We live side by side every day, yet we may not engage meaningfully with those outside our immediate circle of family and friends.
How can schools turn some of these fleeting interactions into sustainable connections, to foster respect, understanding and, eventually, celebrate diversity?
Community cohesion is what must happen in all communities to enable different groups of people to get on well together. This project places students as change makers @The Heart of Communities. We want them to be involved in the cohesion process by participating in conversation and influencing the outcome.
At HEC, we developed a model for this which proved to be successful across Tower Hamlets (2016-2018) and we are keen to develop it with secondary schools, across communities with differing needs, sensitivities and cultures across Spain, Italy, Finland and Turkey and enhance our model through transnational cooperation.
DECEMBER 2018 | Our 1st Transnational Project Meeting took place, 7 – 9 December in London. We gathered as a team to work on our project, covering a variety of topics and learning from each other!
@ The Heart of Communities focuses on Learner Led Active Citizenship Initiatives for Community Cohesion.
MARCH 2019 | Our first Teaching, Learning, Training activity took place in London, from 11 – 14 March. The learners from Finland, Italy, Spain and Turkey meet for the first time.
They had the opportunity to learn from each other and to work together on activities based on the SDGs. They also had the chance to learn about the UK, as they visited Tower Hamlets schools and they shared their ideas for Community Cohesion Projects.
APRIL – MAY 2019 | We traveled to our partner for our Teaching, Learning, Training activities. Learners are developing their Community Cohesion projects and supported them, working together and sharing ideas.
MAY – JULY 2019 | Learners across our partner schools are finalising project plans, in consultation with their Community Partner Organisations and other local stakeholders. Using techniques developed during Spring’s training sessions, they are building community to consider local solutions to local issues. Across all partner countries, young learners are also reaching out to local councillors, inviting them to participate in thinking together to achieve common goals.
SEPT – NOV 2019 | Partners gathered in Italy in October, to share their final project stories and develop local dissemination plans.
‘Breaking the Language Barrier’ hopes to achieve increased cooperation between the Finnish speaking and the Swedish speaking groups in town. (16-17 year olds are visiting the local pre-school/kindergarten weekly, to encourage friendship between the two groups. Using playground games and discussions, they are helping to build a close-knit community of young children across the language barrier.)
‘Fighting climate change and saving our waters’ aims to raise awareness among all students about the seriousness of the state of our nature and what they personally can do to affect the situation. (Together with the Finnish speaking learners from they hope to elect a cross-school Environment Board who will oversee a project focussed on the Baltic Sea)
‘Thinking Together’ involves bringing the community together to decide on actions to reduce local pollution and develop a stronger social consciousness around street litter.
‘Melting Generations’ aims to create better understanding between older people and teenagers in Acquaviva, through discussions and joint skills-swap workshops.
‘The Buddy Project’ intends to implement a program of support and friendship between students on the Vocational Training Course in ‘Social Integration’ and newly arrived students, through a ‘buddy system.’
‘Walking together’ is a project which involves developing a community-based link between the ‘Social Integration’ course and local high students. Several students at the school are new to the area and are struggling to settle into their new environment. Through games and discussion, the older students are helping to promote social cohesion and respect for diversity, across the school.
‘Clean Water’ The 6-7yr olds, are working with local water agencies to reduce water wastage in their own school. They strongly feel that children and families should have a better understanding of the precious resource and as a result will reduce water wastage.
‘Clean Seas’ The children live very close to the sea and are keen to promote a clean-up to promote awareness of plastic pollution and protection of marine life.
HEC is working with 4 European partner schools on this project, running from Sept 2018 until March 2021: