Supporting children’s sense of agency


Who is behind this?

Jelena Ribic Pavelic

European Imagination Institute



Idea pitch

Children can only learn how to be civically engaged by - being civically engaged. In Croatia, their capacities for participation were always underestimated. We are cutting the tradition by putting the majority of this grant into their's hands. It is an experiential approach that will engage children holistically in impacting their communities. Using the participative budgeting model as a concept, we created an experience-driven learning program that will allow children to reimagine their city.

Where will your project idea take place?

Donja Stubica, Zagorje County, Croatia

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

Healthy democracies depend on citizens believing that they can influence outcomes and make a difference. The reality is, however, that too many people in this area feel mistrustful of powerful political institutions and impotent to influence them. It is the next generation that must be educated on how to build a strong democracy, but the practice of listening to children and taking their views seriously is not part of our traditional culture. So, kids are growing up in homes filled with disappointment, in schools without formal civic education, in communities with some or none civic activities. With no history of children's civic participation, there is no evidence of many benefits their involvement brings and this project aims to demonstrate their power and support their sense of agency.

Who are you doing it for?

We represent all of the children from rural Croatia without opportunities to recognize, cherish, and use their sense of agency.But also, this project represents an effort to promote and support collaboration and coordination between local organizations and local governments. Oftentimes, despite good intentions on both sides, CSO's and local governments are not able to find ways in working together. We are challenging them by offering a demonstrated program, that can unite CSO's and local leaders to stand together and try to allocate and outsource additional funds for project implementation.It is through doing despite the obstacles, they can support the advocacy on the national level, to include the children in public budget spendings.It is what they need, but it is also their human right.

How do you plan to get there?

Taking ''participative budgeting'' as a recommended mechanism for local governments, we created a program that will include up to 200 children aged 9 - 14 who will have budgets in 5 categories (elders, parents, young children, environment, entertainment).Our program is combining many different methods and tools, such as reflective questions,group discussions, cognitive repatterning, NLP for kids, public speaking, debate,guided imagery, affirmations, therapeutic art.We will use them differently through 5 stages of the program, where they will observe and interact with the entire community., while learning new skills. 5 ideas will win (eur 7k each) via primary students voting, and all of the ideas will be presented on a main event to the community and local governments representatives.

What are the expected results?

We are hoping more adults will understand there is a great deal they can get from children. Local leaders will recognise this program's benefits, and support the project either through giving children access to a city budget or through partnering with us.There is an important momentum we are using to implement the project now. With local government elections coming in the summer of 2021.,there is no greater time for local leaders to ask themselves:What else can I do for this community?Including the children should be one of the answers.We will have a demonstrated case for children's power that will get media attention and we hope that the importance of the necessity for investing in this generation's empowerment will become a subject of public discourse.

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

Children will learn it is through experiencing respect for their views and discovering the importance of their respect for the views of others, that they acquire the capacity and willingness to listen to others and so begin to understand the processes and value of democracy. It is through learning to question, to express views and having opinions taken seriously, that children will acquire the skills and competence to develop their thinking and to exercise judgment in the myriad of issues that will confront them as they approach adulthood. We are hoping that this project will be a learning and transformative experience for the entire community, and engaging in different ways. They will learn from children's insights, ideas and spirit.

Why is this idea important to you?

I m a journalist, but after 9 years of working in and around media, I started my journey as a social entrepreneur with ''Family Tales'' - we create fairytales for children based on their life experiences. More than a beautiful gift to a child's confidence, these stories are powerful, therapeutic,and life-changing especially when written for the most vulnerable)I wrote stories for +100 orphans and taught many to do the same. I'm Change Leader @ReachForChange and Ambassador @MeaningfulBusiness.The main reason for starting MINDFULNATION is deeply personal. A year ago I became a mom to a little girl Jana, a year before an aunt to Lena. I would do anything for them, even if I need to fix the world for them, where I can, with what I have. This project is my present for Jana's 1st birthday. :)

€ 55000,-

Total budget

€ 50000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Child Budget - 35 000 EUR ( 5 child projects will get 7 000 EUR each)
Promotion, PR, Video journaling - 3 000 EUR
Program implementation (educators, workshop materials) - 10 000 EUR
Main event expenses - 6 500 EUR

We would use community space for our workshops.
The core team is working voluntarily in the 1st year of the project. We also invested
EUR 5k to ensure we can kick start the project in some of its elements before we get additional funding.

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We are hoping our idea and a mission is explained clearly enough, but if you have any questions and comments about the program, please tell. It could help others to understand our mission better.



Idea created on May 27, 2020
Last edit on May 27, 2020

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