Revis - 23rd Frederic Joliot-Curie Secondary School in Sofia
Project "A Friend to Listen" aims at building a positive and friendly environment that will help children develop their empathy and belonging in the school and class atmosphere. The project is initiated by the 9th grade students, who held a series of meetings with the 8th grade students, for which this is their first year in the 23rd Frederic Joliot-Curie Secondary School in Sofia. The initiative is carried out within the framework of REVIS project which is implemented by the Institute of Social Activities and Practices for Bulgaria.
The young people share how their participation in the project gave them the opportunity to get to know each other better and become closer. They define this element as quite important since this is a start of a new academic year in a different school, with previously unknown to them classmates. "We didn't know each other, we felt lonely. We knew that there were people in the school in which we can seek help and support, but we still didn't trust them," says one of the young participants in the project. These negative experiences turn out to be common within a group of students and it became the main reason to ensure that such thing does not happen to the freshmen. With team work, supported by the school's teachers and psychologists, the young people created the "A Friend to Listen" initiative, which includes organizing meeting with the 8th graders in the school. Interactive games and discussions were the main tools of the youngsters who split into two teams to attend classes of their choice. After almost two months of planning and visiting the classes, the children share that they feel more confident to speak and have better and closer relationships. Developing empathy and a positive environment in each class was the beginning of the opportunity for them to discover similarities among themselves, which also helped them to work better as a team. There is also a competitive nature in the initiative. After the meetings held by the teams, a general meeting will take place, in which is going to be announced which of the two classes the students have gotten to know each other better.
Thanks to the "A friend to Listen" initiative, young people are becoming recognizable to their classmates and there have already been several cases in which children have expressed the need to talk individually about topics that bother them, but until now they were not comfortable to trust.
Long term, the idea is that each year the "A Friend to Listen" team will be expanded with new students willing to spend time and develop their skills and knowledge to support their classmates.