5 BGN from every participation fee for Spring360 2022 will be donated to support the civic education of 100 children from the “Paisiy Hilendarski” High School, located in the village of Skalitsa. The children will develop practical skills and will learn how to present and defend ideas to the local authorities.
The Small Steps Foundation has been working with students in grades V – XII in different schools since 2019. Applying various games and problem scenarios, we educate the students about the role of the local authorities in our daily lives. We discuss the scope of power of municipalities and the decision-making process at local level; we encourage the students to come up with ideas about their own community and we support them in the realization of these ideas. Our mission is to give children the confidence that they can drive social change and equip them with the skills they need to become active citizens who stand for their ideas.
To that end, we create environments in which students can participate in the decision-making process in their school and their municipality. In addition to building their civic knowledge in practice, we teach them the skills to develop ideas and present them to their classmates, school management or municipality. We arrange meetings with principals and local authorities, we accompany the students in their decision-making journeys, and we support them in the realization of their initiatives.
We have worked with over 400 students in Sofia so far. Many of them managed to realize their ideas: they renovated classrooms, built a chemistry laboratory, installed vending machines in school corridors, repaired bathroom doors, etc. Moreover, they met with the district mayor and with municipal councilors, and discussed topics of their interest — bike paths, sport facilities, school repairs, etc. The students also made recommendations to experts on what elements to include in the Sofia Skate Park, submitted proposals for placing containers for sorted waste around schools, etc. This is how we understand child participation.
Why what we do is important:
- So that we can develop an active civil society;
- So that we can move away from the restricted civil society model that has prevailed over the past 30 years;
- So that our children can be aware how institutions work and not perceive them as distant and abstract agents;
- So that children can develop the skills to defend their opinions and ideas;
- Because only 2% of all adolescents feel well-represented.
Our challenge for the second term of 2022:
Our challenge is to get out of Sofia and work with the children from the “Paisiy Hilendarski” High School — a school that accommodates children of 15 remote villages in the Yambol Municipality. In addition to teaching them civic education in practice, we will discuss the municipality’s policies that concern them directly — sports grounds, summer camps, etc. We will seek the student’s ideas about the villages, and we will meet them with the mayor and with municipal councilors. Our programme there also includes training of teachers and social workers.
The donated funds will cover half of our travel and accommodation expenses, allowing us to work with the children and train the teachers directly. We have launched a fundraising campaign to be able to cover the remaining expenses. Thank you for your support and for your investment in the children! Learn more about our work here