their communities and that they are ready to work on those ideas to be translated into actions.

All of these are the reasons why OPENS, for the fifth year in a row, with the support of the City Administration for Sports and Youth of the City of Novi Sad, is implementing the Participatory Budgeting Project - “Get Involved, Find a Solution!” in in Novi Sad high schools.

This is a project that gives high school students the opportunity to directly influence changes in their school - the environment in which they spend a large part of their day. The project is open to all public high schools in the territory of Novi Sad, and all students and schools have the right to participate.

What does participatory

budgeting look like?

At the very beginning of the program, students form teams. Each team proposes one idea related to the improvement of their community (in this case, the school). In previous years, ideas were focused on different segments of improving the ambiance in schools: forming a mental health club, arranging school yards, setting up benches in school corridors, starting reading and science clubs, purchasing materials (3D printers, internet routers), and so on.

Student teams are required to create an idea that will be feasible within certain budget frameworks, that amounts to 100,000 RSD. Students go through the process of writing and budgeting ideas with the help of professors and facilitators. 

Facilitators are people who are recognized by OPENS as the experts since they have been working on this project for five years and are usually professors of the schools where the students come from, but also other collaborators from the civil sector with experience in working directly with young people.

The students' best idea is then chosen at the school level. All students can participate in the voting process, regardless of whether they are part of the project or not. The student team whose idea was recognized as the best one receives a sum of 100,000 RSD from the City Administration for Sports and Youth and finally starts implementing their idea.

How do the students come up

with their ideas?

In the actual work on the students' idea, Design Thinking is applied as a problem-solving methodology. One of the key elements of the Design Thinking process is increased experimentation – it encourages people to create as many options as possible, including those that have not been considered or have not existed before.

The main focus is thereby on the values and the needs of people - through empathy and the will to incorporate the findings into future solutions. The methodological approach also contributes to this - working with people from different professions and with different experiences. Design Thinking strives for us to approach the finding of solutions actively, optimistically, and curiously, having the wider context always in mind.

The main steps in Design thinking are: Ideate (Imagine) – Prototype (Make a sample) – Test (Test it).

Why participatory budgeting?

Projects such as Participatory Budgeting, in addition to having a direct impact on the disbursement of budget funds, also have a direct influence on high school students by giving them the opportunity to be part of the decision-making processes in their schools. The participation of high school students in the daily processes carried out in their micro-communities (schools) is increased, they are actively directed to think about the needs of all students in their schools and about the well-being of the whole community rather than exclusively of their personal gain. This kind of mechanism enables the realization of projects that directly respond to the real needs of young people. 

The main aim of the project “Watch the Tone. Watch the Click. ” is to enable adequate, ethical media reporting on mental health, both in traditional media space and in modern channels of digital communication (social media). 

The top priorities of the project "Watch your tone. Watch your click." are:

  • The promotion of ethical media reporting on the mental health of young people and on young people with mental health problems through educational and informative activities aimed at media workers, through networking of civil society organizations and the media, as well as the informative campaign aimed at young people in Novi Sad;
  • Raising awareness and improving the professional attitudes of media representatives, as well as of the general public, on the importance of ethical reporting and the impact reporting has on young people and the mental health of young people;
  • Recognition of the topic of mental health of young people in the community.

The aim of the project is being achieved through the following activities: 

  • Establishing and bestowing an award for ethical reporting on the mental health of young people;
  • Implementation of a campaign aimed at promoting ethical reporting on the mental health of young people.

In cooperation with interested members of the Mental Health Club Constellation of Support and institutions in Novi Sad (Institute of Public Health of Vojvodina), an award for ethical reporting in the field of mental health of young people in the media was created as a part of the project.

The award was bestowed as part of the Mental Health Festival (mid-October), and the jury for bestowing the award was comprised of 5 young people active in the promotion of mental health.

The campaign "Watch your tone. Watch your click." was realized as a side-activity of the Contest for Ethical Reporting on Mental Health due to the need of informing and educating the public and media representatives on the topic and field of mental health. 

