Presentation Project Community Heroes

From 2013 until now, the association Volunteering for Life has managed a number of 70 international volunteers who have carried out activities in over 30 schools and high schools in Vrancea County.
In all the activities carried out by them together with the European volunteers we wanted to show them that school does not mean to learn only Romanian and mathematics, it means to learn how to become an active citizen of the community you belong to.
Through the Community Heroes project we start from the premise that active participation cannot be read, learned, listening or memorizing norms and rules, but practicing and living the involvement in the community.
Civic participation of children and involvement in the community life of which they belong to, is of great importance for the child’s development and the future adult, but also for the development of the community, of the society as a whole, so affected by passivity, lack of civic involvement, initiative.
In our project proposal we do not wish to have an age limit imposed in the exercise of the right to get involved and participate in the civic life of the community. Every child who wants to express his/her opinion about a problem identified in the community has this right.
The aim of the project is to encourage the involvement of children and young people in community life and to support initiatives that contribute to the promotion of active citizenship and sustainable development.
1. Children and young people from the 15 school institutions in Vrancea county will develop their civic spirit,
communication skills, ability to manage civic initiatives and manage difficult situations, together with the 16 ESC
volunteers, by the end of the project.
2. The children and young people from Mărăşeşti, Focşani, Garoafa, Ciuslea, Panciu, will become active citizens, able to
mobilize their colleagues to bring improvements in their life, school, environment and community, by the end of the 15-
month project.
3. The children and young people from the communities participating in the project will identify the needs of the
community together with the 16 ESC volunteers and will seek community development solutions during the 9-month
volunteering stage.
4. The 16 volunteers together with the target group of the project will promote solidarity in their own communities through volunteering actions carried out by the end of the project.
We take responsibility for associating active citizenship first and foremost with the involvement of volunteering, given that our main activity will be to support community mini-projects initiated in a voluntary manner by children/youngsters with European volunteers.
We want the project to transform children from spectators into architects of change in their own community. Children and young people, together with European volunteers and teachers become active agents of change through social entrepreneurship and community involvement. They will work as a team, gain confidence in their ability to create change and develop their 21st century skills.
By being directly involved in the change they want to bring in the community, children and volunteers will have the opportunity to feel on their own how they themselves can help solve community problems.
In other words, students will be encouraged to create their own volunteer activities and actions and bring change for the better in their community through volunteering.
The students’ classes will take place online on the ZOOM or TEAMS platform and the coordinating teachers from each school will be responsible for creating the participating classes.
The preparation of a project activity will have several steps: the first step-FEELS-in which children / young people will be faced with different situations to generate change. They will see more motivational videos to inspire them in what they will propose and in this phase they will have to feel the real problems in which they want to intervene, to bring about a change and to sketch the causes that produce or maintain them. face a person, a group of people or the community children / young people will begin to IMAGINE how they can intervene to change it for the better, so that they have a quick impact, be bold and have a long-term impact. In the ACT phase, ESC volunteers assisted by online class teachers will guide children / young people to make their own action plan in which they will take into account the next steps: detailed description of the action, list of materials, delegation of responsibilities and their timing. Then follows the implementation of volunteering focused on feelings- (How ESC volunteers feel, children / youth, vulnerable groups), action (to make a video with the development of the practical activity), change and transformation (How the ESC volunteers changed, the children / youth, the community, the vulnerable group, the people who benefited from the intervention).
In the SHARE phase – each group of children / young people will create their own story about their action and how they produced change in the community. Videos with activities and children’s stories will be uploaded on school websites, you tube, VPV association websites and partners, on volunteer groups, project group, etc ..
By participating directly in the project activities, European children, young people and volunteers will experience the process of positive change and acquire new skills. Through direct involvement in the change they want to bring to the community, children, young people and volunteers will have the opportunity to feel firsthand how they themselves can contribute to solving problems in the community.
Thanks to the activities of the project that brings together European volunteers, teachers and children / young people from the community in civic education activities, volunteering activities and solidarity campaigns, all these will provide the opportunity for ESC volunteers to develop specific skills necessary for a worker’s career. youth and education and will gain more confidence in their ability to meet the requirements of a transnational approach.
In addition, both ESC volunteers and teachers, young people / children involved, by participating in the activities of this project will learn how to react when they are faced with less common events.
All our educational partnerships represent a form of communication, cooperation and collaboration through the use of non-formal education methods that support children and young people in Vrancea County at the level of the educational process. Each time, the teachers in the schools are part of the project team and coordinators of the activities in the schools, bringing with them the experience of teacher and mentor.
Also, each time the activities addressed to the students can be modeled according to the learning need and the interest of the participants in the activities. Each time in the project activities, in addition to the main activity, we introduced handmade workshops for preschoolers, language learning groups (German, English, French), international gastronomy workshops, drawing workshops, etc ..
The partnership of the VPV association with the schools in the county has innumerable advantages, because it creates collaborative relations, clarifies various educational problems and offers a new framework for the development of the student’s personality. We consider that the initiation of different educational partnership projects are beneficial both for the students and for all the factors involved (school, family, community).
ESC volunteers, teachers and children involved in the project activities will have a greater understanding of the problems of the community and their peers and an improved level of tolerance, and their contribution to solving the problems faced by their own community or certain disadvantaged people, will constitute an important practical experience that will help them to build their character and become responsible and creative citizens.
Stimulating the initiative and the management capacities of civic actions for at least 1500 children and young people involved in the project activities, together with the 16 volunteers, will contribute to a better understanding of the methods of non-formal education; they will be more aware of the social reality of their community and of the need for volunteering as a factor for community change. The direct participants will have a greater openness towards active involvement in the community, in the world of volunteering and will practice different types of reducing prejudice and discrimination against different social categories.
Such projects contribute to the stimulation of participatory democracy and leadership development, starting from the youngest actors in the community. Due to the fact that the promoters of change participating in the project are very young, we consider that it contributes to the increase of the participants’ self-confidence, but also to the stimulation of the dialogue between the local administration and the population. Through this project we will reinforce the idea that every child can become an active agent of change in the community when they discover through their own experiences their power to bring about change.