Country, Date of election
Wacław Czakon is helping to shape educational policies for children and young people by empowering them to launch social ventures and then leveraging the positive impacts of those ventures with policymakers.
Families and schools in Poland are not meeting the needs of young people. With the growth of social and economic problems in small towns, including rising unemployment among parents and the decreasing attention parents are able to give their children, there has been an increase in the number of troubled kids, particularly in rural areas and small towns. Without strong mentoring at home, young people face a critical lack of values and low self–esteem. And although schools are overloaded with didactic content, they have limited overall impact.
Since the Happy Childhood Foundation was established a new educational system has been developed: The Youth Academyleading many international programs based on different topics, for instance „From discrimination to tolerance”, „Photoworkshops”, the „Nicolaus Program”. The Foundation cooperates with different countries. Up until now it has undertaken many projects with partnership organizations. Wacław’s franchise guidebook for the Youth Academy contains all necessary agreements with standards for cooperation and methodologies for instructors and teachers and will enable the extension of the program to a wider population of teenagers.
Waclaw challenges at–risk young people to become active, engaged citizens. He creates a social structure through which they become community leaders in introducing positivechanges in local environments. Engaging young people in targeted activities, Waclaw equips youth with self–confidence and job skills. His effort addresses three dimensions of the personality of young people–moral, social, and intellectual. Waclaw engages partners like schools and other institutions in the process of creating better systems of teaching civic responsibility. Utilizing connections with churches, parishes, social movements, and citizen organizations, he has an authentic influence on education policies.
The main aim of the Foundation’s activity is to work with children and youth who have a difficult situation at home, at school and among their peers – this is a preventive activity. It is relevant to prevent such problems as alcoholism among youth as well as crime and drug addiction by preparing young people to be active in their own social environment, to be independent, take initiative and be self–educated. Wacław’sultimate aim is to convince young people that all the social activities they undertake should first benefit the public and then meet personal objectives.
Coming from a strongly supportive family, having a happy childhood, he could not bear to see other children who did not have the same opportunities to grow up surrounded by love and understanding. In the early 1980s Waclaw and a group of other passionate people decided to work with youth from marginalized families. These young people had no discipline, were extremely rebellious and caused serious problems at school. Two years of constant struggle with this group was a major experience that shaped Waclaw’s thinking about the development of young persons and the relationship between them and educators.