Schoolchildren’s contest “People Need You!” consists of several stages. In the first stage children apply for participation and then develop and implement their projects. This year they could bring their ideas to life during the annual nationwide volunteer event “Spring Week of Kindness” that began on April 17. In May they showcased their completed projects during the final stage of the event. It is organized by ITMO University and takes place at Social Design and Entrepreneurship Center. The organizers see “People Need You!” as less of a competition and more of an educational program that allows caring children to learn how to help others and contribute to society.

“This year we’ve had a lot more interactive events and business games aimed at helping the kids hone the skills they’ve learned. The final stage was also held in a game format. That is why we have winners among both teams and individuals. When evaluating a project the aspect we pay most attention to is its relevance. Children have to prove that the issue they’re trying to solve is a current one; they brought up statistical data, experts’ opinions, referred to standardized documents. Secondly, we look at how fully the schoolchildren have employed their newly acquired skills when implementing their project” – said Svetlana Ushakova, manager at Social Design and Entrepreneurship Center,

Participants at "People Need You!"

Team from School 174 took the first place with their project “Safe Internet for Kids 2.0”. The children had expanded on a concept they developed during last year’s contest. The project’s goal is to teach young schoolchildren how to safely behave on the web. For this purpose the team conducted a survey to evaluate kids’ awareness of rules for safely exploring the Internet and created a web-quest with games that would educate them on these rules. As the quest is openly available to anyone interested, all kinds of people can play it, note the creators. This means that one can learn the basics of informational security anywhere, anytime. Quite notably, a school in Kazakhstan had contacted the project’s authors and held a lesson on internet safety using methods developed by schoolchildren from St. Petersburg.

A project called “From Trash to Salvage: Do It Yourself and Teach a Friend” from a team representing school 261 took second place. The kids promoted conscious treatment and sorting of household waste. They conducted a large-scale awareness campaign in their neighborhood and organized meetings during which they educated others on the rules of waste treatment and the importance of recycling. Using their own funds they installed eco-boxes to collect used batteries, fluorescent lamps and paper waste and then collected it for recycling. The campaign results were published in local media and the children teamed up with local government representatives to implement a waste treatment program.

"People Need You!" contest

School 471’s team finished in third place with their project “Is There a Life Beyond Ninth Grade?” For their project, schoolchildren chose the topic of occupational orientation, which is a pressing issue for the majority of students. Deciding who you want to be in life is hard when you’re in eighth or ninth grade. To help others make that decision, the team held a series of educational meetings at theirs and other schools. At the meetings, they told others about the opportunities for vocational education in St. Petersburg, conducted occupational orientation tests and passed out leaflets describing the various colleges and secondary education schools in the city.

Many teams came to the contest having not developed an idea. For instance, four teams from school 337 showed up without a project, but each managed to successfully promote their project. Several teams even launched their own fundraising campaigns and were shown on television. For example, a television segment was made about the “Lesson in Wisdom” project. As part of the project’s goal, team members tried to lure young kids away from playgrounds – with their parents’ consent, of course. The experiment showed that most kids tended to willingly follow the teenagers. The authors of the project noted that kids understood that they shouldn’t follow adult strangers, but easily trusted teens. All the kids who ended up being a part of the experiment were taught the eponymous “lessons of wisdom” – the rules on how to conduct themselves safely when they’re outside. The project’s sponsors presented them with safety reflectors and raffled off a GPS wristwatch.

A participant of "People Need You!"

As usual, several projects taking part in “People Need You!” were aimed at cultural education. As part of the “Get to Know Your City With Ease” project, schoolchildren organized a quest at the Field of Mars with the theme “Preserving Our Cultural Heritage”. Another team launched a website entitled “Our Words Dredge Up the Past”, on which they shared photos and stories from veterans of World War II. To do that, the team made visits to veterans’ care homes, recorded their stories, and later compiled an audiobook based on that material. The project’s uniqueness is that anyone can visit the website and expand it by adding stories from their friends and family.

Other projects at “People Need You!” succeeded at: enlisting donors for blood drives, founding a film festival, staging a charity event for stray animals, as well as many other goals. A total of 40 teams took part in this year’s contest, of which 28 reached the final stage. One day, these children may become successful social entrepreneurs and continue creating volunteer projects.