Children-Superheroes Change the World

The first I CAN Children’s Global Summit was held in the capital city of Italy from November 27th till November 30th, 2019. Among 2000 children from 47 countries there were even four teams from Serbia and one team was from Barajevo. The team from Barajevo was represented by Anđela Minić and Teodora Ivanković, the students in Primary School “Knez Sima Marković”, with their general-education teacher teacher Biljana Popović.

The Summit was preceded by the “I CAN 2019" celebration which, on November 24th in the Centre for Cultural Decontamination in Belgrade, brought together all schools, teachers and students who participated in the development of the Design for Change Projects during the year. The attendees had the opportunity to learn more about the projects in which students worked on solving the problems in their local community. Their teachers – mentors talked about their experiences and challenges, answering the questions of children and the audience. Smiljana Grujić, a psychologist, coordinator and the author of the programme “Support, not Perfection” from the Novak Djokovic Foundation, talked about why it was important to give children room for expressing their ideas. They all together, with a big applause, supported the courage of the children wishing to change the world and encouraged them to continue doing so. 

The I CAN Children’s Global Summit in Rome was an event which showed that it appreciates the young initiators of changes. It was a world celebration of power and ingeniousness of every child. During the four days of the summit, the children were given credit for their courage and decisiveness to change the world around them. A clear message was sent that children can change the world around them, they just need to be given the opportunity to make changes in their environment from an early age and become aware of their capacity for creating their own life.

The ceremony for the summit opening was organized in the Congress Arena – Palazzo dei Congressi in the presence of the mayor of Rome. During this event, participants danced a flash mob and wore traditional costumes. The students from Barajevo and their teacher wore traditional costumes from Šumadija, owing to FA Šumadija, Barajevo. In the following two days, the mini BTC (BE THE CHANGE) conferences were organized in several parts of the city, during which the selected teams were given the opportunity that they, with their stories about the change, represent not only themselves and their school but their country as well. 

On the third day of the summit, the school project "Reducing the population of stray dogs on the territory of Veliko Borko", under the code of the story SER-ENG-648040072-2018 on the global platform Design for Change (DFC), was presented by the students of the Barajevo school, Anđela and Teodora. By working on this project, the students recognized the problem in their local community (the problem of a large number of dogs in the streets), developed creative ways to solve it, tried out their solutions and shared the results of their work with the whole world, by sending an urgent message “I did it... You can too!”

The problem of stray dogs (irresponsible ownership) is not an issue only in their place, but throughout Serbia. The students came to the conclusion that the problem must be addressed at its root. They were very active and interested in the work during the implementation of all steps/activities, manifested a great creativity in their work and felt satisfaction when presenting the results of the project to the Teachers ' Council, Council of Parents, School Board.

The children had the opportunity to meet and spend time with other teams. They enjoyed the conversation and common games. In the afternoon, all four days, the participants of the summit had an organized tour of Rome. 

Pope Francis, the 266th Bishop of Rome, head of the state and the sovereign of Vatican, supported this event and welcomed all participants and delivered a speech full of love and mercy at the summit closing ceremony. In order to thank him, the participants of the summit made a huge blanket (from a piece of the national material from every participating country) representing the spirit of the I CAN of each country and gave it to him. 

The I CAN superpower makes every child aware of the world around him/her, equipped with the skills for taking action and trained to create a desired and sustainable future – today. If children are ready for the future, the world will not need to be repaired.

Design for Change je međunarodni, nagrađivani edukativni program namenjen deci od 5 do 18 godina, osnovan 2009. godine u Indiji. Danas je prisutan u više od 60 zemalja i osnažio je više od 32.000.000 dece širom sveta. Program ima za cilj da pomogne deci da oforme životni „JA MOGU” stav, da razvijaju društveno angažovani i preduzetnički duh i da se upoznaju sa ciljevima održivog razvoja.

Children are given the opportunity to find, choose and solve specific problems in their environment by using innovative methodology. The process has been proven to develop the skills of the 21st century in children (empathy, leadership, teamwork, communication, solving problems, entrepreneurship, critical thinking, media literacy).

DFC's main focus is understanding the problems from the perspective of all those involved and affected by the situation. Children then imagine, create and implement solutions, taking into account their conclusions about the needs of those affected by the problem.

It is a privilege to be a member of the DFC family, primarily because it is an educational programme aimed at children and their development of knowledge and skills needed in the 21st century. The greatest value of this programme is that it encourages every child to develop their potential and say ‘I can’. My students have become movers of changes in their local community, they have become its SUPERHEROES, and superheroes are not only in fairy tales, but in every child who says ‘I can do anything!’ – says edu-hero Biljana Popović, the teacher who has been chosen as one of the top ten educators this year.

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