Fundacja Wspomagania Wsi (Rural Development Foundation)
“Space for Action” is a year-long project aiming to train 24 (12 teams of 2) teenagers from different rural areas of Poland to become more socially engaged residents of their communities and beyond. This goal is to be achieved by supporting the youth in planning and executing their own social projects within their communities based on social diagnosis thereof. This process will be backed with 4 training workshops (84 hrs) with tasks to be completed in between and support of experienced mentors.
Training workshops - Warsaw, Poland.
Youth projects - rural communities of participants’ residence.
Participants are recruited from different rural areas of Poland problems of which are common nationwide. 2016 ESS Round 8 study shows that only 7.3% of researched youth are socially engaged and 2010 Stocznia study that 16% of researched rural youth are. Researchers indicate that the lack of available organizations supporting youth, lack of partner adults or the inadequate extracurricular offer of local community centers, libraries and schools, and the small pool of young adults and other youth to draw inspiration from are to blame.
The above translates into a more complex youth problem – poor social empathy, poor understanding of social dynamics and diversity, poor participation in democratic processes, poor ability to understand individual strengths and grow as an individual.
The participants get to know local actors such as the local government, small business owners, community centers, libraries and NGOs, and learn about their roles in communities. The young learn about local problems by surveying residents of their communities. The participants reach out to local actors to get approval for their projects (if needed be) and/or to join hands with organizations or individuals. They can also recruit additional team members within their communities to strengthen their teams of 2.
The aim is to establish the bond between the participant and his or her community by boosting the feeling of pride in youths’ achievements, recognizing they have a say in their communities and their actions result in real local change, and gaining trust and interest of local actors.
Our main target group are teenage residents of rural communities with population up to max. 20 000 who 1) are aligned with a local NGO and are socially engaged, 2) are not affiliated with any particular body but come up with social projects as informal groups or individuals, 3) have no previous experiences with social activism but wish to start.
Our secondary target group are participants of youth projects, many of whom are disadvantaged rural residents such as lonely seniors and children from low-income families. The expected turnout in a youth project varies from 70 to 300 participants which totals to a max. of 3600 people (excluding participants) affected directly with our project and thousands more if the youth remains active in their communities after the project finishes.
June-Sept 2020: Application process. Applicants complete two video tasks.
Oct 1-4,2020: MTG 1. Initiation. Social diagnosis (SD) tools. Summary meeting for “Space for Action 2019-20 group”. Both groups mingle.
Oct-Nov, 2020: SD of participants’ communities.
Nov 5-8, 2020: MTG 2. Diagnosis’ outcomes. Project planning. Communication tools.
Nov 2020-March 2021: Participants develop project ideas with help of 4 mentors and attend 3 online status meetings.
March 4-7, 2021: MTG 3. Presentation of project ideas. Hurdles in project execution. Project funding.
March-June 2021: Implementation of project ideas + 2 online status meetings.
June 16-21, 2021: MTG 4. Outcomes of the projects. Summary of the project. Initiation meeting for the “Space for Action 2021-22” group. Groups mingle.
The participants are expected to gain more confidence in starting independent social projects within their community and beyond based on a better understanding of the local context, social and political powers shaping the community, by taking pride in personal achievements, by discovering one's agency in a community and by experiencing personal growth. Also, they are expected to serve as role models and inspiration for socially unengaged youth.
Another success factor is the growth of social empathy, recognition of diversity and increased participation in democratic processes.
Ipsos poll indicates that 18-29 y.o. had the smallest turnout in 2018 local elections in Poland and shows that 34% of them declared interest in far right, anti-democratic parties. It seems that often young people are either not interested in active citizenship or are lured by populists.
We believe that our project is one of many ways to stop that trend by creating a strong bond between a young individual and his/her community. It can be achieved by giving the participants freedom to explore local problems and come up with their own creative solutions to them. The experience of having the real impact and one's voice heard, and discovering and acknowledging diversity is what ultimately fuels young people to become more socially engaged and less prone to populist voices.
We strongly believe that well developed civic societies is what makes countries less vulnerable to the spread of populism and undemocratic ideas. As previously quoted studies show it is important to introduce the idea of a civic society to young people who are more prone to lean towards radical views and to create the opportunity to put this idea into practice.
This project also focuses on youth because their need to act is often left unmet in local communities. We want to answer that need by offering young people what we value most – the experience of partnership, collaboration, respect, personal achievement and local impact because we believe these ultimately support and boost social empathy in youth to later become socially responsible adults who value democracy.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Accommodation costs: EUR 8 846
Trainer: EUR 3 807
Food: EUR 3 544
Workshop venues: EUR 3 414
Mini-grants for participants’ projects: EUR 2 626
Education and work items (self-assessment cards, notebooks, ring binders, canvas bags): EUR 2 265
Transportation: EUR 1 313
Coordination: EUR 1 094