2021 Award "Best Practice in Citizen Participation"
15th Edition 2021
Supports are subject to the following rules:
- You can support up to 5 proposals.
Fora da Caixa (Outside the Box) (Torre Vedras)
Fora da Caixa is a participative project that aims to tour education and teaching establishments in a creative way, leading children to reflect on their school, their parish and the municipality. The project is designed so that children are not just protagonists, but builders of the whole process. This initiative allows the participants to initiate themselves in the democratic process, debating ideas, understanding what the common interests and objectives are.
In the first phase, the municipality's technicians (from the areas of education and communication) go to the school with the "Box", a symbolic object that allows a playful component to be given to the participative process, which makes a connection to the imaginary of playing and uninhibits children from participating in it. After the moment of adaptation to the scenario and exploration of the object, the technicians play the role of facilitators: contextualising the objectives and ensuring that a space is built for the participants to verbalise their ideas, their reasons and their conclusions about their vision of the school, parish and city. The debate is centred on the concept of school and community in which the participating children reflect on what could be improved and what decisions they would take to ensure this. The outcome of this activity is recorded on video. In a second step, the class teachers join the process, helping the pupils to draw up a 'manifesto', based on the previous conversation. This document is presented by the Year 4 pupils to the Municipal Executive. The third phase takes place during the public meeting of the Municipal Executive, which is held on an itinerant basis in each of the participating schools' parishes. At the start of the Town Hall meeting, the Mayor welcomes the students and presents the video (the result of the first phase of the project). Then, the floor is given to a student representing the class, who reads the manifesto to the Executive. Finally, the President takes the floor, giving his opinion about the children's work, never forgetting to inform them that they will have the municipality respond to their manifesto. This meeting is broadcasted online, and the remaining pupils who participated watch it live in class. The fourth and last phase is the implementation of the suggestions/requests that were exposed by the students.
The participation of an underrepresented public is the core of Fora da Caixa, this project proves the viability and importance of involving young people in the decision-making process. The representativeness and opinions of these citizen groups should be taken into account due to their relevance, and it is up to the political decision-makers to know how to interpret their language and wishes.
The whole project was designed so that children feel involved and feel that they are the main actors in the process. Starting with the scenario - the Box - which creates an informal environment, promotes the deconstruction of the process of discussion of ideas, and ending with the act of participating in a meeting of the Municipal Executive, one of the decision-making bodies of the territory. Another important part is the response received, through the satisfaction of their requests, providing a positive reinforcement of the process in which they participated.
Fora da Caixa will continue to promote participation in the municipality of Torres Vedras and may be transferred to other territories. The continuity of the project will bear fruit in the long term, creating a more participative community.
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