START THE CHANGE – creating a generation of change makers through intercultural education and volunteering
Building the resilience of young people is the purpose of the START THE CHANGE project. The resilience relates to all those factors that contribute to the development of a young person, regardless of their starting position and possible problems, into a healthy, self-confident, satisfied and tolerant person who builds quality relationships, develops their abilities and is actively and positively engaged in their community. Building resilience toward risks, bad influences, manipulation, extreme attitudes, relationships and attitudes that are harmful in the long-term negative decisions and their consequences, is achieved through the invitation to young people to express their own world perspective, experience being heard and seen by their teachers and supported to initiate creative and innovative projects through which they can express their own talents, values and potential for growth.
Therefore, the first cluster of the START THE CHANGE project investigates perspectives of young people themselves on their views on how they perceive their school community, their position in it and in what ways they are being heard and seen and in what ways they do not. The findings of their voice is the starting point for developing the second cluster of START THE CHANGE materials and training curriculums for teachers and parents as to empower them to together with young people create positive changes in their schools and learning spaces. In the third cluster, the START THE CHANGE project seeks to motivate young people to create and lead with the support of their teachers volunteering initiatives that will contribute to the solving the problems that were previously identified by young people.
The key focus of all clusters of the START THE CHANGE project is the promotion of the student voice and participation as a growing number of researchers claim that it supports opening up spaces and capacities for marginalized youth to play key roles in positive changes in school and learning spaces, support more socially just school environments and ensure that disenfranchised youth are included in decision-making processes and foster positive youth development around agency and civic engagement.
In order to maximize addressing the above identified objectives, the project is focused on:
- Developing good practice by implementing the whole-school approach having in mind that it is equally important to work with students, parents and teachers but also to put project in the context of the wider local community with the special focus on developing civic competences which enables a person to take part in civic life, based on knowledge of social and political concepts.
- Developing inclusive social educational policies by promoting participative decision making process and collaboration between grass root level, schools, local and national organisations, local national and EU policy makers and international stakeholders. This approach is based on the collaborative process where practice is informing policies in order to develop sustainable solutions for standardizing the value of student voice and participation in the policy and school level.
Collaboration among partners from Croatia, North Macedonia, Portugal and Belgium will lead to project results such as established cooperation between 15 schools and local CSOs in implementing the intercultural and peacebuilding projects reaching out to over 1000 young people. It is a large scale coordinated action that motivates children and young people to be active, critical and brave in stating their opinion and fighting for what they believe in. It motivates their teachers and mentors to help them start up projects aimed at developing mutual appreciation and engaging young people in socially aware and peace-building projects.