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Environmental Protection in Focus – Csepel 2013: Report on the technical content

Friday, 08/11/2013
Environmental Protection in Focus – Csepel 2013: Report on the technical content

Environmental Protection in Focus workshop was held between 12th and 15th September in Csepel Youth Camp/ Csepel Community Centre, Budapest. The local government was responsible for the overall management of the current project and the full programme was prepared and delivered by Mindspace- non profit organisation.

The general aim of the programme was to bring together young people aged between 15 and 18 year, coming from 6 different “brother” cities in Central and Eastern Europe- Wolomin (PL), Szczecin (PL), Kielce (PL), Rijeka (HR), Nagyszalonta (RO) and Csepel (South Budapest),focusing on environmental issues and urban environment in particular. The idea for organising an environment protection event came because this was one of the most popular topics and people could easily identify with it. The aim was to activate them and to build a connection between citizens and local government and the role of all participants was international co-operation. Young people were expected to understand their own cities by comparing and contrasting them to the rest of the cities. They would meet each other in order to realize that although they are coming from different places they have many ideas and interests in common.

Thursday
The progamme started in the evening by welcoming ceremony, opened by Ábel Attila, the deputy mayor of Csepel. He was the first to welcome the young participant and their teachers. Shortly after his speech the young people were involved in “ice- breaking” games aiming to help them to forget about their problems at home and issues that they might worry about, being in a foreign country. The purpose of these games was to make the participants feel welcome and to enjoy the opportunity offered to them by being part of the workshop. While they were getting to know each other by shaking hands, folding and flying paper airplanes, Mindspace members held a meeting with the teachers from all the 6 regions. The main purpose of the meeting was answering all the questions the teachers might wanted to ask the organisers and shaping the common goals by giving the opportunity to each teacher to give a brief summary of their students’ specificity (age, study profile, level of spoken English etc).

By the end of the evening the young participant were separated in eight international groups named after a color and each group contained members from each of the cities. To make them more confident and to show them that this is not school, each group was encouraged to go on stage for a group picture, pretending that is a rock band.

Friday
The Friday programme started at 9am with giving an opportunity to each regional group to make a presentation related to their city and the environment and to present their posters. This part of the programme was important and exciting for all the young people as they could show to the rest of the audience how special is their own city, as well as to demonstrate their communicational and personal skills.
First the “Green city” exhibition was opened. Young showed their ideas about their future cities which is green and sustainable. More than 150 visitors came to the exhibition.
Each regional presentation lasted between 20 and 50 minutes. The presented topics were as follow:
- Nature Protection in Poland (Wolomin)
- The Green City of the Future (Szczecin)
- General Description of the Environment of Kielce and Protection of the Natural Environment in Kielce city (Kielce)
- Sustainable Tourism - Can we Reduce Eco Footprint? (Rijeka)
- What Would I Do for a Better Environment (Nagyszalonta)
- The Presentation of the Importance of the Water Purifier at South Buda and The Demonstration of the Ecosystem of Little Danube’ (Csepel).
After the presentations and the lunch break all the participants were invited to spend the afternoon discovering the city of Budapest. It was a field trip. The city center walk was organized in an entertaining and creative manner offering the young people to participate in a strategic game called “Murder in C-Minor”- following indicated city signs they were engaged in an “investigation”, taking them to all the major parts of Budapest. Meanwhile all the individuals were asked to take pictures around the city- 5 pictures that remind them something in their home city and 5 that differentiate Budapest from it, particularly in an environmental thematic.

Saturday
The programme started at 9am by opening session giving instructions about the day and playing waking- up “silly” games. Leading local NGOs were invited to give short presentations on environmental, Budapest-related topics in order to provide the participant with clear idea about the place they are. Some of the presenters were Mindspace, talking about “City and River” and Zöfi, introducing “Edible Gardens in Cities”. Climate Embassy Association has given a presentation about a practical example of city projects, called Porzó Korzó. For the rest of the day student were separated in the eight international color groups, formed in the first evening of the programme. One member of Mindspace was allocated to coordinate and mentor each of the small groups. The groups were positioned in different buildings to allow the young people to fully concentrate on their group tasks.

In the first hour of the workshop the student shaded and discussed with the group the similarities and the differences of their town and Budapest, based on the pictures they have taken in the city center the previous day.

After lunch break, all the participants were invited to visit and walk around the Kis-Duna (Little Danube) bay area.
When they completed the walk, the students went back to their international groups for the second part of the workshop. The main goal of the afternoon was each group to discuss a possible development of the Little Danube Bay area. The groups were provided with big paper sheets, colorful pens and many other materials giving them opportunity to present their ideas and creativity. They were supposed to focus on three different components- Activity, Relaxation and Information for three different age groups- Children, Adults and Elderly people, giving them the challenge to think of 9 different examples. In order to present their ideas in a visual way, each group was asked to draw a group poster representing and summarizing the discussed ideas within a tight deadline. This part of the workshop was particularly challenging for the young people, giving them the unique opportunity to get involved in a team work together with international people at their age that they did not know before. All the groups enjoyed the activity, got inspired and laughed a lot.

Sunday
The last day before the programme participants left the camp started with brief presentations of the international groups of young people, following the previous day’s workshop. The students introduced their best ideas about Little Danube Bay development, presenting their posters. The presentations were followed by goodbye hugs and exchanging personal details. The young people from all the regions were given “homework” to think and discuss on the way back home the ideas that have been born in the previous few days and to think how they can bring these ideas and implement them for the development and improvement of their own cities. The workshop was closed down by the local government and by Németh Szilárd, the mayor of Csepel.

Events in numbers:
The project involved 100 citizens, notably 16 participants from the city of Wolomin (Poland), 15 participants from the city of Kielce (Poland), 17 participants from the city of Szczecin (Poland), 16 participants from the city of Salonta (Romania), 20 participants from the city of Budapest (Hungary).Of course other people visited the events, e.g. on Friday more than 150 people came to the Csepel Youth Camp and visited the “Green cities” exhibition.

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