Through this campaign, the main issues in reporting on mental health in the media are mapped, as well as the message within the campaign - Watch the Tone. Watch the Click. The campaign is present in the online space - social media, and it is the crux for all additional activities encompassed by this project.

The idea of collaboration between OPENS and the Serbian National Theatre was initiated with the plan of empowering young people, both young artists and young people who consume the cultural content.

The theatre is the stage for raising important questions and topics, however, we are aware that those very theatres are often far from new audiences and that the halls are often empty. From the desire to support and motivate young artists to create and launch the Youth Fund, to advocating for building a new, young audience in the theatre, we came to the co-production of two plays that, in addition to the mentioned goals, had the great task of drawing the public's attention to important issues, such as gender equality and the rights of intersex people. 

Who Killed Janis Joplin?

"Who Killed Janis Joplin?" is an intriguing play with an abundance of musical repertoire that takes us to the year 1970, to room 105 of the Hollywood Landmark Hotel, where Janis Joplin died at the age of 27.

This play raises the question - WHO KILLED JANIS JOPLIN? Was it her family, friends, failed loves, alcohol, drugs, or the society she lived in? And is that same society killing women today? Through the biographical story of the rock star of the 60s, we learn how the generations of beatniks of that time lived and why it was hard to be a woman who did not fit into the standards of the conservative environment that were persistently imposed on her.

The play introduces us to Janis Joplin, a pioneer among women in music, a feminist who was unaware that she was a feminist and a woman who left behind a kind of rule book for "wild women".

The play was directed by Sonja Petrović and based on the original text by Tijana Grumić.

The play features: Bojana Milanović, Sonja Isailović, Vukašin Ranđelović, Dimitrije Aranđelović, Stefan Vukić, Petar Banjac, Filip Grubač and Igor Sakač.

The scenographer is Željko Piškorić, the costumes are by Senka Ranisavljević, the lighting design is by Marko Radanović, and the UV band is in charge of the live performance of the musical repertoire.

The play "Who Killed Janis Joplin?" and the young team that created it managed to extract a special emotion from the audience and win over 23 awards, of which we single out the awards won at the "Days of Zoran Radmilović", the Festival "Theatre at the Crossroads", Niš, the International Festival Viminacium Fest - "Myths Old and New", the "Petar Kočić" International Theater Festival 2021, Banjaluka, the "Predrag Peđa Tomanović" Award, Joakimfest 2020, Kragujevac and awards won at the 65th Sterijino Pozorje Festival.


Social circumstances together with political, ethnic, and cultural patterns that are given or imposed upon us at the birth influence the formation of our personality, and sometimes also affect our physical bodies, which someone once determined should be either male or female.

At a time of small victories in terms of giving a voice to the "different" ones and narrowing the field for a greater fight for individuality and free will, when battles, attitudes, wars, and revolutions are waged on the treatment of body and gender, the topic of identity is extremely current and essentially important in the political and social domain.

The play "Middlesex", based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, was directed by Jovana Tomić, and the dramatization and adaptation were done by Dimitrije Kokanov.

The main roles are played by Bojana Milanović and Branislav Jerković, and the play also features Zoltan Molnar, Draginja Voganjac, Sonja Isailović, Aleksandar Sarapa, Tijana Marković, Aljoša Đidić, Dimitrije Aranđelović, Vukašin Ranđelović, and Mia Simonović.

The scenography of the play was done by Jasmina Holbus, while Maja Mirković was in charge of the costumes. Luka Major is composing the music for the play "Middlesex", while Igor Koruga will be in charge of the stage movement.

Through this play, we are raising the question of what "normality" is today, and why people have the need to classify things according to certain norms and unwritten rules.

The play "Middlesex" is the story of an intersex person, who was raised as a girl, only to notice in her teenage years that her body is different from her peers and to continue to live as a man.

