UNICEF awarded the best youth project of the previous school-year

For the past four years UNICEF’s UPSHIFT program gathered 650 young people with over 170 projects

31 January 2024
UPSHIFT dodjela nagrada 2024
Mario Topić

Čakovec, January 26, 2024 – UNICEF office for Croatia awarded the best project created in the social entrepreneurship program for young people UPSHIFT in the school year 2022./2023. The award-winning project "Grandchildren's Club Čakovec" was created by the students of Josip Slavenski Čakovec High School Žana Marie Munda, Margareta Kamenar, Niko Tučić, Magdalena Palašek, Timon Kozar and Barbara Vrčić with the aim of promoting intergenerational solidarity among students and beneficiaries of the Home for elderly and infirm Novinščak.

The goal of the UPSHIFT program is to encourage the development of entrepreneurial skills and empower young people to create solutions to challenges in their communities. UPSHIFT is implemented within the UNICEF’s programme for adolescents and young people ZABUM - For the future of young people, with support of the Croatian Office for Creativity and Innovation. Projects of young UPSHIFT teams cover a wide range of areas - education, inclusion, peer violence, fight against discrimination, preserving mental health, intergenerational solidarity, traffic safety, environmental protection, energy efficiency and other. Best projects receive financial and mentorship support for their realization.

According to the 2021 census, Croatia has 22.45 percent of people over the age of 65, and in the European Union, 44 percent of people over the age of 65 cite loneliness as their biggest problem. Research indicates that social interactions have a positive effect on the health and quality of life of people living in nursing homes and that many like to spend time with younger generations.

The winning project "Grandchildren's Club Čakovec" actively contributes to the development of intergenerational solidarity, the exchange of experiences and skills, and promotes social cohesion through the organization of regular gatherings of high school students and beneficiaries of the Home for elderly and infirm. A volunteer club was founded for this project, and 40 members participated in numerous activities during the past year, such as creative workshops, making ornaments, reading books, playing board games, and socializing while cooking and conversing. " Grandchildren's Club" continues its activities this year as well, and the implementation of the project is also supported by the City of Čakovec.

“When Margareta and I were thinking about how to help our loved ones during and after the pandemic, we never dreamed that such an honest and warm, but also powerful story could emerge from it. A year ago, we gathered a team for UPSHIFT. In those three days, with the great support and guidance of our mentor Tomislav, we worked out the project down to last details. Our guiding star was providing the opportunity for two, in many aspects opposite generations, to connect. We achieved that, but also much more. At the workshops, somewhere along the way, various experiences and advice were exchanged, but also many friendships were born. Listening to the experiences of beneficiaries and volunteers, the enthusiasm with which they talk about each workshop, we realize that we succeeded in our initial plan. That's why we thank the organizers of UPSHIFT who recognized our efforts, our professor Helena Zečar Lajtman, Barbara who continues to develop the project with us, and above all to all the volunteers and beneficiaries involved in the project”, said the member of the winning team Žana Marie Munda.

In addition to the award for the best project, UNICEF also presented "Young Hopes" award to students Lana Pavić, Lea Oršoš, Ervin Šoltić, Fran Stamenković and Viktorija Ignac from Vladimir Nazor Pribislavec Elementary School. More than 70 students from four elementary schools interested in creative visual and verbal expression, through which they want to further develop their skills and socialize and exchange experiences with students from other schools, are involved in their project "The art of Kamishibai: storytelling by using pictures".

“Young people in the world, including in Croatia, today face many challenges that will affect their future, such as climate change, the issue of preserving mental health, the right to quality education, combating the spread of fake news, and many other important topics for young people. UPSHIFT is a platform that gives young people the opportunity to be part of positive change and solve problems they notice in the immediate environment, because in this way they leave a mark on their local communities. I congratulate the winning team, as well as the 'Young Hopes' team and all UPSHIFT participants on their commendable projects. Together with our partners, we will continue to invest in UPSHIFT and other programs to create new opportunities for young people.”

Ana Dautović, Deputy Representative of the UNICEF Office for Croatia


UPSHIFT has been implemented for four years, and these are the most important figures:

  • 650 young people aged 13 to 19 from all counties participated in UPSHIFT workshops,
  • Young people created 170 projects, 64 of which were provided with financial and mentorship support for further development and implementation in local communities,
  • UNICEF invested 89.000 euro in development of projects created by UPSHIFT teams.

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Marin Ilej
Communication Officer


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