Valga forest game for young people to be rolled out to the massesPublished: 07.01.2016

The idea of Valga Basic School to organise a competitive forest game has received funding. If everything goes according to plan, young people in schools across Estonia will be able to participate in the game in the jubilee year of the country.

Maria Sikk.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of our homeland, a nationwide application round for children and young people was launched in order to find new and interesting activities related to movement and nature. Funding was allocated to 15 ideas, and from Valga County only Valga Basic School received support.

“The total number of applications was pleasing to see, and there were very diverse and exciting ideas submitted. In the selection process, the committee particularly assessed the estimated intensity and durability of the impact on developing the exercise habits of children and young people or providing nature-related experiences and knowledge,” said Anneli Ohvril, Head of the Committee and Marketing and Communications Manager of Estonia 100.

According to Ms Ohvril, the ambition of the project to become a nationwide undertaking was also taken into consideration. “The plan of involving cooperation partners and the novelty of the idea were also important.”

The idea of Valga Basic School is called “Noor ellujääja” (“Young Survivor”). According to the school’s development and youth work manager Maria Sikk, this is her own personal idea which came about almost 15 years ago when she was an 8th grade student in the basic school.

“I had plans to organise such a competitive game in nature among friends. The name of the activity and initial rules are also from that time. I even designed a logo and a flag and an introductory video was made. However, at one point I understood that more organisers and resources are needed for delivery,” said Sikk.

The idea stuck around and matured in the youth work manager’s mind until now and when the application round for ideas was announced, the moment seemed to be just right. The core of this undertaking is to organise a nationwide competitive nature-related and nature-friendly game that promotes exercise habits, and involves young people aged 14-18 years living for 2 weeks in the forest.
The participants will be chosen from each Estonian county through a nationwide game and the top participant will be sent to represent his/her particular county.

“It will involve teams of five members at first and individually later. In the end, three finalists will remain and the overall winner will be selected from them,” Sikk explained.
The games will be preceded by training for the target group of the programme. This will be filmed and shown across Estonia. During the two weeks in the forest, the participants will get to know nature, take part in movement games and put the knowledge they have acquired to use in nature. For example, the participants will learn about native tree species in Estonia and have to recognise those trees later on in a movement game.

The intention is to develop the undertaking into an annual educational game where topics related to nature and movement are in focus. To date, the basic school has received 2,180 euros for development under which the format, rules and the study programme have to be thought through and determined. “It is possible to apply from the jubilee programme of Estonia 100 for the actual operation of the game,” said Sikk.

This year, the idea will be developed and tested. “In 2017, we will implement the idea of the game and the training programme in schools, carry out a pilot game in Valga County and prepare the final competition,” stated Sikk. The final competition will take place in 2018.

According to the youth work manager, Valga Basic School has extensive experience in implementing projects such as the Environmental Investment Centre’s study excursions, the air pollution control of the environmental education program GLOBE, basic swimming lessons, Jänku Juss SmartLab of Look@World Foundation and the camps of a training called “Protect yourself and help others” (KEAT).

The granting of supports was decided by a committee, which, in addition to Anneli Ohvril, composed of Aivo Normak, Communications Manager of the Estonian Olympic Committee; Helen Luks, Chief Specialist of Nature Education at the State Forest Management Centre (RMK); Marje Jurtšenko, Editor-in-Chief of ETV2; Toomas Kukk, Editor-in-Chief of the magazine Eesti Loodus; Madis Pettai, Secretary-General of the Estonian School Sport Union; Helen Arusoo, Editor-in-Chief of the magazine Loodusesõber; Edgar Schlümmer, Director of the Estonian Youth Work Centre and Jaanus Rohumaa, Head of the Organising Committee of Estonia 100.

87 applications were submitted to the competition. 15 project developments received support in the total amount of 50,000 euros. The support amount for developing a single project was 2,000 to 5,000 euros.

2018 will mark the passing of one hundred years since the establishment of the Republic of Estonia. Celebrations to mark the centenary will take place from April 2017 to February 2020 and the projects are to be implemented during that period.

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