“I’m proud to live in Akko because of all the different kinds of people who live here. Not every city is like that and that’s what makes us special. Also we have great soccer fields!”
Nehorai, age 10, Tomer Elementary School.
Members of the Akko Educators’ Kibbutz recently launched a pilot project aimed at engaging Akko’s elementary school students on issues that matter to them about life in the city. Even though they are young, our goal is for the students to begin to develop the tools and skills for taking an active role in shaping the future of the home we share.
On March 14th, 80 fourth-graders from four different classes in the Tomer and Weizmann elementary schools learned about the maps of Akko from Crusader times until today. They also learned about some of the features that make 21st century Akko such a special place to live. For most of the students, it was the first time they had talked about what makes their city great, a refreshing change from the often negative discourse about life in Akko.
The day included informal learning sessions, outdoor games and group activities. The program ended with each class discussing how they feel about their city and what changes they would like to see. Noya, a nine-year-old from the Weizmann school, said:
“I learned so many new things today about Akko. My Dad says the only good thing about living here is the hummus but I know that’s not true. I want to live here when I grow up.”
Members of the kibbutz developed the project in partnership with the Akko Municipality and the schools themselves. The project consists of a series of day-long seminars for students at the vast majority of Akko’s public schools. The content and methodology of the seminars vary from grade to grade in line with the needs and capabilities of each age group. All program seminars are based on meeting the students at their level and of course, having fun.
“The reason why we are taking fourth-graders and talking to them about the map of Akko and introducing them to their city in many ways, is that in order to build the next generation of leaders, first you need to help strengthen their sense of identity and belonging to the place they live. Show them that where they live is important and that what they have to say matters. Then you’re on your way towards educating young people who really care and want to make a difference in the city they live in.” Michal Keidar, Akko Educators’ Kibbutz member and project director.
The pilot is currently being rolled out between March and May for fourth and ninth-graders with other grade levels scheduled to be added in the future.