RespAct utilizes boxing exercises alongside participative videography and role plays to foster community engagement among primary school children. Since 2010 we have been conducting our project weeks in Berlin schools and youth clubs.
The program achieves inclusion on different levels:
- Culturally – because the workshops are conducted in those parts of Berlin with the largest migrant population; many children there, especially girls, are not integrated in sports and social clubs (more than 80 percent of the children participating in our program come from migrant families)
- Socially – because in our out of school workshops we mix children from different schools and age levels
- Politically – because we utilize age appropriate methods to foster civic engagement among children and teenagers; they develop ideas to be implement in their community
At RespAct we don’t only provide the children with self-defense skills but initiate a comprehensive thought process about the roots of violence and what can be done on a community level to counter these. The mayor game allows the children to take on the role of the local mayor and to convince the rest of the group of their ideas for improvement. At the end of each project week the children present their ideas to teacher, parents and others. Furthermore we stay in contacts with the group after the project week by organizing public events in which decision makers discuss the ideas and make concrete commitments to realizing them.
Diana Mihov, one of the teachers we have worked with says about RespAct: „It was not only a lot of fun but also provided us with some food for thought about issues that we didn’t only work on in the past week but will continue to tackle in the next 18 months. Throughout the week it becomes quite visibly that something is happening with those children. It starts in their mindset but manifests in their behavior. You simply have to facilitate the process, continue to raise the issues and keep working on them“
RespAct encourages students to discover their own strengths and utilize them to actively change their community. Among themselves and in a protected space they learn to cope non-violently even with the most difficult situations.