Poland: Peer to peer education for more sustainable food – it’s worth it/it works!

By Anna Dańkowska, The Krzyżowa Foundation for Mutual Understanding in Europe

Climate change and degradation of the environment are topics to which young people are especially sensitive. The global movement Fridays for Future is engaging plenty of youth, who demand better care for our world. It’s hard to deny that young people are becoming more and more concerned about the future of the planet and have a lot to say in issues connected to sustainability and degradation of the environment.

Peer-to-peer education plays an important role in empowering young people and gives them tools to reach out to others as well. Therefore this approach is worth supporting and working on – that is the aim of the project described here.

Imagine a 14-year-old girl standing in front of her peers and leading the discussion on possibilities for how to support local farmers. Imagine her classmate explaining how the food chain is built and leading a game showing where food is wasted at certain stages of this chain.

Such pictures were made possible in Polish schools thanks to the project “Good food from nearby” conducted by the Krzyżowa Foundation for Mutual Understanding in Europe as part of the “Make Europe Sustainable for all” campaign by led by EEB in the last months.

The project’s aim was to raise awareness on sustainable food among youth, showing the food system and especially the role each of us can play in it. It was meant to empower young people, make them feel responsible, courageous and active. Peer-to-peer education turned out to be an appropriate approach to support such attitudes. The project consisted of creating educational materials on sustainable food and conducting workshops with different school groups. On 25 September the Global Day of Action was celebrated with around 100 high-school pupils who discovered the connection between SDGs and our food and learned about the interdependencies among different countries in the world regarding food production and consumption.

The educational materials  A recipe for a better world – we educate our peers about food (Przepis na lepszy świat, czyli edukujemy rówieśników o żywności) were developed with the intention to motivate young people to take initiative, take things in their own hands and act. Becoming educators for their peers, youngsters can show that they are capable of critical thinking and finding ways to endeavor to achieve greater sustainability themselves. They become guides on the food system and explore it together with their peers.

The courageous ones that tried out this role for themselves were pupils of Wrocław Montessori School: Franek, Jagna and Natasza. These 6th and 7th graders have become educators for their peers and led workshops on several topics related to sustainable food. Together they:

– discussed the food system and origin of our food;

– discovered which resources are needed to produce food and the environmental and social costs of that food production;

– learned how and where food is being wasted and how to avoid it;

– cooked in the spirit of a zero waste kitchen, using products that are usually thrown away;

– visited an ecological farm and learned about its work with all of their senses; and

– planned a campaign on sustainable food to implement in their school.

It has been a fascinating process to engage young people in peer-to-peer education and try out this new approach with them. Peer-to-peer education is relatively innovative in a Polish context, so we are happy to contribute our educational materials towards strengthening this approach in Poland.

Educational materials developed in this project are available at: https://www.krzyzowa.org.pl/pl/dzialalnosc/publikacje/wydawnictwa-fundacji-krzyzowa/1599-przepis-na-lepszy-swiat-czyli-edukujemy-rowiesnikow-o-zywnosci-materialy-edukacyjne-dla-mlodziezy-w-wieku-14-16-lat-2 . Currently they are only available in Polish. We will be grateful for any comments. Please send them to: anna.dankowska@krzyzowa.org.pl.

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