Child Citizens of Vargem Grande Paulista
Are children able to set an example for adults and draw them to be actively involved citizens in projects that attract the attention of institutions?
This is what happened in Vargem Grande Paulista, a city in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Some children from the Focolare Movement, the Gen 4, have been the main protagonists of a path of civil responsibility and attention to others, to the most vulnerable, and to the natural environment.
Their projects were part of the Focolare’s global Child Citizens Project and included the United World Project’s #DareToCare campaign. The goal of Child Citizens is to train children in concrete experiences of active participation in the life and needs of the community, and to disseminate practices that place the child not only in the position of passive particpant who receives an education from adults, but also allows the child to be an active participant who can offer innovative ideas and concrete projects that present new ways of perceiving and living in cities.
These were the ideas that prompted the Gen4 children from Vargem Grande Paulista to collaborate with the Brazil Without Cracks NGO, an organization that collects milk and juice cartons can be used to cover the cracks and insulate the walls of houses while acting against climate change and insect infestations in people’s homes. The cartons are also recycled and used to make thermal blankets for the homeless.
During that time, two of the children, Vitor Tamburu and Theo Zinn, learned that there was a girl with cerebral palsy living in a nearby town who was in need of a special medical treatment. To meet the costs, a competition was launched to collect 52 tons of plastic lids, and bottles. The commitment of Vitor and Theo, together with their ability to involve so many people including adults in the project, impressed the Lixo Zero Brasil Institute (Zero Garbage Institute), which chose them for a very renowned award, which is given to people who make a difference and inspire others in the ecological journey towards Zero Waste.
The same Gen 4 also took part in an activity promoted by the local Focolare Community, distributing seedlings to help in the promotion of a lifestyle care for the environment. One of the children named Filipe told a schoolmate about the project, who in turn talked about it in the family. The enthusiastic mother decided to make a contribution. Being a passionate gardening enthusiast with the hobby of making seeds germinate and giving away the seedlings, she donated more than 200 seedlings that are still in great demand! After this first step, she then began to promote the collection of empty plastic bottles among family and neighbors. She cleaned and filled the bottles with drinking water and gave them to the homeless and the poor.
Parents, neighbors, public institutioins and whole communities were drawn into action because of the genuine enthusiasm of the children! The children were the ones who inspired adults and institutions to move towards new ways of doing things, new ideas and greater awareness, not only ecologically, but also socially for a more united city which has the courage to take care of others, the most vulnerable, and a world in need of fresh oxygen.
The children of Vargem Grande Paulista, together with many others in the world who adhere to the Child Citizen Project, have shown that there is no age difference when it comes to making one’s own contribution and that everyone is important in making a difference, through continuous giving and receiving that can transform our cities and make them more child-friendly!