Community development, Youth participation and empowerment

Democratic Tiny town (run by kids)

Helping kids build their own Tiny town with their hands and through democratic processes. Following the learning process, they will engage in co-creating public spaces on a municipality level.


Who is behind this?

Daša Radovan



Who is joining forces?

The Municipality of Novo mesto


DRPD (Društvo za razvijanje prostovoljnega dela)


Mavrični bojevniki



Idea pitch

Kids are never asked for advice. We will change that by helping them build Tiny town. They are offered tools, materials and public land to create their own small wooden houses and other facilities. There are not enough tools, so kids have to agree on “fair play”. How will town’s “roles” be distributed? Who will decide this? Kids! After learning about the democratic processes, they will be included in the process of shaping their hometown with real municipal government and become active citizens.

Where will your project idea take place?

Novo mesto, SLovenia

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

In Novo mesto, children grow into passive citizens or move to Ljubljana, the capital. We observe a large lack of youth participating in local-political events and organizations; they do not vote etc. Our region is losing active youth. By rewarding individualism, we are losing the sense of community, social responsibility and town “ownership”. We face a challenge of including children in the process of shaping the town. Tiny town’s goal is to motivate and encourage children to want to cooperate in the process of designing the city appearance. Currently, children are not locally politically active, as they do not even get the opportunity to do so, nor do they have the adequate knowledge. They have ideas, but no skills to forward them to the external actors and lack political vocabulary.

Who are you doing it for?

Our primary target group is children aged between 5 and 15. They spent most of their free time in a virtual world and know little about their physical environment. As a result, they are losing the need to influence changes in the local environment. In the formal environment, they are constantly being observed, led and put under pressure of expectations. At Tiny town, they can be themselves, form their own rules and manage themselves. In this new social environment, they develop a healthy relationship towards the environment and themselves, get to know their strong points and potentials, develop self-esteem, obtain a sense of self-worth and gain competences of active citizens, develop creativity, become socially critical and learn about situation valuation and community cooperation.

How do you plan to get there?

The project design is to make Tiny town actively operating three times a week under the direction of qualified workers. One day of the week will be intended for Tiny town community meetings where plans will be made for the visualisation of ideas and children’s needs. The other two days of the week will be dedicated to the realisation of these needs.
Working method: playwork, a systematic approach to the phases:
Phase1-goal: Children develop motor skills and collaborative skills.
They learn how to handle a tool and build physical objects. In parallel, they learn how to cooperate, solve problems and make decisions. In this phase, street workers are still strongly managing the processes at Tiny town (2 months).
Phase2-goal: Children are in the process of internalizing knowledge and skills from phase 1 and taking over the role of co-designers of the community.
In this phase, street workers and children are equal members of the Tiny town community (2 months).
Phase3-goal: Children manage Tiny town on their own.
With their independence, children establish a form of self-governance. Adults become observers (2 mont).
Phase4-goal: Children actively participate in the process of shaping the real town and collaborate with the local authority to solve specific urban challenges of the municipality.
They have meetings with the local community and municipality to share their idea (2m

What are the expected results?

In one year, children will significantly increase their level of autonomy, cooperation, participation and co-decision. After the project - tender, major changes will be visible with children. They will acquire civic skills and their understanding of the processes in the society and politics will improve significantly. They will become the children, the citizens who collaborate and contribute to the changes in the country and abroad. They will be the citizens who vote and fight for human rights and become politically active. At the same time, they will develop a positive attitude towards themselves and consequently achieve a higher quality of life. When resolving conflicts, they will be more successful and more confident about their work.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

Our project adopts two views:
During the process, individuals will develop critical thinking, which does not originate in itself, but represents a process that first requires a safe environment. Our stimulative environment will make an individual stand up for specific (political) goals and collectively approach a problem.
An informal space will be available for exchange of opinions and practices. Tiny town will be a safe place with no wrong or right answers. The community will develop a perspective that is most suitable for all individuals. By encouraging group dynamics, an open group will be formed where doors will be open to all individuals from the community.

Why is this idea important to you?

We are people who believe in children. We deliver our mission through projects in which we integrate a lot of free play and nature. Our team consists of 8 people. We have a teacher from a residential treatment institution, the headteacher of the Veliki Gaber Primary School, an agronomist and aspiring students of sociology, education and biology. Among those are three parents, who have, in their experience, observed a lack of civic education with their kids. In brief, different types of people with various experiences in working with children. At Tiny town, two expert street workers who already perform such practice will be present. We have the knowledge and skills on how to approach children and empower them. We believe that children deserve the same treatment as the rest of the community.

€ 37400,-

Total budget

€ 35000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

field event management 17280
volunteer award 1500
external contractors 1500
project manager 3600
overheads (administration, accounting, office supplies, insurance ...) 3200
travel expenses 740
marketing: 1500
equipment + materials (saws, hammers, nails, wood, stone, sand, etc., etc.) 8000
liability insurance 80

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would be happy to hear about your good practices of working with children, so please leave us a comment, whether good or bad. We may have left out something important, so do not hesitate to tell us all about it.





Idea created on April 25, 2021
Last edit on April 25, 2021

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