In the small town of Kardzhali, Bulgaria, Citizen Participation Week was deemed very productive with a planned students’ campaign at full swing throughout the week. The CPW banners were hung in three schools in Kardzhali and the events carried out were all aimed at civil education for children and young people.
On 20th September, SDA held an event called Volunteers Day which was organized together with American volunteers from the Peace Corps. Students from all three schools participated in the demonstration which included speeches and a children’s entertainment programme. Later, community members and American volunteers gathered for a meeting where they discussed civil issues and solutions for improving the situation at local level.
On 21st September, SDA did a presentation about volunteering at “Kliment Ohridski” school. The presentation was followed by a lecture and a Q&A session. SDA established their first organization of young volunteers!
On 26th September a teleconference was held with participating students from Bulgaria, Italy, Poland, Spain, Greece, and Portugal. The event was covered and filmed by the local media. It was supported by the Regional Forestry Directorate in Kardzhali, foreign partners, and SDA.
As a member of a national NGO network, SDA announced its CPW activities through various social media and networking sites in order to inform a wider audience about Citizen Participation Week, the Citizens Network and Bulgaria’s involvement with the organization.
This year, the Centre for Community Organizing initiated an event in its home town, Banská Bystrica, as part of Citizen Participation Week. CKO’s team took to the streets in the Sásová neighborhood of Banská Bystrica in order to promote the new community centre there. The aim of this initiative was to inform residents about the opening of the centre and to gather their opinions and suggestions on the improvements and developments they wish to see in their neighborhood. Together with the centre’s staff, CKO’s team built a tent outside the community centre and invited passers-by to talk about the new establishment and the advice and activities that will soon become available there.
Community centres are not unpopular in Slovakia, but there certainly is a lack of awareness on the services they provide and the ways in which they can assist the community. In addition to leaflets about the centre itself, CKO also handed out a summary of the Code of Good Practices, a guide outlining the principles and guidelines for civil participation in decision-making processes that are to be implemented at local and national level in Council of Europe member States.
The event was deemed a success, with many locals stopping by and sharing their opinions and comments with us. Our hope is that the centre becomes ever more popular over the following months and that residents are aware of how they can benefit from it.
In addition to promoting the new community centre in the Sásová neighborhood, CKO also took on an initiative to raise awareness of citizen participation at theCatholic Grammar SchoolŠtefan Moyzes in Banská Bystrica. In front of a large group of about 50 penultimate and final year students, Chuck Hirt talked about citizen participation, CPW, and the successes CKO has managed to achieve at local level and beyond. He then proceeded to introduce a game called Ground Ball which is designed to give participants a first-hand experience of empowerment, participation and exclusion.
Twenty students participated in the game while the rest observed its development. At the end, the participating students from the winning and losing teams respectively were asked to share how they felt being the stronger or the weaker in the game. The aim of the game was to portray in an interactive manner what citizen exclusion in the decision-making process feels like.
CKO is looking forward to returning to the Štefan Moyzes Catholic Grammar School as we recognize the importance of youth involvement in citizen participation initiatives.
Well, hello again! We decided that the CALLDE project website needs a blog – a place/space where you’d be able to learn about any exciting news and updates we’ve got!
Watch this space!