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UNICEF grants Formentera seal of 'Child-friendly City'

consell joventut2The reward at the end of a long road, Formentera has at last received the recognition of UNICEF's Child-friend City programme (CFC), an initiative whose objective it is to promote local application of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and at the same time support the joint efforts of the different municipalities that boast the distinction.

The decision to bestow the island with the UNICEF programme's quality seal came after a round of assessment -which takes place only once every two years- determined Formentera to be eligible. An evaluation committee traveled to the island in September in order to establish whether the projects overseen by the Council met with the programme's criteria.

Among other factors, the committee took into account the active inclusion of children in the political process, the routine creation of local youth plans, and the promotion of policies that benefit children. The UNICEF seal will be awarded 7 November in a ceremony to take place in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The distinction is a nod for all of the work that the Formentera Council has conducted in support of children and adolescents. In 2012, the Comité Balear of UNICEF provided the Formentera Office of Youth Services with an acknowledgement of good practises as part of the fourth annual call to recognise promotion of rights of the child and effective local policy. The evaluation applauded local efforts to promote equality, the work of Formentera's youth council, and the efforts of the “Es Molí” Social Centre.

The decision to grant this most-recent accolade was announced 17 October, when the Formentera Council learned it would join the councils of Eivissa, Maó and Santanyí on the list of Balearic municipalities to receive the honour in 2014. A total of 119 municipalities in Spain have been awarded the 'Child-friendly City' distinction.

The jury that grants the title is formed by the Spanish chapter of UNICEF, the Spanish Department of Health, Social Services and Equality, the Federation of Spanish Municipalities and Provinces and the University Institute of Needs and Rights of Children and Adolescents.  

“A source of great motivation to continue in the struggle for youth rights”

Formentera's councillor of social welfare and youth services, Dolores Fernández Tamargo, hailed the distinction as “a source of great motivation to continue in the struggle for youth rights, not to mention proof of the work done by the adult population of Formentera to support its children and adolescents, the future of this island.”

According to Councillor Fernández, “not only does the UNICEF jury's ruling applaud the creation of the local youth council, it also acknowledges a host of other projects presented as part of the Formentera Council's bid, including both past efforts and projects that are envisioned for the 2014-2018 period.”

Councillor Fernández thanked the workers of local social services and educational institutions, and in particular acknowledged the important work being done by Formentera's primary schools and secondary school, before also recognising “the task of my colleagues in the public administration who have been so invested in the project.”

Registration for Escola d'Estiu summer school from 12 to 19 June

jovesempresaris webbonaThe Formentera Island Council will open registration for the island's summer school programme – dubbed l'Escola d'Estiu – next Thursday, 12 June. The sign-up period will last one week, coming to a close the following Thursday, 19 June. The formality must be completed at the Citizen Information Office (OAC).

L'Escola d'Estiu is an initiative consisting of fun and educational activities for boys and girls aged 3 to 12 (born between 2002 and 2010). The weekly programme is held Monday through Friday at three different local schools: Col·legi Mestre Lluís Andre (Sant Francesc), Col·legi de Sant Ferran i Col·legi El Pilar a La Mola.

Daily activities begin at 9 am and finish at 2 pm, with the possibility of an 8 am early start. The Formentera Council employs 22 individuals to work as counselors for the programme.

The summer school starts 1 July and extends through 29 August. Cost is 140€/month or 220€ for the two months for families with a valid empadronament (certificate of inclusion on the town registry). Families not registered must pay 210€ (one month) or 305€ (two months). Special discounts are available for families of two or more siblings.

 

Formentera Summer School creates solution for working families

escolaestiu2013 web2For yet another year, the months of July and August ushered in the Formentera Summer School, a programme of recreational activities for boys and girls from ages 3 to 12 years old. Proof of the initiative's success – the summer school programme permits parents to negotiate professional obligations with family life during the two central summer months – this year's summer school counted a total of 182 participants.

The goal of the Formentera Summer School is serve as a socio-educational resource during the summer months, and one that promotes viable, productive alternatives for leisure activities. One of the programme's many smaller scale objectives is to foster the creative development of its participants, in this way giving children the possibility to acquire an important knowledge base through play. In this same way participating children also learn values like solidarity, friendship, responsibility, trust and respect.

Summer school activities were held at Col·legi Públic Mestre Lluís Andreu, Col·legi de Sant Ferran and also Col·legi Públic del Pilar de la Mola, serving all three of the island's public primary schools.

Programming was held Monday through Friday from 9 am to 2 pm, starting 1 July and extending through 30 August, and including the option of early morning start (8 am) at all three centres.

This year's programming carried the title, “SOM ARTISTES!!” (We're artists!!), and built a knowledge base around imagination and creativity, a starting-off point for various themes, which later included games, songs, arts and crafts activities, dance, gymkhanas and theatre.

Children had the opportunity to take part in outings to the municipal swimming pool, trips to different beaches, visits to different exhibitions, bike trips, a visit by island firefighters, and a get-together organised between all three centres and held at the Col·legi del Pilar de la Mola, where students took part in games, sports and other organised activities.

On 30 August the 2013 Formentera Summer School programme came to an official close with a gala held at the Cultural Hall (cinema), each group presenting a performance in which the dances, songs and other summertime activities could be put on display.

The summer school's directive team was made up of one recreational activity director, twenty counsellors, two counsellor assistants and one counsellor certified in special education.

Thanks to the day counsellor training courses offered over the course of the last several winters, the majority of counsellors this summer were also residents of Formentera. These training courses have been an important factor in maintaining high numbers of resident counsellors in past editions of the summer school. This is especially positive considering both stability it gives the project and the professional development opportunities it provides for Formentera youth in summer, affording an alternative to tourism sector-based employment.

