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Monday, 22 april 2024
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Space for Social and Cultural Initiatives Association

Space for Social and Cultural Initiatives Association (orig. Stowarzyszenie Przestrzeń Inicjatyw Społeczno Kulturalnych – PISK) was founded in 2010. The main purpose of its activities is to strengthen social and civic competences of young people as well as to undertake various tasks connecting generations. The association dedicates its activity to people living in the Świętokrzyskie voivodeship, Ostrowiec county, and especially to residents of Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski. The founders of the association are mostly people connected with Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski since birth. Here they grew up, learned, gained education and then professional experience.  It is not surprising that they decided to “give back” to this city what they once “received” from it. Twelve years ago, as a team, with clearly defined goals, full of enthusiasm, they undertook various actions to realize the set tasks. Their goals used to be only dreams, and the establishment of the Association gave them space to make them come true. They decided to work with and for the benefit of young people in order to prove that it is worthwhile to live, study, gain education and work here in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski, and to pass on their experiences to the next generation of successors. Among those who decided to become active in the Association were and still are alumni of the EGO Association (it was founded and led by a well-known psychologist, Ms. Elżbieta Sołtys), enthusiasts inspired at a young age by scouting and many other social activists, dedicated to the idea of serving others. Under the first project: "Obywatelski Ostrowiec, Usłyszmy Głos Młodych Ludzi” (Eng. Civic Ostrowiec, Let's hear the voice of young people) realized from grant of the Operational Programme (Civil Initiatives Fund) in cooperation with the International Congress Center

in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski, the PISK Association invited young people from all high schools in Ostrowiec to take part in Oxford-style debates. The aim of the project was to shape the knowledge and skills that allow for conscious and active participation in social and public life. The event was widely discussed throughout the city and the county. Young people opened up and trusted us, seeing in this involvement a chance for their voice to be finally heard, and for the social problems they are interested in, such as: safety, education, career prospects, to find a platform for discussion. This activity has inspired many high school students to take action, act on behalf of the local environment, teaching them argumentation skills, creative and critical thinking, and a sense of joint responsibility for the solutions adopted. The best "debate speakers" were then engaged in subsequent projects, they primarily assisted teachers in the democratization processes at their schools.

The undeniable value of the project was the opportunity to show the city and county authorities that the Oxford-type debate is part of public life education and that debating is a useful method of working with students. It allows us to prove that we are, we act, we have our plans and dreams, and if so, we need to be asked for our opinion on many issues of social policy, culture, education. The project was topped off with a report on the activities of young people in the city. As it turned out, the report's conclusions were so credible and interesting that their usefulness was recognized by others, who used their data to design their own projects. Encouraged by this success, they reached for further funding, as part of Measure 7.3 Operational Programme Human Capital (PO KL) "Integration with Tradition",

and the project was carried out in the small village of Sudół, involving the local community, at the same time integrating people across generations to design and produce a folder

about their village. The beneficiaries eagerly got down to business. They wrote down the oldest stories, collected photographs and other memorabilia, which resulted in creating a folder and preparing an interesting historical exhibition. The final product exceeded our expectations and the residents were happy to document the history of their small homeland.

From November 2011 to June 2013, in partnership with the Poviat Starosty and the School Complex in Bałtów, under Measure 9.2 of the Operational Programme Human Capital (PO KL), the Association implemented the project “Bałtów nie zaścianek wzorem szkół się stanie” (Eng. Bałtów is not a backwater – let’s make it a model for schools), which enabled the implementation of vocational courses and additional classes for young people preparing for secondary school and vocational exams confirming qualifications. In addition, the Association members undertaken other smaller initiatives, such as partnership in a project to activate senior citizens. A very valuable experience of the Association was the implementation of the project called Młodzieżowa Akademia Lidera (Eng. Youth Leadership Academy). In 2013, in partnership with the EGO Association, we implemented another project “Nigdy nie jest za późno Seniorem być” (Eng. It's never too late to be a senior). This time we dedicated our activities to people over 60, encouraging them to various forms of social activity. Since then until today, seniors have been a very important recipient of the Association's activities. The year 2015 was a landmark year for Association members. The local community of Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski asked to take over and run the elementary school. Under the pressure of the environment, encouraged by parents and friends of the Primary School No. 11 in liquidation, they decided to take matters into their own hands. They were guided by the idea of passion for education, inspired by Elżbieta Sołtys, our most important mentor. A 6-month work from scratch, in which they overcame formal-legal as well as financial barriers and human powerlessness, brought the result. Szkoła z Pasją (Eng. School with Passion) was created, which they named after Elżbieta Sołtys. In 2022, it will be 7 years that the Association runs Niepubliczny Zespół Edukacyjno- Przedszkolny Szkoła z Pasją im. Elżbiety Sołtys (Eng. Elżbieta Sołtys Private Educational and Pre-School Complex “School with Passion”) in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski, consisting of a non-public kindergarten and a non-public primary school.

In the meantime, involving our social partners, students, friends and donors, the Association organized in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski Gala Wolontariatu (Eng. Volunteer Gala) – 2 editions, Kalejdoskop (Eng. Kaleidoscope) – a review of youth initiatives, Eksplozja Kolorów (Eng. Explosion of Colors) – 2 editions. A publication about the history and tradition of this place was created in cooperation with the residents of the Kamienna housing estate.

While already running the school, the Association has implemented several educational projects. Among them, in 2016, “Starszy brat, starsza siostra” (Eng. Big Brother, Big Sister), which we addressed to elementary school students to develop empathy, cooperation skills and relationships among students. In addition, several projects aimed at shaping the key competencies of students and teachers were implemented.

A major success of the Association was the creation in 2017 of the Local Knowledge and Education Center (LOWE), at the time one of two of this type in the Świętokrzyskie voivodeship. The goal of the center was to guarantee a space for adults to facilitate their development and upgrade their skills. Implementation of the project in the first edition proved to be the proverbial “bull's eye”. They gathered good reviews, which was proved by the fact that the Association was invited as a partner to the second edition of creating “LOWE” in other places in Poland. In the same year, we implemented a project aimed at preschool children. The final result of its implementation was the creation of 11 additional kindergarten places and offering additional classes with a speech therapist, psychologist, social skills trainer and vocational counselor. In 2018, in turn, they launched a project for teachers, elementary and middle school students to increase ICT competencies. Beginning in 2019, in partnership with Towarzystwo Inicjatyw Twórczych “ę” (Eng. Society for Creative Initiatives), they implemented the pilot mentoring project “TANDEM”. They were the only school in Poland and one of only two NGOs to test 1:1 intergenerational mentoring. The implementation of this project resulted in a wonderful intergenerational collaboration and the school gaining friends for years to come. Such vast experience, but above all great passion for working with young people and dreams of establishing a Youth City Council led the Space for Social and Cultural Initiatives Association to the honorable role of a partner in the project titled: “Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski – miasta OdNowa” (Eng. Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski – City ReNEWal), co-financed by the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism 2014-2021 and the state budget.

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