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Enhancing participation - an award winning method

Gutsy Go method is a tool for schools and cities to enhance participation, trust and confidence, and wellbeing within the society. The method was awarded with first price in Finland’s largest innovation challenge for solutions to help build a better future for young people.

It gives the youth tools for building peace within their own cities. While working together to help others young people strengthen their own wellbeing and self esteem.

Gutsy Go starts off by shaking up one school week. The intervention challenges all 14-year-olds to create solutions to problems in their own city. The youth are guided by their own teachers who have been trained as Gutsy Go coaches. In collaboration with youth workers, legal officials, and community leaders students design and implement unique solutions to promote solidarity and “social peace,” thus preventing polarization and tensions within their own communities. The week results in dozens of positive actions benefiting the entire community.

The solutions are filmed and shared at local premieres, on social media, and across traditional news outlets. Dozens of videos capturing unique solutions promoting societal peace and wellbeing reach hundreds of thousands of people nationwide and beyond. The videos can be found on our Gutsy Flix mediabank and they can be used as inspiration to carry on with the work in schools throughout the year.

Our vision: An experience of peacemaking for every youth

There are more than 190 countries in the world. More than 90% of them train their youth into soldiers. No country systematically trains their new generations into peacemakers. What if they did? What would our world be like?

Gutsy Go was developed to answer one of the most pressing questions of our time: how can we prevent the social marginalisation of young people and societal polarisation? Gutsy Go doesn’t start with statistics of ill-being in young people, but with their strengths and wholly different statistics. According to the latter statistics, 84% of young people in Europe consider it to be their mission to change the world for the better (European millennial survey), and 80% want to help others but cannot find the ways to do so (Family Federation of Finland survey, 2020).

Gutsy Go is based on a finding familiar from previous research: Working for the good of others improves one’s own wellbeing.

In their projects, these youths have, for example, IT skills to inmates near the end of their sentences, created a service concept for people suffering with memory disorders, built peace between neighbours and created a anti-bullying campaign, which was implemented nationwide. Already more than 5,000 Finnish and Estonian youths have participated. Together they have come up with more than 500 different videoed solutions to issues in their communities. In their projects, the youths come face to face with dozens of different people in their communities, bring these people together, and build ties and trust between different demographics.

It’s time to expand our concept of peace. It’s not just a political state or international contracts negotiated at high cost – it can also be solving everyday issues in a way that contributes to positive interaction between people. Young people have courage to try novel things, a strong sense of justice, and plenty of hope. These are strengths that deserve to be brought forward and harnessed for the good of all society.

A new experience of peace is forming. An experience that can give any one of us the spark to do good.

Let’s make peace visible.

Impact: “I have a purpose”

Gutsy Go gives a tangible experience of participation. The impact is measured in collaboration with Finnish Medical Society Duodecim and Finnish Youth Research Society.

Current statistics indicate that the number of youth that are cynical doubles in the years after the 8th grade. Their life expectancy is about 15 years lower regardless of education. Duodecim has noted the impact Gutsy Go has on young people’s increase of optimism and decrease in cynicism.

“Our interest in being part of Gutsy Go reflects the prospect of guiding the lives of thousands of people in the right direction through their own actions. The intervention helps young people realise the good in themselves, their ability to achieve positive outcomes, and personal strengths that even their classmates respect and admire.”

Dr Pekka Mustonen, CEO of Duodecim Medical Publications Ltd.

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Source: Finnish Youth Research Society

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