According to UN data, at least 1.7% of the population is intersex, and only 0.5% of children are recognized by doctors as intersex persons. If this was some other characteristic we were born with, like eye color, it wouldn't matter so much. However, the boundaries of intersexuality are not decided by nature, but by people. In a large number of such cases, the gender of the child is decided by parents and doctors, who are used to thinking in terms of opposites - male/female, plus/minus, and actions are taken to "repair" the body. However, the fact is that a certain number of intersex children reject the gender assigned to them at birth. Deciding on the gender of a child on their behalf violates their basic human right to bodily integrity and can often lead to serious psychological consequences, even the most fatal ones, like suicide.

With responsible, engaged art and the capacities of civil society organizations, we are creating an innovative ground for shining a spotlight on some possibly controversial but important social issues, filling halls with new audiences, and contributing to the fight for human rights, personal choice, and freedom.


Due to our wish to reach as many different young people as possible with quality programs, OPENS entrusted partner associations in Novi Sad with the execution of certain activities. This particular program aims to strengthen 21 youth organizations and organizations for young people through mentorship and technical and financial support. 

We have enabled continuous financing of programs of associations that carry out youth activities that contribute to the development of society and actualize the active participation of young people. 

The idea of this program is the continuous work with associate organizations and work on permanent mechanisms of youth policy, which as a result lead to empowered youth organizations and organizations for young people. Additionally, it is of high importance that the significance of youth work is recognized in this process. That is why this program is designed to be inclusive, aimed towards strengthening the capacity of organizations and towards continuous work with youth organizations, achieved by introducing new work standards and increasing the efficiency of existing systems according to which projects are implemented.

This year's program pays special attention to the target group of college students and high school students, making the development of continuous support for students and student organizations one of the goals. 

The 21 associations cooperating on the realization of this program with us are divided into three categories: 

Founders of the OPENS:


Associates from the youth category


Student organizations

The capacity building program comes into being as the result of years of work aimed at strengthening the capacity of civil society organizations, primarily in the area of fundraising, but also in the area of organizational management (human resources, volunteer management, digital tools, work innovation, etc.) and marketing. Since 2022, this program is going through a transformation due to the merging of two separate projects that, through different forms, pursued the same goal - the sustainability of civil society organizations.

Through 5 different formats - Resource Cafés, mentorship program, closed meetings ("Meetups"), national congress "OPENS FundCon", and knowledge base - the program in 2022 touched upon several specific topics within three main segments:

  • Change management/risk assessment
  • Leadership
  • Fundraising techniques
  • Activism/citizens' initiatives
  • Human resources in non-profit/volunteer organizations
  • Project management/management techniques
  • Work organization/organizational management
  • Tailored marketing/social networks and their benefits
  • Innovations/digital transformation/online work/tools and software for non-profit organizations

Civil society organizations are singled out as the primary target group of the program, that is, their representatives (employees/engaged) whose responsibility is the management of the organization and personnel and leadership of marketing activities. Certain parts/formats of the program are open to youth workers, young professionals, representatives of institutions that work with young people, and interested young people as well.

Novi Sad Voluntary Service

Novi Sad Voluntary Service is a service support program for volunteer activities in Novi Sad that was created on the initiative of the European Youth Capital and the European Capital of Culture. The program provided important volunteer support during the implementation of activities in both capitals, but it is primarily aimed at the local community, organizations, institutions and informal groups and at volunteer support in the sports, health, ecology, youth, culture and emergency sectors.

The program works equally to empower the organizers of volunteer activities and to empower volunteers through educational activities for better quality and easier work in volunteer management.
NVS works in the field of international cooperation, thus expanding the experience gained in intensive work in Novi Sad outside the borders of the country.

By empowering individuals through volunteering, NVS indirectly empowers the local community and thus the entire society. This is not possible without good cooperation with partners and good promotion through different communication channels.
The year 2023 is the year of a new beginning without titles, COVID and emergency situations in which we can calmly measure the effects of volunteering and the development of the volunteer community in Novi Sad.

The general goal of the project is to work on the systematic recognition of volunteering, the promotion of volunteering and the creation of conditions for quality and safe volunteering in Novi Sad.