Summer School 2013

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The councilor of Social Welfare, Youth and Equality of the Formentera Island Council, Dolores Fernández, presented today via press conference the opening of registration for the Formentera Summer School programme. The programme is a socioeducational resource that exists during summer months to provide children between 3 and 12 with a wide array of recreational activities.

A total of 200 spaces are available and activities will be held at the Mestre Lluís Andreu (Sant Francesc), Sant Ferran and El Pilar de la Mola public primary schools. During the months of July and August, alternatives for free-time activities will be offered to those children who participate, all with the goal of fostering creative development and imagination.

This time around the Summer School's guiding theme will be “Som artistes” (“We're artists”), the objective being to focus on arts and crafts, music, dance, etc. using the summer's activities as a starting-off point.

The different activities will include arts and crafts workshops (to stimulate imagination, creativity, psychomotricity, etc.); workshops – like gymkhanas – to promote physical fitness; game workshops (both traditional and from all over the world, outdoor, water games, etc.); music workshops (dances, songs, instrument building, etc.); theatre and physical expression workshops (in preparation for different end-of-the-month festivals); storytelling workshop; trips to the beach and other field trips.

These activities give children the possibility of an extremely diversified education through games and physical activity, not to mention imparting values like solidarity, friendship, responsibility, trust and mutual respect.

Like in years past, the school's objective is to offer an educational and recreational space for children during the summer months, to foment different educational leisure activities and assist in the solution of work-family conflicts (bearing in mind that the summer season is the period of time when employment is highest and children are not in school).

The Summer School activities programme will extend from 1 July to 30 August from 9 am to 2 pm Monday through Friday, with the option of 8 am start-time. Swimming will also be possible as a complementary activity.

The professional staff will include 22 day counsellors, 1 director and 1 certified Special Education staff member to tend to children with special learning needs.

It is important to remember that the Summer School, although a recreational activity, is still educational, and as such full importance is given to the use of games as learning tools. Games form an integral part of the culture in which children live, fundamental to the physical, intellectual and social growth of a child.

Finally, we remind readers that registration will be open starting today, 12 June, and will continue through 19 June, in the Citizen's Information Office (OAC) of the Formentera Island Council.

Promoting healthy alternatives for Formentera nightlife

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The Formentera Council, as member of Balearic Islands Nightlife Platform and as the organisational body responsible for the prevention of addictive behaviour and the promotion of its healthy alternatives, has promoted the implementation of a series of directives aimed at the commissions charged with local holiday organisation, the goal being to avoid the problems associated with recreational nightlife from the medical, community and safety standpoints.

The initiative is a response to the large number of popular celebrations organised in Formentera, especially in summer, including concerts and parties that imply the sale of alcoholic beverages.

Bars constitute a space which is central in these popular celebrations, not only with regard to fundraising but also with respect to attracting people from the public. In volunteer efforts, neighbours participate in the organisation of different events and take charge of all necessary elements of the festivities. This in turn impacts the functioning of the bars during such events, which, not based on formal professional activity, tend to undergo a loosening of limits with regard to minors of age, operating hours and consumption of alcohol.

The celebration of these traditional festivities and holidays brings – as an intrinsic effect – a massive affluence of visitors and residents, influencing the general tone of the parties (the consumption of alcohol and the disinhibition of eventgoers, in detriment to the cultural and historical backdrop of the events) and affecting an inherent increase in vehicle traffic and in the consumption of other substances.

Add this to the conclusions drawn from a study conducted by the prevention team of the Projecte Jove Balears (Balearic Youth Project) in April 2011 on the consumption of alcohol and other substances by the resident population in general and minors in particular. The study concluded that occasional alcohol consumption among youth in Formentera is higher than in the rest of the Balearic Islands.
 
A heightened consumption among youth of Formentera
According to a study carried out in 2011, on Formentera the consumption of alcohol at some point in time between the ages of 14 and 18 is 90%, a figure higher than both national and Balearic totals. Seventy-nine point four percent of 14 year olds have consumed alcohol at some point in their life and this figure, by 16, grows to 94.4%.

Among teenagers ages 14 and 15, more than half had consumed alcohol within the thirty previous days (52.8%), while 30% of youth between 16 and 18 consume alcohol exclusively at the weekend.

At this age (16 to 18 years old), weekly alcohol consumption (three or more days) reaches 22.6%, clearly higher than the national average (15.6%).

In Formentera, drug consumption begins at earlier agers (14.6) than the rest of Spain (15.2) and the Balearic community (15).

For these reasons, the local administration is recommending the adoption of a series of directives regarding authorisation permits for the sale of alcohol such bars. The objective is to make explicit the prohibition of alcoholic beverages to minors and to those individuals demonstrating symptoms of abuse, reinforcing this with signed commitments by bar representatives, all those in collaboration and all volunteers that serve alcohol as well.

In consonance with these objectives, and through the proposal of viable alternatives, the Council wishes to favour the raising of funds not dependent on the sale of alcohol. Likewise, it intends to inform residents of the risks associated with the consumption of alcohol and other drugs and of healthy activity, using informational stands to this end.

Nightlife Platform
The Council of Formentera is one of the institutions forming the Nightlife Platform, founded in 2011 by the Balearic Government's Department of Health, Family and Social Well-Being, across the General Direction of Health and Consumption and the Balearic Islands Addiction and Dependency Plan (PADIB), with the support of IREFREA (European Institute of Preventative Studies) as the scientific and technical secretary.

The platform considers its first goal “the elaboration of an analytical document, with the consensus of the industry, public administrations and organisations based in civic society, which allows a treatment of problems related to recreational nightlife activity from health, community and safety – and quality and image – perspectives”. This consensus consisted in commitments by all involved sectors.

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