Anna Sarkkinen, the project leader and the executive director of JAPA ry, says that expectations for the success of the project were high, but they were clearly exceeded.
“Of course, success can be measured in many ways, but the very concrete end result is the staggering 40 4H companies based on the circular economy that were founded by young people. I am also proud of the fact that young people involved in the project, both here in Central Finland as well as in our companion school in Wales, have told us that they have learned a lot about themselves and the world around them, and understood that they too can have a lot of opportunities to influence the state of the environment, among other things," she says.
The result of the project is the ReWitellen handbook for those working with future circular economists, and a video series that provides inspiration for young people. The handbook is currently being translated into English and webinars will be organised in spring 2021 to support its implementation.
“Young people are genuinely interested and concerned about, for example, the global challenge of climate change, but they often lack the tools and understanding of how challenges and problems can result in opportunities and even solutions through knowledge. Schools and other actors working with young people have a key role to play in guiding and inspiring future circular economy professionals in the right direction. The ReWitellen handbook will help with this,” Sarkkinen promises.
Youth inclusion and co-operation across organisational boundaries
Workshops involving around 300 young people were organised to figure out the methods and themes of the project. Sustainable development and employment stood out from the crowd, and it was natural for the project to be built around these themes. Circular economy club evenings, business courses, coaching, school and company visits, and youth exchanges were held during the project.
"“We at JAPA have been working on sustainable development for 20 years, while the 4H association is in a class of its own as an entrepreneurial educator for young people. Muurame Senior High School has also been an important partner for us, not to mention the great entrepreneurs who have pledged to mentor young people. Co-operation and networking between several actors, both domestically and among international partners, is important, as it enables the implementation of large-scale and impressive projects,”says Sarkkinen.
The project has been funded by Leader JyväsRiihi ry from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. Anna Sarkkinen praises the Leader co-operation and encourages the associations to get acquainted with the possibilities of project funding.
“It is clear that our project would not have been possible without Leader funding. I appreciate the fact that funding is being channelled into projects for young people, because I think they have earned it. Supporting the vitality of rural areas is important, and our project also succeeded in opening the eyes of young people to the fact that, for example, entrepreneurship also opens up new employment opportunities in rural areas. Of course, there are many kinds of bureaucratic intensitiveness associated with the project world, but I myself have always received really expert help from the Leader group," she says.
The name of the project, ReWi Visions, comes from the term Resource Wisdom.
Link to the ReWitellen website: Rewitellen – JAPA ry