Just before France began their lockdown, another successful cycle of OUI ACT, the Trustbuilding Program project in France, finished at ENNA high school. For the third year in a row the facilitating team went to Saint-Denis to work with students over a period of 13 weeks. At the end of every OUI ACT project cycle, students create their own civic projects to implement. Here are some of the projects the students developed:
Civic projects in France
Two classes wished to visit a prison. Unfortunately, the administrative procedure to visit prisons is extremely complex, so students turned to an alternative. They arranged to meet three volnteers from the Association Nationale des Visiteurs de Prison (national organization for prison visitors), who answered their questions about daily life in prison and the experiences of prison visitors.
In the OUI ACT session on authority, students meet with a police officer. One group of students wanted to continue the conversation they had started during this session. They wrote a letter to the chief of police to ask for a meeting to discuss the relationships between police and youth, which are often characterized by tension.
The captain appreciated the letter and the questions prepared by the students. He said that it was the first time a group of young people had visited the police station to have a conversation. They talked for 90 minutes. The captain answered all the student's questions and the students were appreciative of the open communication, whcich was a first for many of them.
One of the classes opted to collect food for Les Restos du Cœur, an organization which offers food and other essential products to people in need. They created posters for display in their school, set up a collecting spot and gathered over 80 products for the organization.
As we cope with the COVID-19 crisis, civic projects like the ones initiated by the students of OUI ACT are inspiring. Right now, the team in France is looking at ways to continue their work during the lockdown. Though the virus is transforming our lives in many ways, it has not stopped the need to build trust in communities and our teams are finding innovative ways to continue their work.
Do you have a project to share which builds trust between people? We would love to hear about it on either our social media or by email.
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The Trustbuilding Program is aimed at addressing divisive issues at the international and national levels, on the premise that only those who have undergone the internal process of becoming trustworthy themselves can close gaps across the globe. The Program was launched by Initiatives of Change International in 2019 with projects in Kenya, Canada and France.