Best Youth Volunteer Initiatives in Russia

Volunteering with telecentres is a hands-on training in active citizenship, leadership and character development.

A few days before Get Online Week 2013, which this year focuses on youth, we would like to share how young volunteers in Russia contribute to supporting digitally excluded people in their communties.

Last year most of the Tvoy Kurs centers worked under the motto “Make Way for the Young!” and a significant effort was made to engage youth in all centers activities and to develop youth volunteerism. According to a survey conducted at the end of the year, more than 1,530 volunteers actively participated in the Tvoy Kurs trainings, seminars, consultations, and campaigns.

We have already told you about Teach Your Family campaign aimed at schoolchildren. Another, Youth Volunteer Initiative focused on young people, mostly college and university students, who have proficient IT skills, are creative and often serve as full-time trainers. Surveyed centers (40) reported that over 16,000 digitally excluded citizens were reached and benefited from computer literacy trainings and consultations provided by young volunteers.

The range of volunteers'activities varied greatly: visiting seniors and people with disabilities in their homes to show them basic Internet functions; developing courses for students from boarding schools; organizing field express courses for rural citizens; offering online help in basic computer issues; and organizing branches of Tvoy Kurs centers.

To promote and support best youth projects, we organized a contest for the Best Youth Volunteer Initiative. Each of the presented projects is unique and valuable in its own right and can be implemented in any region of Russia where people have little or no access to digital literacy training. The winners are:

DISCOVER... (VOLGOGRAD)

The project of Volgograd Agrarian University targeted 80 students of Vocational Boarding School (for socially disadvantaged students) of Kalach-on-Don and combined face-to-face and online training.

The whole project included three trips to Kalach-on-Don. During the first visit volunteers presented the Digital Literacy course and basics of Internet and formed mini-tems of students to develop their projects called "Discover... your opportunities, the world of Internet, and sewing (choose your option)". Then vocational school students were distantly trained in Digital Literacy; and during the 2nd visit volunteers explained the unclear parts and ran the certification test. During their thrid visit volunteers taught using Internet for the future profession and organized a project display.  Learn more...

Inclusive E-Environment (Novokuznetsk)

The project was designed for people with disabilities at the Federal Center for Medical and Social Rehabilitation and urged to enable handicapped people gain basic computer skills that would help them in their social rehabilitation and widen their employment opportunities.

Volunteers were students of Novokuznetsk Boarding College who had completed the Tvoy Kurs training of trainers. Those young people have physical disabilities themselves, therefore they well understand most of physical and psychological issues the project participants have.

Young volunteers set up a mobile computer lab with 5 PCs and 5 laptops at the Federal Center and provided 2-hour classes 5 times a week. In addition, they conducted individual lessons with patients who could not walk. As a result of those efforts, 87 people received Digital Literacy certificates.

Ivan Magiyarov, a resident of Mugai Village, Sverdlovsk Region, writes: "I was going through rehabilitation in Novokuznetsk and got happy when i found out about the opportunity to take the Digital Literacy course. I know basics of PC but in spite of that there were several issues that the course helped me get into." Learn more

Digital Literacy for Veterans, Togliatti

In 2012 during the Get Online Week volunteers - students of Togliatti State University organized Skype calls for veterans having preliminary done search for relatives and friends of the veterans in social networks. Since that time the students have been regularly organizing web bridges for veterans at home.

As a result of such introduction to the Internet some veterans started to show interest in computers. This led to showing up new direction of educating veterans at home. The idea of the campaign belongs to the trainer-volunteer Anastasia Erschova, a student of Togliatti University, the winner of the Best Tvoy Kurs Trainer 2011. Volunteers also teach relatives of the veterans who live with them and neighbors of the WWII heroes. During 8 months of the project young people introduced 60 veterans and 42 members of their families and neighbors to digital technologies. .Learn more...

Svetlana Lebedeva, the director of the winning project from Novokuznetsk, has written about the importance of such campaigns for Tvoy Kurs volunteers: “Such projects give our young volunteers an additional incentive for self-development and self-actualization and provide them with hands-on training in active citizenship, leadership, ethical thinking, and character development.”

We are certain that our young volunteers will go on to conquer new heights and together we will see many interesting and important projects and initiatives, which are in such a great demand in Russia’s cities and regions.

Best of luck to our new IT4Youth project and Get Online Week 2013!

That was the last post about Tvoy Kurs program from me, it is time to update my profile; and i hope my (former) colleague Yakov Ostanin will keep you updated on exciting activities in Russia.

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