"It is particularly interesting to stress the involvement of the children and young people throughout the Get Off the Couch! program, from the emergence of the project idea to its planning, and including the search for backing and, naturally, its implementation".
Deutsche Kinder- undJugendstiftung (DKJS), the German branch of the International Youth Foundation, is active in Germany in improving youth education. In 2001, a regional branch opened its doors in Dresden, Saxony, and one of its programs, Get Off the Couch!, encourages young persons aged 10 to 16 to get involved in the activities of their village, their commune, or their neighborhood, by developing initiatives/projects to enhance their near environment. Examples include the implementation of environmental projects and the creation of youth hostels, whereby they boost their self-confidence and civicmindedness, and open up to new horizons.
Up to 40 projects, all areas combined
The young people are counseled by the partners of DKJS, like local nonprofits and federations, as well as representatives of the communes and the nonprofit's volunteers. Once every year, the young people submit their ideas in cooperation with their partner to a jury made up of young persons and adults, which selects up to 40 projects, all areas combined.
In 2014, 10 projects were concerned with sustainable development, of which the most emblematic are:
- The construction of a solar station in Chemnitz to recharge electric bicycles.
- Revitalizing a village pond (region of Bautzen) by cleaning it up and repopulating it with fish as well as ducks and swans.
- Cultivating foods, vegetables and herbs in a kitchen garden in Leipzig, and then going on to organize cooking workshops.
Besides the fact that DKJS is a recognized professional and effective entity, the Get Off the Couch! program echoes the concerns of the Veolia Foundation, which urges the engagement of its employees in similar projects. The foundation is therefore supporting the implementation of the 10 "sustainable development" projects selected by the nonprofit in 2014.