The Generation Project: Community Partnerships for Youth
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Town Council Amadora, Office of the High Commissioner for Immigration and Interculural Dialogue
Creative communities meet the needs of youth with investments in human capital
The district of Casal da Boba is located in the Amadora municipality in the northwest region of Lisbon. Casal da Boba is made up of about 700 houses. Over 50 per cent of the population is between 10-24 years old and the majority of residents are of Cape Verdean origin. The population of the area is also very marked by unemployment, low income, poor schooling, family instability and very often a lack legal status and documents.
The high crime rate of the area and the concern that these factors would only compound over time led to the creation of a strong public and private partnership, focused on finding some solutions to break the cycle of another generation living in ongoing poverty and exclusion.
The goal of the project was to change the options available for a generation living in this community, to tackle and to prevent the major factor of social exclusion that affects youngsters and instead, provide them with real opportunities.
A partnership with the City of Amadora, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the ACIDI – High commissioner for Integration and Intercultural Dialogue helped to also create an organizational partnership with actors and representatives from local government agencies for education, training, social care and health. The private sector was also heavily involved.
The project shifted the traditional roles and actions of public and private organizations. For instance, teams of facilitators working in tandem with social workers and community volunteers worked the streets speaking to groups of residents. The range of people that became involved in this program included anthropologists, economists, language professions, enterprise managers, hair dressing teachers, musicians, psychologists, animators, violinists as well as librarians and priest.
To achieve the primary goal of changing the opportunities available for a generation of youth in Casal da Boba a series of targeted programs (based on age groups and specific barriers) were created.
This included: a Youth Workshop to combat truancy and school dropouts with study and education support, Get Over It a program to help children with judicial problems by providing direct and personal supervision for each child, For You If You Keep Studying which provides entertaining activities such as basketball, theatre and percussion from within the school as a means of improving attendance; Hairdressing Workshops which helps students that have dropped out of school to train at professional hairdressing salons; More Health Program to provide speech therapy, glasses and dental treatments; A Learn and Play Program that provided young preschool age children with a place to go after school and engaged them in theatre, dance and arts and You Can Be Anything You Want To an initiative that supports teenage mothers.
Others programs included training facilitators to act as bridges between the neighborhood and outside world. Six months after this program was launched facilitators were supervising over 226 cases of high risk children.
Additional programs included a youth orchestra, an equivalency program for 9th graders and a transnational fair (held in conjunction with Rotterdam and Milan) to showcase organizations working in the field.
The success of the program is evident from the numbers that they were able to involve from the community. Since 2005 over 1,000 children and young people have benefited from the project.
The Generation Project has made it possible for children and youths in the neighbourhood to join an orchestra, learn judo, go back to school and get professional qualifications in the areas they prefer – to name just a few examples of the actions aimed at furthering social integration.
In 2007 and 2008 the success of the project resulted in additional funding from the EU’s EQUAL initiative.
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Making it Work for You:
- Effective community development projects require a participatory approach for community perspective, voice and engagement.
- Multi-sector partnerships bring additional resources and fresh perspectives to investments in social change. Look for a wide platform of support from all potential stakeholders when planning community development projects.
- Creating opportunities for skills and social development --from vocational training to recreational programs-- can provide sustainable solutions and be more effective than policing when dealing with problem youth.
For this Good Idea contact:
Jorge Miranda , Municipality of Amadora, Department of Education and Culture
Av. Gago Coutinho, 49 – 3.º Andar