“We want to get noticed for our abilities and qualities”
Through Upshift, young people are changing their environment for the better
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"I'm not a puzzle piece to fit in" - is a message sent by the "Bumblebee" team from Donja Vidovska near Velika Kladuša. Their project is one of the top five at the 6th UPSHIFT workshop for young people, whose ideas were awarded with funds of BAM 3,000 each.
"We chose this topic because we noticed that many students in our school do not have the opportunity or resources to show their creativity, and even if they succeed, others consider them strange because of it. We want to show that being different, expressing yourself and saying what you think is not a bad, but a positive thing", say Sara, Emel, Sarah, Nejla and Saira.
The team organized a jewellery-making workshop "Be creaTIve", for which they bought the material from the funds received, and their idea is that everyone who makes jewellery can take one piece for themselves, while leaving the rest for the sales exhibition. As part of the project, they also organized a painting workshop.
"Even though the opportunities are at our fingertips, young people still encounter the problem of society's lack of understanding for different ones. Students are often labelled as "weirdoes", they are "thrown out" of society, but in fact "different" means having broad perspectives, developed abilities and creativity", explains the young team, adding that they want to encourage students to keep their personality and be a motivation for others: "We encourage them to be "role models" because there are many of us who are "different" and we want to be noticed for our abilities and qualities, not to be labelled."
In Velika Kladuša, the "Lala" team, through the project "Female body as a taboo topic", addressed the topic of women's reproductive health, so they organized a presentation of their work in the Alternative House of Culture.
"With our peers, we discussed participation in UpShift workshops, women's body health, eating disorders, menstrual health and other topics in order to contribute to making this no longer a taboo topic. Our target group was mostly boys who showed an interest in the topic. Paediatrician Dr. Azra Kudić Keserović provided us with great help in connection with the professional part of the presentation," say students of the Gymnasium Lajla, Lejla and Asja from the Team "Lala".
"This experience helped us to strengthen our self-confidence, teamwork, but also to get to know ourselves. We learned a lot, of course, but we also had fun along the way and we are very grateful that we got the opportunity to participate and implement our project", they added.
The "Eco podvig" team from Bihać implemented the project "Awakening of environmental awareness", which, they say, was prompted by the fact that large amounts of inadequately disposed or untreated waste can be seen everywhere around.
"The consequences are innumerable, and one of the main ones is that through carelessness and lack of environmental awareness, we put our own lives and the lives of other living beings at risk too. As part of the project, we took part in the Eco Bis fair in the Una National Park. As a team, we held workshops where children and adults could paint canvas bags and learn more about the importance of ecology and caring for the environment", say Naida, Esma and Ernad from Prekounje Bihać Primary School, who put the theory into practice and organized a garbage clean-up action in their town.
They were joined in the cleaning action by the second winning team "Carpe Diem", which dealt with the problem "How to increase the tolerance of children and young people and reduce discrimination in school?"
"Our project should instigate thinking about which groups we have the most prejudice against. By learning the skills of non-violence, multiculturalism and interculturality, we also learn about preventing conflicts caused by differences between people, which later lead to violence and discrimination", say Sumeja, Nejla and Eldin from Primary School "Harmani 2" who, through workshops, theatre and other methods, tried to bring to everyone how important it is to fight against discrimination and prejudice. They held workshops for sixth-grade students and organized a lecture by police officers at the school for their older mates.
Team "Osmijeh" from Bosanska Krupa, through the project "Youth fight against depression", held workshops with children and young people in order to try to reduce the stigma towards psychologists, and told their peers that there is no shame in seeking professional help.
"Depression and lack of self-confidence occur increasingly more often among young people, and they do not know who to turn to for help and have the wrong image of psychologists. In order to try and change that, we organized workshops and a lecture in cooperation with 'Plavi telefon' (Blue Phone), whose team was willing to get involved, so one of their members held a workshop in Bosanska Krupa", explain Hasan, Samed, Dilajla and Adin from "Prva Primary School" in Bosanska Krupa.
In cooperation with the 'Blue Phone' - a counselling line for children and young people, members of the team sent 'Blue Phone' flyers to all schools in the Una-Sana Canton so that all children have the opportunity to be informed about how to turn to them for help.
"The UpShift workshop represents a great opportunity for young people, we learned various skills through it, met many great people and made various friendships. We enjoyed all the activities that were organized as part of UpShift, and of course our own activities, which would not have happened if we were not part of this great story", concludes the "Osmijeh" team.
Upshift workshops are implemented by the Genesis Project organization from Banja Luka in partnership with UNICEF in BiH and with the financial support of USAID Bosnia and Herzegovina, as part of the project "Strengthening social and health protection in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in BiH".
* This article was realized in cooperation with the UpShift teams, who submitted photos and reports on the implemented activities.