Romania suffers from a chronic disconnection of its formal educational system from real life skills that youngsters need to solve the current challenges we face, especially on environment. "Eco-challenge", has been investing in the past 10 years in developing these skills and values, but with the Corona-virus crisis, our offline extra-curricular work in schools has stopped. Now we try to reload: find new solutions of blended learning to continue and even increase our impact further
The project takes place at national level, but most of our participants are from small towns
We are trying to address the lack of environmental education in pupils (primary to high-school) all over Romania through blended learning and volunteering activities in their local communities. According to the latest Euro-barometer “Special Attitudes of European Citizens towards the Environment”, Romanians are on the last positions with only 47% of the people believing they are well informed on environmental issues, lagging behind countries like UK or Denmark with 75-80%. The adults working now in companies or public administrations, responsible for the lack of consistent action for environmental protection, are the former kids who didn’t receive proper education about the services nature provides, who were not encouraged to volunteer or to speak up to protect it
Eco-challenge is especially about active citizenship, because it starts with educating young participants about the environmental challenges we face both globally and locally and then it gives them the tools and motivation to became part of the solution through the volunteering activities that are transforming their local communities: nature is cleaned of littering, waste is sent to recycling, trees are planted, unused land is transformed in gardens, used objects are donated not trashed, local authorities are noticing a new generation rising with a new set of values and demands, giving them food for thought on their policies
The main beneficiaries of our project are the young people taking the role of "eco-ambassador": registering in the competition, participating at workshops, making a lot of volunteer work and motivating other people around to participate, from parents, to friends, other colleagues, official representatives at local level. They develop an amazing set of skills and values important for the communities. The practical, extra-curricular activities provides an opportunity especially to excluded kids without extraordinary academic results (highly valuated by the formal system) to prove they can achieve important things, raising their self esteem and appreciation in the community and level-playing field with "the elite" (who also have good results in our project but they are not the only ones)
First, we promote the project at national level trying to get as many participants as possible. Teams from different schools register in a competition we designed, which involves both participating in workshops (curriculum prepared by us) and running volunteering activities on different environmental topics, at local level. They get points according to how big their impact is. They get coaching from us to be able to improve all the time. They send reports which we evaluate and score. We measure at the beginning and at the end their competencies we follow. We reward the best with a life changing experience - a summer leadership camp. We acknowledge both pupils and teachers work with valuable diplomas
Ecochallenge project has happened for the past 10 years already with amazing results in terms of competencies developed in young people and environmental improvements at local level. Over 55.000 direct beneficiaries achieved so far over 510.000 kg of recycling waste collected, 240.000m2 of cared gardens, 7000 bags of waste collected from natural areas, 158.000 planted trees, 6 legislative proposals sent to the mayor's office in order to improve the local environmental legislation, 1.012 mass media articles about environmental topics. This year, the project was affected because of Coronavirus and now we are upgrading our tools and methods used in the project to be able to deliver next year our promise to more participants, even if a part of activities need to happen online.
The current state of environment in Romania is getting worse – from biodiversity losses, forest illegal logging, pollution or waste disposal, and this is the result of no environmental education and involvement few decades ago of the nowadays adults with different responsibilities in the society. It is of tremendous importance to educate the young people today for a livable planet tomorrow. All the activities and their results had transmitted a clear, positive and measurable social or ecological impact in the communities and also a personal example message. Everyone could take part in the change and the idea was clear: we can do this if we work together. Participating in making our society a better place is at the core of our democracy in Europe
ViitorPlus is a non-profit, non-governmental, independent organization, established in 2006 with the aim of participating in the implementation of the concept of sustainable development. Sustainable development capitalizes on the interconnections between the environmental, human, economic and social planes that underpin human civilization in such a way that current and future generations can meet their needs and retain their opportunities. In our projects, we run environmental education programs, social entrepreneurship, afforestation, reuse and recycling, environmental volunteering, eco-tourism, construction of solar panels. So Echochallenge is the perfect fit for our mission which we implement for 14 years already
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Revision of educational materials - 15.000 euro
Promotion - 3000 euro
Summer camp (transportation, accomodation, meals) - 20.000 euro
Project management - 25.000 euro
Administrative costs - 7000 euro
What best practices you can share about practical environmental education for youth in other countries, initiatives especially run by NGOs?
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Networking and fundraising opportunities you think fit our project