Racism, xenophobia, ageism, homophobia, antisemitism, sexism, or classism are just a few of many names of discrimination. Regardless of who it’s aimed at, at the core lay deeply rooted stereotypes and bias. Victims are usually people pejoratively referred to as “different”, minorities, susceptible to different forms of aggression. The most obvious forms of discrimination prevention is education. Foundation for Family Planning, which has been involved in solving the problems for 15 years, set forth a more complex and novel form of developing social competence and sensitivity. The project “Tolerance coaching – informal citizen education” is an innovative proposition of developing social attitude among those taking part, which helps generate valuable social initiatives, as well as spurns the growth of intra-social pro-civic initiatives. The choice of coaching, as the most effective method, is valid, since it implies willingness of participation, is not directive, assumes cooperation, respect and acceptance of those taking part – it leads to conscious changes to one’s attitude, values or behavior.
The project is intended towards kids and young people in Lower Silesia – beginning with preschool, up to college students, as well as teachers and counselors of education outlets in the area. That’s where attitudes are being created, values are bring formed, social solidarity and sensitivity begins.
The idea of the project is creating a trend for tolerance towards differences through informal social education in the spirit of democracy, respecting people’s rights, exclusion prophylaxis or violence prevention.
Different ways of implementing the project:
– training for students of universities in the area as well as members of local NGOs
– informal education in schools and facilities of students/children
– 2 seminars with students/teachers/counselors/representatives of local government/NGOs/media
– setting up information-education phone line
– psychological education in media
– Supporting students in forming informal groups aimed at informal social education
– raising knowledge level of teachers/counselors on racist, xenophobic, homophobic, discriminative towards gender, background, race, status, disability and their social results.
– participants gaining knowledge on how to recognize their own and the students’ anti-discrimination attitude, how to work on them, how to react to invalid behavior, how to teach tolerance toward anything/anyone “different”
– The change in perception of different forms of informal education by students. Creating a trend for tolerance and social flexibility in the spirit of democracy, respecting people’s rights, behavior free of violence, exclusion or discrimination.
The project “Tolerance coaching – informal citizen education” is fulfilled by Foundation for Family Planning from June 1st 2014 through December 31st 2014 and is being funded by Lower Silesia Marshall’s Office.
We enter the final stage of the “Tolerance coaching – informal citizen education” project. Ahead of us – the final training session. The ones so far have attracted high levels of interest, just as the ones ahead – this month and November. Our training is aimed primarily at various social studies students, as well as members of different NGOs dealing with the issue of intolerance on many levels. All our training sessions have commanded high levels of engagement from participants. We’re particularly pleased with that, as we can see that young people are actively taking part, want to learn as much as possible, and at the same time contribute much to the training. That’s exactly what we were hoping to achieve from the start. We’re happy to see young people wanting changes and looking for ways to achieve them. All the more pleasing is the fact that we still get numerous calls asking for availability of the training sessions.
Our project in a nutshell supporting anti-discrimination activities carried out amongst kids and teenagers in the Lower Silesia region. Students gain knowledge at our sessions, ranging from anti-discrimination, coaching, didactic methods, they benefit from individual coaching sessions, consultation every step of the way, and interdisciplinary support. Under supervision of professionals they also prepare their own scripts for a class. Thanks to that, they leave our training fully prepared to complete classes in various education outlets. Our project concludes in November. Judging by the number of inquiries, social interest in building a mature society, safe for all citizens is becoming a fact. At the last session, we will touch on the subject of lack of respect for “differentness” – from common and well-known issues such as sexism, racism, antisemitism, or xenophobia, to the ones spoken about less frequently, like homophobia, ageism, or classism.
The topics may be difficult, however, the atmosphere at training – contrary to what one might expect – is not grim. Often it’s a real brain-storming session, not just idle listening in. That’s also what coaching as a method is based on, drawing from participants’ knowledge, talent and capabilities, molding them slightly and aiming at a common goal. The goal at the last training session this year will not change – change attitude and behavior towards bias, phobia and discrimination.
The year is not over yet, so there still will be time for conclusions, but we can already honestly say that another one of our projects is drawing to a close successfully. We’re talking about “Tolerance Coaching – informal citizen education”, which attracted full audiences at each training session. What’s perhaps most satisfying is the fact that it was addressed mainly at students, which suggests that the will to change things for the better amongst young people is still strong.
Atmosphere at each session was great, and what’s more important, work carried out was valid. Training staff are proud, young people content, shortly – full satisfaction. That’s despite the topic not being easy or friendly. The problem with lack of tolerance is common, to achieve change we need to reach deeper consciousness, break stereotypes, open people to all kinds of “differentness”. The goal of the project was changing attitudes, as well as increasing social engagement and stimulating social initiative on the subject of preventing discrimination and promoting ideas of social equality.
Our efforts combined with the efforts of people interested in the project today brings mutual satisfaction, but tomorrow should bring a better, more open and friendly future. After all, participants were young people, who will in turn pass on the knowledge and attitude – during their future work in pedagogics, psychology, advising or coaching.
High interest in the project also stems from the proposed form of the training. Coaching means voluntary participation, isn’t directive, is based on cooperation, respect and acceptance of participants – thus it leads to conscious change of one’s attitude, values, behavior. We, as well as the participants, witnessed that at every training session. It was much appreciated, and resulted in participants recommending the training to their friends, which in turn meant high turnout up until the last November sessions. We can only regret the project drawing to a close, since we could easily fill the spots for next few meetings. At the same time we invite all to take advantage of our projects due to commence in 2015.
Change in attitude among Lower Silesia citizens towards signs of discrimination, increasing the level of social activities on the topic of discrimination prevention, promoting the idea of social equality – those were our main goals for the project. We can honestly say we’ve achieved them. The project, which concluded in December was a significant success for Foundation for Family Planning – merit-wise as well as attendance-wise. The whole program lasted six months, in total over 1000 people took part.
“Tolerance coaching – informal citizen education” project was mainly aimed at students of social majors and employees of various NGOs dealing with the problem of intolerance on many levels. Between July and mid-November we completed 10 training sessions. Every one of those 8-hour classes gathered 15 participants. Separately, we completed 40 shorter sessions (2 hours) for youngsters in various correctional or educational facilities, a total of around 1000 people.
Training sessions were the basis of operation within informal citizen education, however, the project’s scope was much wider. We set up counseling and advising services for students and pupils, which amounted to 50 hours. We prepared and handed out 200 sets of training materials. To conclude the project, we organized 2 seminars for 100 people.
Our training looked at the subject of lack of respect for “differentness” very broadly, from common and well-known issues like sexism, racism, antisemitism or xenophobia, to those less spoken of, such as homophobia, ageism, or classism.
Work-intensive classes were aimed at increasing levels of knowledge among teachers, pedagogics, students, or members of various organizations on behaviors discriminating towards others. The goal of the training was the change in perspective on various forms of informal education, as well as finding methods of making tolerance and respect somewhat fashionable.
The innovative, in both form and execution, project, was satisfying for both participants, as well as trainers, who got the opportunity to work with extremely engaged groups in great and creative atmosphere.
There was no shortage of people wishing to take part in the “Tolerance coaching – informal citizen education” project. Those who missed it due to lack of available spots, or those who took part but wish to benefit from our offers yet again are invited to take part in our projects for 2015. All information on those can be found on our website www.trr.info.pl or our facebook profile.