Before autumn holiday, 140 pupils in Espoo were challenged as peacemakers in collaboration with the City of Espoo, using the Gutsy Go method. Gutsy Go is a team that offers tools to young people in cities to help them improve their own community.
The eighth-graders of the Lintumetsän koulu planned and implemented 14 brave peace-making actions. The theme continues in Espoo’s schools throughout the whole school year. November, for example, is the time of the annual Ahtisaari Days, named after Finland’s former President Martti Ahtisaari whose peace-making and conflict resolution efforts as a diplomat have been globally noticed and earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008.
The results of the pupils’ hard work during the Gutsy Go week were premiered at the Finnkino movie theatre in the shopping centre Sello, Espoo, in the form of short documentaries. Showcasing the peace-making efforts of the young people, the films both moved and impressed the audience, making them think deeply about the role young people have in society. The audience consisted of parents, teachers, people that the young people met during their projects and other Espoo residents.
“I was moved by the talent the youngsters showed. Gutsy Go is a living example of what young people can do when given the chance to try. Young people are not just the future, they are also the present,” said Habiba Ali, the chairperson of the Participatory Espoo group, describing her feelings after the premiere.
The young people completed their projects in a week. They for example intervened in bullying by providing emotional skills training to bullies, organised accommodation to homeless people, taught digital skills to prisoners to facilitate their reintegration into society and became pen pals with lonely elderly people. Some of the videos the pupils shot during their projects will be shared through the social media channels of the Finnish Education Unit of the City of Espoo and the Gutsy Go over the following weeks. Brave peace-making actions will continue at the schools also after the intensive Gutsy Go week.
The Gutsy Go week is part of the participation and democracy principle highlighted at Espoo-based schools throughout this school year. The operational culture at schools is being constantly developed in Espoo, and each year the schools focus on a specific principle.
The same topic will continue during the national Ahtisaari Days organised in Espoo on 15 November 2018. The event’s objective is to increase awareness of conflict resolution, peace-making and the importance of reconciliation. Middle school pupils and upper secondary school students will learn about peace-making, practice negotiating and acquire conflict resolution skills.
During the Gutsy Go week a group of pupils looked for penpals who would write with lonely elderly people
. As well as the group itself, people from Espoo, German and Great Britain volunteered to write with cards and letters.