Bored youths in Stockholm's archipelago
Isolation, boredom and a lack of schools and job opportunities is making the young population of Stockholm's archipelago leave for the mainland. A new project aims to make island life more attractive for them.
Stockholm's archipelago is a natural treasure that exists a mere hour and a half outside of the Swedish capital. Many Swedes journey to islands in the archipelago for their summer holidays. For them it's one of the most unforgettable experiences the country has to offer.
But what about the Swedes who live there all year round? Living on an island with just two other houses may sound like heaven for stressed out city dwellers, but do the locals feel the same way? Radio Sweden spoke to those particularly socally active groups of the local population, those under the age of 18, to find out.
Twelve year-old Jesper Hässelgren is a student at Ljusterö school, on the island of Ljusterö in the northern archipelago. He's lucky to live on one of the more populated islands in the area. Still, there are only four other children in his class, and he is one of the two children who play on the school's football team.
The small percentage of children living in the archipelago means that there are not many activities around to cater to their needs and interests. That's why Jesper and several of his fellow students are getting involved in the Archipelago Foundation's new project, Young People's Voices of the Archipelago.
The project, which has received EU funding, will aim to find out what life is like for young people aged 12 to 18 on the archipelago, and how to make living there more appealing to them.
"There's nothing to here at night", says Hässelgren. "I want to create things for the guys and girls here to do. Maybe a go-kart track or a game hall. A place where you can hang out with your friends."
Sandra Löfgren, the project's co-ordinator, says some of the big issues are boredom and isolation.
"Many of the children leave when they start high school", she says. "And it's not fun to live here if there are only one or two other children around. It can be very lonely being a child here."
As well as getting local children to stay in the archipelago, Sandra hopes the project will attract young people from other parts of the country to the islands, and that they will stay for longer than the summer.
Fifteen year-old Alicia Karlstedt, another student working on the project, says that there is a big contrast between the summers and winters on the island.
"In the summer it's fun, you can come up with things to do", she says. "We make new friends over the summer. Then it's sad when they leave."
Most young people leave the islands to go to high school. After high school, life in the archipelago does not offer young people the same job opportunities as the mainland. Sandra Löfgren tells Radio Sweden that problems with transport make life difficult for those who want to commute to the mainland for work.
These are problems that remain to be solved in the future. The Archipelago Foundation's focus is on listening to what the young people have to say now.