T.R.A.P.: a new bench in Menfi told by the kids of the Walden Institute

T.R.A.P.: a new bench in Menfi told by the kids of the Walden Institute

In Menfi (AG), within the residential community of the Walden S.C.S Onlus Institute that welcomes minors with judicial measures from the Juvenile Judicial Authority, a group of young residents has embarked on a journey of civic engagement through the T.R.A.P. project – Tutt* Rivendichiamo Altre Prospettive (All* We Claim Other Perspectives), selected by Con i Bambini as part of the Fund to Counter Educational Poverty in Children (for more information on the project: click here). Initially skeptical, the young residents soon discovered their central role in this workshop process. This is the Youth Bank, an activity where the youngsters listened to and read the needs of their territory, created a call for proposals, and evaluated projects designed by their peers from various Sicilian cities. Projects with a direct impact on the Sicilian territory. The journey blended deep reflections with moments of fun, culminating in the realization of a tangible project for the benefit of the Menfi community. This is the story of a journey that taught the youngsters the meaning of active citizenship, responsibility, and the strength of collaboration, narrated in the first person by the youngsters.

“We are the young residents of the residential community of the Walden S.C.S Onlus Institute in Menfi, and we want to share our experience within the T.R.A.P. project – Tutt* Rivendichiamo Altre Prospettive.

We started the project activities in April 2023, and to be honest, when they presented the workshop path we were about to undertake, namely the Youth Bank, we were a bit skeptical: no one believed that we would have any particular and active role. To our great surprise, we understood, appointment after appointment, that we would have an important role: drafting a call for proposals for our peers from other territorial centers in Sicily (these are the centers activated in six Sicilian provinces as part of the T.R.A.P. project), and then evaluating all the projects presented. And it didn’t end there. Because we would also propose a project to be funded by the “Youth Bank.”

The journey alternated moments of reflection with moments of fun, like when we learned about the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, and through the game “Kick the Goal,” we decided to focus the entire call on “Sustainable Cities and Communities.” When it came time to develop our project, we decided to create something that could stay in the territory that hosts us, that of Menfi. We remember it well: following the guidance in the prompt “If you were in the shoes of the Mayor of Menfi, what would you like to do to improve our town?” we understood that it was a unique opportunity to have a say in the realization of something important. We brainstormed many project ideas, and it was nice to learn that to make decisions, we had to be more aware of the resources we possess. It’s also true that the facilitators supported us in making our project more realistic and achievable.

We understood that to network and have travel companions, one must know how to present their ideas. Here, we had the opportunity to express ourselves in person with the Municipal Administration, bringing our project idea to the municipality. The T.R.A.P. project and the Youth Bank left us with a lot: certainly, new skills that are very important in life. We learned the difference between rights and duties, discussed civilization and civic responsibilities regarding our community, talked about how to build and communicate a project, sustainability, and listening to the needs of the territory. And then, finally, on February 21, what we all planned together became a reality. We witnessed the creation of a corner of Menfi consisting of a bench and an olive tree: the bench as a meeting place and the olive tree as a symbol of regeneration and peace. The intertwined branches speak of our stories that, thanks to the community hosting us, are changing. The bench was made with the micro-financing received from the Youth Bank of the T.R.A.P. project.

At the inauguration of this space, many people were present: the operators of the Walden Institute, the president, the coordinators of the Community Foundation of Agrigento and Trapani, journalists, the mayor of Menfi, law enforcement, and many other Menfi residents who, on that occasion, recognized our efforts and praised us for what we achieved with our resources. But it doesn’t end here! In fact, the last part of our project will take place in the NaturAvventura Park of Santa Ninfa (TP) in April. Here, we will not only have the opportunity to do something good by cleaning the park from waste and thus reducing pollution in the area, but we will also participate in fun activities present there: climbing courses, obstacle courses, descents with harnesses and ropes, etc.

We are very pleased with the results of our efforts and the rewards we have received, and we hope that similar projects will be realized in the future.

The tangible realization of a corner of Menfi is the tangible result of their efforts. It shows the power of youth participation in building sustainable cities and communities. As the project approaches its conclusion in the NaturAvventura Park of Santa Ninfa, it is clear that these youngsters have gained not only practical skills but also a deep awareness of their potential impact on society. May this micro-project, and others managed by the other 5 territorial centers, inspire future projects open to the perspectives and dreams of the youth.

750 563 Fondazione Comunitaria di Agrigento e Trapani
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