Youth in Moldova Advocate for Expanded Sports Center
It is not often that youth in Moldova have the opportunity to meet with the mayor, let alone solicit financial support from local officials. However, when the youth of the Theoretic High School Mihai Eminescu met with the mayor of Hincesti last month, he was so impressed with their initiative that he allocated city funds towards their project. Through the initiative, called “In a Healthy Body, a Healthy Mind,” students will implement athletic activities between Roma and non-Roma youth, with the goal of promoting tolerance among other youth.
Applying what they learned from the Community Schools Academy about advocacy and engaging the community, the youth in Hincesti, Moldova, secured funding for their project from the mayor’s office and the school’s parental association. The project was funded in part through a small grant award they won through the Youth Civic Engagement and Dialogue Program, but the youth understood that in order to promote community ownership of their project, they would need to secure additional funding. By putting their newly acquired advocacy skills to work, youth met with local officials and were successful in getting community buy-in for their project. The increased financial support will be used to expand their vision of promoting inter-ethnic tolerance through sports.
The group recently got to work on renovating the school's locker room and equipping the gym with sports supplies in order to implement sports activities focusing on tolerance promotion. Once work on the project began, the team was surprised when the mayor’s office provided additional funding to replace the windows in the locker-rooms, a cost that was not accounted for in their original plan. Additional financial support came from the school’s parental association after the team presented the project goals to students, teachers, parents, and community members at the school. By fostering community ownership, the youth were successful in taking their project beyond the school and turning it into a community-wide effort.
Currently, the youth have completed painting the walls, organizing the locker-rooms, and replacing the windows. Planned activities include volleyball and basketball competitions between local schools, a chess tournament, relay races, and a cultural assembly. By creating a clean, comfortable, and equipped space for these activities, the youth hope to encourage others to engage in an active and healthy lifestyle and to use sports as a means of interacting with and understanding those of a different ethnicity.
To learn more about what Roma and non-Roma youth are doing to promote tolerance through YCED, read about another Youth Action Team project in Romania.
The Youth Civic Engagement and Dialogue Program in Romania and Moldova is a program of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the U.S. Department of State, and is implemented by IREX and Romani CRISS.