URUGUAY, Providencia Educational Center •
The methodology of Solidarity Learning and Service (AYSS) is an active learning proposal, in which students are the protagonists of the activities, using the knowledge acquired in other educational spaces to address the real needs of a community, working in it. Students who participate in AYSS projects, learn through experience, and perform a social action for the community. —
Within the framework of the proposal carried out by the Children’s Club, one of the five educational programs of the Providencia Educational Center in Montevideo, second year students together with educators carried out the project “Places that unite”, a Learning and Solidarity Service project that focused on promoting the participation of children -understood as the exercise of an active, committed citizenship and with incidence in the local community-, addressing the issue of neighborhood squares and how they can become more inclusive, both for children and for older adults. “The main objective is to generate a space for meeting and enjoyment together with older adults and children”, said Martín Vilar, physical education teacher and educator in charge of this project.
Within the framework of the proposal carried out by the Children’s Club, one of the five educational programs of the Providencia Educational Center in Montevideo, the second-year students together with educators carried out the project “Places that unite”.
Thinking about children and the elderly in the neighborhood
The project “Places that unite” addressed collectively and in a participatory manner a concrete problem such as the issue of inclusion in the neighborhood squares. Martín told us that the idea is “to involve the children with the square, to make it a much nicer and more enjoyable space and also to generate this type of opportunities for the elderly, since there are not many proposals designed for them in the neighborhood”.
As a first step in this project, the idea was to problematize an issue, generating a motivation and giving it a meaning. “Talking with the children and looking for proposals that could be generated in the community, in the neighborhood, this project was presented,” Martín explains.
Once the project was defined, the children and the educators went to Deborah Céspedes Park, located on Rambla Egipto (Cerro de Montevideo) and to Nuevo Amanecer Square to compare the spaces and then work on it in class. María Eugenia Álvarez, teacher in charge of the group and of this project, explains: “We were able to compare both squares, see the differences, what was missing in one, what was missing in the other”. Then she adds: “The children identify that in the Nuevo Amanecer square there are proposals for children, but they did not identify that there were for adults or for senior citizens, which was our purpose, to think about senior citizens in the neighborhood”.
Once this diagnosis was made, the children defined that they would be working with the Nuevo Amanecer square, a neighborhood square located in the vicinity of the Nuevo Amanecer Neighborhood Polyclinic and close to a Child and Family Care Center (CAIF) of the Girasoles Caif.
As part of the proposal carried out by the Children’s Club, one of the five educational programs of the Providencia Educational Center in Montevideo, second year students together with educators carried out the project “Places that unite”.
Interviews with neighbors
As a second stage, they went out to meet with the community and found that the best way to find out what older adults’ thought was through interviews with neighbors. “In the interviews we did with the older adults, they all told us the same thing, that there are no proposals for them. Also, we asked them what they liked to play, what aspects of improvement they identified” explained María Eugenia, “we had to see what things we could do in the short term and what things we could do in the long term” she concluded.
Among the activities that can be carried out in the long term, the students visited the Centro Comunal Zonal 17 (CCZ 17) where they were received by the architect to whom they presented a letter with their diagnostic process and their proposals. They also shared with him their intention to participate in the Participatory Budget 2023, where improvement projects in the different neighborhoods of Montevideo are proposed and voted on. Ian, a second-year student of the Children’s Club told us that what he liked most was going to the Community Center because he had never been there before, and it was a new experience. As for short-term activities, the students, together with educators and families, visited the Nuevo Amanecer square to carry out a day of conditioning and improvement of the space. Ambar, a second-year student of the Children’s Club, shared her experience “I loved it all because we were fixing up and that’s the best thing, fixing up a square so that we can all enjoy it”. Within this day, they placed new garbage cans, cut the grass, painted the existing games, created, and painted new ground games and planted trees that were donated. “We plan to put in slides, hammocks, see-saws, handrails, also sports games for the seniors and we were seeing now if we could put in games for people in wheelchairs. So, everyone in the world can enjoy it,” commented Ambar.
Students are masters of their own learning
“The good thing about this type of learning is that the students guide it, they are the owners of their own learning, they choose what to do and it motivates them. The main thing is motivation and the desire to help, to do something for others,” concluded María Eugenia.
The Providencia Children’s Club has been operating since 2004 under an agreement with the Instituto del Niño y el Adolescente (INAU). It serves 113 children daily, who attend the public school and develop socio-educational, learning promotion, recreational and expressive activities.
As part of the proposal carried out by the Children’s Club, one of the five educational programs of the Providencia Educational Center in Montevideo, the second-year students together with educators carried out the project “Places that unite”.