Only 6% of Karnobat’s population is aged up to 29 years old. Young people migrate to big cities for more opportunities & prestige. The problem is in the perceived lack of perspective, boredom, & limiting mindset. DAS aims to address this by bringing together 12-13 years old, teachers, parents & municipality members. Providing methods & facilitating them to find practical solutions mutually, we will ensure the sense of ownership, strengthen the active citizenships & develop a growth mindset.
The city of Karnobat, Eastern Bulgaria. Current population is about 20,000 people.
Nowadays, small communities in Bulgaria are facing depopulation because there is a tendency for young people to move to big cities or abroad. The majority of people lack initiative and expect the government to create opportunities for them. The trust in democracy is undermined and people don’t see themselves as change-makers. There is a need for a safe platform where citizens can express their views and can be exposed to opposing viewpoints ending in a co-creation process for a better future.
Among the contributing factors for the boredom, perceived lack of perspective and limited mindset is the lack of civic education, social dialogue and initiatives to empower young people. Once they are grown up moving to big cities seems to be the only option for a better life.
One of the methodologies we will use to address the described challenge is Design Thinking. Its participatory approach which makes it possible for all stakeholders to participate in co-creation sessions and to develop solutions together. The approach gives the opportunity to everyone to be heard and all points of view to be discussed. Our main goal is to act as facilitators, who will provide methodologies, tools, and guidelines but allow the participants to come up with their own solutions. We will also focus on altering the current limiting mindset towards a growth mindset by working on specific sets of skills such as emotional intelligence, awareness, proactivity, creativity, and critical thinking. Skills that can positively impact the civic activities and engagement in the region.
The earlier the process of empowering and inclusion in decision making starts, the better the results. We target 100 children aged between 12 & 13 to include them in a sequence of guided co-creation workshops. The workshops aim to stimulate dialogue between all stakeholders and produce inspiring solutions for future scenarios that will be prototyped and exhibited in public places. We will use the “Posoki” career development program existing in primary school “Hristo Smirnenski” and further upgrade it. In addition to the 12-13 years old children, we will be involving and working with 10 teachers, 5 municipality representatives, the Deputy Mayor of Education, and at least 100 parents. Design Thinking is a methodology that easily allows a smooth and healthy dialogue between all participants.
STEP 1: Initial research and development of the program. It will build upon the current school program “Posoki” with innovative methodologies and tools developed by the team.
STEP 2: Four-month acceleration program ran with 50 children. We will facilitate the kids to work with us, with their teachers, municipality representatives, parents, individually and in teams.
STEP 3: Pitches of the final ideas and award ceremony. Open for the large public big event, where ideas and prototypes will be presented.
STEP 4: Exhibitions. Organising 1-month exhibition for the ideas & prototypes.
STEP 5: Developing guides for the teachers.
STEP 6: Repeating STEPS 2,3,4 but involving as facilitators the teachers and transferring them our know-how so they can sustain the initiative after the project.
Our dream is to see a stronger & more confident local community with young people being proud to live there and actively engaged in social and professional activities. We expect immediate results such as the improved dialogue between the municipality, kids, teachers, & parents, and empowered and inspired participants. We will have 100 kids and parents trained, developed guidelines for teachers so that they can act as multipliers, & at least 20 prototyped solutions.
We’d consider our initiative a success if we manage to give voice to the issue of depopulation of small communities, to provide an example for other small communities, to refocus on the positive and the opportunities and to make people believe that their voice is heard and that if they want a change, they need to initiate it.
People often feel powerless & lost in complex social systems. Design Thinking is an approach facilitating democracy as it encourages us to look across the whole system. By seeking a diverse range of perspectives, we begin to see linkages & interconnections, which put new choices in the world. The stakeholders will look at people and their needs, create new ideas & insights. One of the things Design Thinking does well is prototyping alternatives. It brings experiments to life quickly to see what works & what doesn’t. It allows more options on the table. By engaging citizens (school children, teachers, parents, municipal services) in developing common solutions, we ensure buy-in from everyone involved, thus making Karnobat in particular & Europe, in general, a more democratic place to live.
We (F360 + Van Dale Europe) are already involved with the city of Karnobat & Primary School “Hristo Smirnenski”. Our previous work-relation makes this idea of DAS just a natural continuation of our partnership. It will add much greater value when we allow a civic dialogue between the chosen stakeholders. Especially important is the interaction between the young students, whose behavior will determine the future of Karnobat’s community, and the local municipality, who has the capacity to empower the youth and the local environment. In addition, our motto is “Helping others, makes us happy” and we want to see more children in Bulgaria be happy, stay close to their environment, friends, and family and at the same time feel empowered and self-confident to develop and live a fulfilling life.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Personnel costs: 24 000,00 EUR
Travel and accommodation: 2 100,00 EUR
Event organisation: 7 900,00 EUR
Design and printing of materials: 5 100,00 EUR
Dissemination (website, promotion): 6 750,00 EUR
Students awards: 3 800,00 EUR
We would like to know if the idea is dear to the other community members. Is there added value in the idea that we have overseen? Would anybody be interested in using the guidelines we are developing? Are there organisations that have done something similar - we would love to meet or chat.