Education for Sustainable Development in John Paul II Youth Club

In June 2013 Tools For Solidarity (TFS) Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) group started its educative programme with the John Paul II Youth Club.  It took nearly one year of planning, organizing, and testing activities for it to succeed. This year’s first implementation was run for 8 teenage participants with the main goals being to the increase of knowledge and understanding of:

  1. Poverty and inequalities in the world

  2. Overexploitation of natural resources

  3. Importance of hand tools for local development

During 4 sessions different activities were conducted allowing the group to be involved in a process of critical thinking and identification of their real needs and the needs of others.

TFS considers that this non-formal illustration of concepts constituted a very good introduction to sustainable and global development. Games like “If The World Contains 100 People” or “Find The Country” were part of the first session and the group was very interested, particularly in the role that TFS plays and different lifestyles across the world.

“The Giant Steps”, another appreciated activity, worked on the topic of social inequalities – Participants had to take a step for each opportunity they could get to improve their lives (e.g. education, health, access to clean water, a place to live). Thus, at the end of the game, they could physically observe the inequalities by the size of the gap between each other.

An adaptation of “The Trading Game” worked on the discrepancies in the distribution of natural resources, technology and capital between Africa and Europe. In this activity, participants had to engage in international trading and negotiate with each other to maximize their income by producing wood squares. From the start of the game there was an unfair distribution between the two groups, of wood planks, tools and capital. Therefore, participants could feel the injustice of this situation, reinforced during trading and negotiation.

Finally, a practical session was carried out: A soccer table, previously prepared in TFS’s Belfast workshop, was sanded and assembled by the participants. The aim was to show to the group that it is not always necessary to consume, many times resources are at our disposal to produce the desired product, one just needs to look around.

TFS’s ESD group thanks all the participants, but specially Fiona, educator in the John Paul II Youth Club, for her warm welcome and support. A special thank goes out as well to Francesca and John, TFS’s volunteers, for the time they have spend building the soccer table and for their availability during the last session.

The entire experience was a real success, learning was facilitated and made enjoyable according to different feedbacks. It helped us to improve some of the aspects of the ESD programme and gave us confidence to continue.

New educative sessions, 3 to 4, on social and environmental awareness, sustainable and global development are now being negotiated for the school year 2013/14. A call for expression of interest will be sent by post to 15 schools, 2 of which specialize in youth with learning difficulties — one in Belfast and one in Downpatrick.

We now hope to find enough openness from schools to deliver the programme, for the benefits have been demonstrated.