Whereas August is the month, always related to summer vacations and fun time, for adults and children to take a break from their everyday activities of the year, there are still international days that are worth to be honoured. The UNPLUGGED project, focusing on developing 21st-century skills in the youngest representatives of the society, children from 6 to 12 years old, adheres to the goals of the United Nations and is happy to celebrate the International Youth Day every 12 August.
12 August: how is it celebrated?
The idea about the International Youth Day is born in 1991 when young people from all over the world were summoned to the first session of the World Youth Forum, organized by the United Nations System. Its initial purpose was fundraising and promoting the United Nations Youth Fund.
The International Youth Day is commemorated on 12 August. Since 1991 on this day, the UN and the citizens acknowledge the power of young people and contemplate their active participation in building a modern world in versatile domains of life. Discussions emphasizing different topics of youth inclusion in social construction, cultural and legal issues surrounding young people are held to raise awareness and co-decide possible solutions. Participation, development and peace are leading challenges that are to be tackled by international policy on youth.
Transforming Food Systems
The discussion topic of the International Youth Day in 2021 was “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health”. It concluded that this ambitious objective could not be achieved without the meaningful participation of young people. The need for youth to make informed decisions over their food choices has been highlighted. Formal and non-formal education in food production and consumption from early ages could contribute to healthier and more sustainable food consumption both at the individual and environmental levels. Among the forthcoming priorities which the young participants underlined is the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of human health, the environment, and the food systems.
Once again, education, engagement, innovation and enhancing entrepreneurial spirit are recognized as essential directions towards youth empowerment, particularly in sustainable food systems. In a nutshell, project creators are aspired to create a game that contains a set of quests for children between 6 and 12 years old to learn and explore different topics, supporting the Social Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. To raise interest, an inquiry-based pedagogical approach is being developed. It will serve both educators and parents to apply in distant or home learning. Do-It-Yourself sets and methodologies are being developed to equip users with everything necessary to educate and create on their own.
How does the UNPLUGGED project contribute to these challenges?
Education, being recognized as a topmost priority to empowering young people to take actions towards their future, needs to be adapted to learners’ educational habits to be effective and long-lasting. In this context, the UNPLUGGED project wishes to provide tools tailored for the teachers to support the development of active and meaningful teaching practices, i.e., how young children can understand better a larger societal issue in a playful way. Promoting students’ active position enables them to feel they are impacting and mastering both the content of their learning. Being involved actively in the creation, handling and use of the experimental tools will stimulate their motivation even more.
Concretely, the UNPLUGGED project aims to release a board game of quests dedicated to understanding the societal challenges of the 21st-century and to the development of critical thinking for children in primary school. In the field of "Transforming Food Systems" specifically, several games ideas are nowadays under development and guidelines for implementing these playful activities are already available hereunder:
Feel free to participate in this co-construction process of new games and ideas by using our game development template here.
What are the 21-century ‘must’ skills for young people to be wholesome individuals?
The 21st century brings new challenges to the world. Respectively, new skills are indispensable for individuals to be fulfilling members of society. Along with merely knowing facts, children need to be able to interpret information. Education is undergoing changes towards transferring knowledge where learners can use and process it. Competencies such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, cultural and gender awareness, digital literacy need to be developed in parallel to other disciplines. In addition, the current COVID-19 crisis has accentuated the inequalities between students in terms of the necessary but complex hybridization of the learning modalities regarding, for instance, access to educational materials and to digital resources. Today, impacted by both sanitary and distance learning issues, experimental activities are heavily affected, yet they remain crucial for understanding scientific processes.
Going further - The UNPLUGGED universe
Following design thinking consortium working sessions, partners have decided on the game construction. To provide a holistic, logical, and understandable learning route, the game is presented as a Universe. The Universe comprises 4 planets, each of them providing quests to provoke learning and contemplation about a hot topic. Feel free to download the PDFs for being able to navigate the planets and discover our games ideas.
Planet 1 is The Peaceful Island. It will reflect on children’s own vision of citizenship, comprising quests about poverty, equality, peace.
Planet 2 is named The Strong Community. It paves the path to considering how to sustain communities for living together in peaceful and balanced societies. The topics that it covers range from sustainable food, smart cities, building communities, etc.
Planet 3 is called The Crazy Bayou. It will support young learners in understanding the precious balance of living ecosystems. Environment protection, including water, air, etc. lifecycles and challenges from human activity will be touched upon.
Planet 4 is The Fantastic Factory. It will allow for reflecting on new technologies in inclusive societies.