The activities of the T.R.A.P. project – Tutt* Rivendichiamo Altre Prospettive (Everyone Claims Other Perspectives), selected by Con i Bambini as part of the Fund to combat educational poverty among minors, continue. As part of T.R.A.P., the Community Foundation of Agrigento and Trapani has launched the first Sicilian edition of the “Youth Bank” call for proposals.
Launched in collaboration with the Walden S.C.S Onlus Institute of Menfi (AG), this pilot experience aims to promote the active participation and empowerment of girls and boys who are in the pathways of the juvenile justice system, promoting new perspectives centered on legality, ethics, sustainability, creativity, and protagonism in their own community.
The Youth Bank, a model active in many countries, involves forming a group of young people who become responsible for a “small bank,” managing a call for proposals, evaluating local development micro-projects conceived by their peers, and funding the best ones with a micro-grant. The heart of this initiative is the financial support for micro-projects developed by the adolescents themselves to improve their communities.
In the edition realized within the T.R.A.P. project, the youths hosted by the Walden Institute’s community accommodation s.c.s. onlus were trained to manage the Youth Bank and launched their call for proposals last July. In the following months, the young people from the other territorial centers in Sicily involved in the T.R.A.P. project responded: specifically, the centers in Agrigento, Catania, Palermo, Ragusa, Siracusa, and Trapani.
The local development micro-projects, entirely conceived and managed by the boys and girls of the territorial centers, have a simple but powerful mission: to improve their communities, becoming agents of real change. Guiding the areas of intervention of the “Youth Bank” Call were the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 11 – identified by the boys of Menfi – which focuses on creating inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities and human settlements. In this way, they aim to restore their sense of belonging to the territory, encouraging them to plan and develop social responsibility.
The Youth Bank Committee, composed of the boys from the Agrigento-Menfi Territorial Center, evaluated the submitted micro-projects with specific criteria ranging from consistency with Goal 11 to the ability to involve the community, from environmental sustainability to social impact, to the quality and originality of the idea. Here’s a look at the winning micro-projects that will receive the micro-grant to bring their visions to reality.
- The Agrigento territorial center with the micro-project “There’s a Whole World Around” will carry out 3 different interventions: plastic collection days to raise awareness of the problem of plastic pollution and its impacts on the ecosystem; workshop activities focused on the construction of urban furniture; activities of reconnection with nature and awareness towards its protection in a local adventure park. The interventions, in addition to their specific objectives, aim to promote collective responsibility – on the themes of education and sustainability education – in the communities of Menfi and Santa Ninfa, involving local stakeholders. Moreover, it wants to develop in the boys a greater knowledge and trust in local institutions by involving them directly in meetings.
- The Catania territorial center with “The Heart’s Garden” will create five stations for growing vegetables in the outdoor area of F.I.E.R.I. (in a peripheral district of Catania lacking places for aggregation). These will be offered free of charge to the inhabitants of the neighborhood. In addition to promoting local and responsible consumption, it aims to start a process of urban regeneration involving the community, every plant is a sign of connection and responsibility. The area of the garden will be cleaned and equipped with recycled boxes and a community composter to support sustainable practices.
- The Palermo territorial center with “Sport for the Street” will carry out sports animation activities – with soccer, bodyweight gymnastics, and baby kickboxing – and a small traveling gym targeting children from two peripheral districts of Palermo who do not have access to free sports services. In addition to stimulating children’s interest in sports, the activities aim to promote gender equality in practicing sports and to provide social centers in the neighborhoods with skills in managing groups through sports animation activities.
- The Ragusa territorial center with the micro-project “The Inclusive Park” aims to transform a small abandoned park in the city of Ragusa into an inclusive place for young people and children. The redevelopment includes creating a green space for meeting and socializing, offering the city a new gathering point. The park aims to be a welcoming place for everyone, and for this reason, a bench for disabled people will also be installed through the project.
- The Siracusa territorial center with “Playful Squares” aims to promote the active participation of young people, adopting a self-management and “doing together” approach. Within Robinson Park (an at-risk area of the city of Siracusa and repeatedly vandalized), the young people will personally lead recreational-educational activities, particularly sports (with ping-pong, basketball, rugby) and related to circus arts. Mobile game stations will be set up weekly and circus activities will be experimented with recycling tools. The ultimate goal is to provide young people with a safe and dynamic place for leisure, while developing social responsibility towards their territory.
- The Trapani territorial center with “Bi-Quality” aims to regenerate and enhance public spaces in Mazara del Vallo and Castellammare del Golfo. In the first city, a courtyard will be cleaned and redeveloped, study tables and bins for separate waste collection will be installed. In the second, the focus is on green areas with the aim of creating a garden and a picnic area equipped with bins for separate waste collection. Both interventions aim to promote eco-sustainable behaviors and develop a conscious management of common spaces, thus contributing to the well-being of local communities. These winning micro-projects, now supported by micro-grants, are set to become, in the coming weeks, tangible interventions with a direct impact on local communities and will contribute to making Sicilian cities more beautiful, livable, and inclusive.
The pilot experience of the Youth Bank with the adoption of the challenge-based method proves capable not only of providing young people with opportunities to explore and develop their ideas but also transfers to them the power to act concretely, actively shaping the fabric of their communities.