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“Public Achievement Goes to the Visegrad Countries”
November 21st, 2016

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“Public Achievement Goes to the Visegrad Countries”
May 10, 2009
The project was supported by the Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe (www.ceetrust.org) and the International Visegrad Fund (www.visegradfund.org).

MTO strongly feels that Public Achievement (PA) is one of the most effective ways of enabling young people to be active citizens and to take responsibility for solving problems that are of importance to them. As a result of this project PA is being implemented in 19 schools or communities in Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic and Poland.

Groups of 12 participants from each Visegrad country were recruited by the regional partners. Two five-day trainings in PA mentoring run by Agata Kita and Anna Różycka were held in Nowy Sacz, Poland in July 2008, first for Hungarians and Poles and then for Czechs and Slovaks. All the participants left with a clear idea of what it takes to be a PA mentor and a fairly detailed plan for creating a PA group in their respective communities and schools.

The new mentors began working with PA groups in schools and communities in the autumn. MTO trainers made site visits to each PA group to provide consultation, documentation and to help publicize the program and create a basis for spreading it to other schools. Each PA group in Poland, Slovakia and Hungary received at least two visits from the Polish trainers in 2008 and 2009. Other Polish groups and the Czech groups were visited in early 2009.

We believe that the PA program in general and this implementation specifically is increasing positive engagement among youth, providing an alternative for constructive rather than destructive behavior and encouraging cross-cultural awareness and understanding. By providing participants with skills in analyzing and tackling problems, along with concrete opportunities to use these skills in a meaningful way, we are together raising a new generation of citizens who are active and engaged.

The project began in April 2008 and lasted until March 2009. We believe that the work of the groups will continue and spread in the coming year.

Hungary:

“Sweet House”, Nyirtelek: Eight youngsters living in this boarding house initially created for Roma children decided to work together to preserve and propagate Romany traditions which have not been previously recorded and are therefore easily forgotten. The group, led by Zsolt Batari and Gergely Szaplonczay, used PA to plan their activities, first connected to Roma Christmas celebrations (advent wreaths and homemade candles) and are now using the Internet to discover Roma cuisine. They share their work with their colleagues during group meetings and by using a bulletin board.

“Newsboy”, Nyirtelek: Eight 8th-grade members of this PA group are fighting for freedom of speech and expression at school and are planning to organize a party to raise money for a public address system for their school. With the guidance of Iren Gyurisne Torok and Andrea Kaszab, they had a very detailed action plan and division of roles. Once they have the system in place, the group will be responsible for the programming.

“SOS”, Nyiregyhaza: After reading a newspaper article about a death on a street because the emergency services arrived too late, the group decided to organize First Aid courses and raise awareness of the importance of knowing what to do in such situations. Renata Szedlak and Gergelyne Szaplonczay work with these 15 elementary school students. They started by getting in touch with the local medical school and managed to get someone to teach them how to do First Aid and now they are making a plan to spread this knowledge to other schools. Their slogan is, „Doing good is good!”

“START”, Nyiregyhaza: 12 members from the last grade of a special school organized a senior prom with the aim of letting the community know they exist and have a right to the same experiences as non-physically and mentally challenged people. Zuzana Batarine and Sandorne Nagy worked with the group to make the evening successful for the 150 (!) guests. They have laid the groundwork and hope this will become a new tradition at their school.

“Bright Eyes”, Nyiregyhaza: This PA group consists of 24 kids from 2nd-7th grades who want to be social entrepreneurs in the future. To this end they are taking an active role in organizing many school activities that are usually done only by their older colleagues. Their mentor, Dora Jakab, has done a good job of making sure that each group member has a role to play and is involved in the group work. They have divided themselves into smaller groups responsible for very specific tasks.

“Hungarian Forrest Gumps”, Miskolc: 10 mentally challenged teenagers are working together to help find work places for their peers at the school. They plan to organize a reverse job fair where they invite potential employers to see what they, as potential employees, can do. Usually such students only find menial work. They want to show that they are able to do art work and are quite creative. Esmese Kundra and Marta Ballane Karsai mentor this group and assist them in marketing their skills. The school administration is very supportive of the PA program.

Poland:

“Elves”, Nowy Sacz: 7 pre-schoolers want to work together to create „learning corners” for their peers. They are not only raising money amongst their families and community, but also encouraging contributions of materials that can be used in these „corners”, thus encouraging re-use instead of disposal. Jolanta Skowron and Jolanta Jelenska guide the young PA-ers through the process of planning and implementation of their plan. The kids hope to open the „corners” by the end of March.

“School PA Agents”, Nowy Sacz: In order to improve school conditions for everyone, this active group of 5th graders, mentored by Katarzyna Chyclak, began by tackling the problem of hygiene in the school bathrooms. They went as a delegation to the school director to learn the causes of some of the problems they hoped to solve. It turns out that their schoolmates’ misbehavior is actually the source of the problem. They are now monitoring infractions of school rules and putting up reminders (like road signs) all around the school hallways to promote better behavior.

“Splot in Green”, Nowy Sacz: Ten students (13-19 year olds) want to maintain the green space around „Splot”, their middle and high school. Guided by Katarzyna Gryzlo, they intend to put up a bike rack to encourage their peers to use non-polluting means of transportation. They will also take care of the school garden and sport grounds to make lessons in open air a possibility for students and teachers. Their first initiative looking beyond the immediate school will involve a campaign to force dog-owners to be more responsible and curb (clean-up) after their dogs.

Slovakia:

“Roma Girl Club”, Kosice and Detva: Encouraged by their older colleagues to discuss gender issues, violence, illiteracy and home economics, the PA group in Kosice, mentored by Irena Adamova, has created an Internet and PC club open to the wider community to promote education. The PA group in Detva, mentored by Bozena Berkyova, is supporting personal development and hobbies. They have organized Slovak languages courses to improve language skills of Roma. Non-Roma volunteers from „Karamelky” are the teachers.

“Roma Women’s Forum”, Kosice: This adult PA group has organized a campaign to raise awareness of the existence and role of Roma women in Slovak society. They found many ways to give a voice to these women. Igrid Lukacova worked with the group to design a logo combining the Roma flag and an aerial view of a Roma woman’s dress as she spins. The promotional materials, including their slogan, „We want to be seen and understood”, were pasted on the outside of a bus which toured the country. They organized small „happenings” and encouraged Roma women to invite their non-Roma neighbors for coffee and chatting.

“Karamelky”, Detva: The youngsters in this PA group are encouraging better relations amongst Roma and non-Roma kids. Jana Luptakova and Jozef Luptak work on a regular basis. Their first activity was to organize and cheerlead at an anti-racism football game. Now they are preparing a performance about tolerance which will be shown not only in Detva, but also in Rimavska Sobota.

“Roma Mothers Center”, Kremnica: This adult PA group works with Roma mothers (including underage ones) to provide them with space for meetings and counseling. Blanka Koncokova and Darina Tokoliova are the group mentors. The group offers short workshops to teach parenting skills and basic health care of children. Additionally they want to encourage Roma women to work and give them skills that can be used either to create and sell handicrafts or even find jobs in the wider community. “Youth Club”, Kremnica: These young Roma are working with Roma and non-Roma youth to promote hobbies and personal development. They plan an integrated summer camp for 40 kids to encourage mutual understanding. Pavel Berko and Zuzana Tokoliova have worked with the group to design a program that integrates youth in work and play. During this 2-week summer camp Roma kids will teach their non-Roma peers.

Czech Republic:

“Our Children”, Ostrava: With the guidance of Dagmar Suchankova, the PA group has managed to finally get permission to create a playground in a settlement where many children have no room to play. The group had found an empty lot which would make a perfect play area for local kids who had only the street as a playground until now. The first challenge was to prevent it being used as a garbage dump. They got parents to come together and write a letter of petition to the local government. Then they approached the government with a plan designed by the kids to create a play area. Not only was it accepted, but in April 2009 there will be a decision regarding funding for this area.

“Keep Our Kids Safe”, Ostrava: Helena Brozova works with families to prevent children from being removed to foster homes. 20 kids, 10-14 years old, work with their parents to solve the problem of traffic safety near the school. They examined several options and have managed to get a sign „Slow Down, Children” posted on the busy street. They have applied to have a speed bump built as well and are waiting for the decision from the traffic police.

“Jarka and Krystian”, Chomutov: Jarmila Kucharova works with a colleague, Krystian Drapak, in a counseling center for Roma. They are using PA methods to solve problems of single mothers and female seniors and to increase the self-confidence of Roma women. Chomutov has 50,000 citizens, of which 6,000 are Roma. In 2008, the center provided free social and legal aid to 232 clients.

“David and His Group”,Chomutov: 15 teenagers (13-17) meet twice monthly with Ewa Ridajova and her colleague David Kuchar. They are using PA to maintain Roma traditions (dance, music, arts and crafts) and to promote Roma culture among non-Roma in Chomutov. On December 18 they performed during the „Chomutov Days”, which was televised. Also their activities have been shown on the main TV station in Czech Republic. [End]

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