It’s My Turn (To Speak)! / Agora Falo Eu!
"It’s My Turn!" (to Speak) is a card game that gives children an active role in their community. Children are given cards to answer questions related to activities they like to do, to climate change or simply their neighbourhood. This enables the identification of citizenship issues concerning kids, engages them and the community (schools, families, etc.), and is the starting point to identify and implement local projects based on their civic participation and on that of the community as a whole.
The Secretary of State for Citizenship and Equality challenged LabX, the Public Administration Experimentation Laboratory from the Administrative Modernization Agency (AMA), to conduct research in order to find alternative ways to promote the development of citizenship skills and civic participation among children and the youth.
After listening to teachers and youth coaches, it was clear that there was the need to develop a tool that would allow questioning children about: the topics they consider the most relevant to citizenship and civic participation; the ways they enjoy working (i.e.. teamwork; games; using technology; storyboarding; group discussion; etc.); and who they would like to have involved in the promotion of civic participation in their learning process.
Based on this need and inspired on the Brazilian initiative “Eyes on School” (deolhonosplanos.org.br), LabX created the card game “It’s My Turn” as a tool to collectively interview large groups of children in a way that is easy and fun for them.
The “It’s My Turn” kit comprises a deck of cards with:
• 10 cards with written questions, such as: What do I enjoy doing in school? How can adults listen to children? Etc.;
• 104 cards with pictures, representing themes (e.g. human rights, animal welfare, among others) and activities (e.g. field trips, hanging out with friends, family games, etc);
• 16 Joker cards, that allow the children to add a new activity or theme that is not represented on the game;
• One ballot box;
• Assessment Chart.
Throughout the game, the children are asked to answer the quiz cards with the picture cards provided to them. The questions are intended to gauge children's preferences or concerns regarding the ways they like to work, the kind of activities they like to do for fun, or who they enjoy working and engaging with. There are also blank cards that can be adapted to the specific context of the organization promoting the game.
The game was tried on the field with about 100 children from a wide range of social backgrounds and, considering the feedback gathered and the enthusiastic way the game was received, LabX also developed the potential of the Game as a tool that helps to operationalise the way public projects are implemented. Meaning that, while the Game was initially just a diagnosis tool, its potential has now evolved and it is also being used as a way of defining the model of implementation of the projects by using the children's inputs.
With that in mind, LabX began to use the game as the starting point in a diagnostic process that would then evolve to the submission of project proposals based on the results of the game. Afterwards, the children vote on the submitted proposals, simulating an electoral act and culminating in the implementation of the selected projects.
The main goal of this innovation is to raise children's awareness, from an early age (7 to 14 years old), regarding the importance of civic participation in order to spur their active engagement and, at the same time, promote the implementation of small projects in their communities.
After the experimentation period, LabX developed the kits of the game that were distributed across schools and welfare associations thanks to a cross-sector partnership between the Directorate-General for Education, the Secretary of State for Citizenship and Equality and the Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth. Such cross-sector partnership, along with the collaboration of schools and associations, was a fundamental driver of the success of the project.
Following the delivery of the game, LabX also sends a feedback form that allows to track the resulting initiatives and to understand their impact in the “real world”. Regarding the 400 kits that were already delivered, it is important to highlight that they already resulted in the feedback from 21 initiatives engaging nearly 500 kids and in the implementation of several local projects (see below).
The impact assessment coming from that feedback provided by the initiatives using the Game proved the relevance of “It’s My Turn”, building the case for its replication by the LabX network of cross-sector partnerships.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
This innovation is unique because it allows children to participate in the definition of their civic concerns and how that is going to happen in real projects, in the context of project-based learning.
Besides promoting their participation through a card game, the whole process (the game, the voting phase and the implementation of projects) allows kids to be more engaged with participatory processes, both in and outside the classrooms, and to understand, since an early age, the importance of civic participation.
Besides, by mobilizing the children, there’s an automatic engagement from the rest of the community, namely the parents and the local institutions that are by extension more motivated to participate in the project activities.
What is the current status of your innovation?
The project is now in the implementation phase, distributing the games and making the innovation happen. There were already 400 kits sent to schools and associations that are now applying them, and there are several schools and associations requesting the Game.
Since the kit is being distributed free of charges for the schools and associations, LabX also sends a feedback form that enables the evaluation of the implementation process and the impact of the projects in the “real world”, as well as to gather additional insights for a new version to be developed in the future.
Collaborations & Partnerships
Citizens, especially children, are the main target group, but by engaging them, it also ends up engaging the rest of the community, namely the parents and the teachers. Also, the projects that result from the Game are implemented by the local community that benefits from it.
The partnerships with public entities and civil society organizations that, in the end, used their own networks to scale both the experimentation and the implementation phases, were also a plus in the project.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
• Children now have a voice on what and how to participate, both in and outside the classrooms
• Schools and civil society associations can identify significant themes for the children and strengthen the engagement of the community
• Teachers and technicians learn to use methodologies that promote creative and “out-of-the-box” thinking
• Public entities are breaking silos and collaborating with each other
• Families and Communities are participating in the learning process of their children
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
The project is now in the middle of the implementation phase, so its assessment is still incomplete, particularly regarding its impact evaluation in the long term.
So far LabX has delivered nearly 400 kits of the game. From these 400 kits, there's already feedback from 21 initiatives. Considering these 21 initiatives, there were 120 game sessions involving around 500 children and resulting in the implementation of, at least, 12 local projects that engaged the local community.
At the moment, the results and impact are being measured through the feedback forms filled by the local teams in schools or associations. The form is usually accompanied by photos or other evidence of the implementation process.
In the future, LabX is working to improve the rate of responses to these feedback forms, promoting a more direct approach with our partners’ networks.
Challenges and Failures
One of the main challenges was the activation of the existing networks and partnerships, as well as breaking traditional schemes. In order to identify and engage with all the entities (e.g. schools, associations, public institutes, and others), there was the need to create or reshape the above-mentioned networks. Because of that, sometimes it was difficult to contact potential beneficiaries/partners, as well as initiatives that could be included in the experimentation process. Only after a pre-test effort and by demonstrating the potential of the initiative with empirical data was it possible to align all the partners to achieve the main objectives of the project.
Another challenge was to find the proper game dynamics, namely regarding the appropriate number of questions and the available images to go with each of the answers. This was solved in the experimentation phase with the testing of several prototypes.
Conditions for Success
The sponsorship of the project is an important condition for success. The role of the main the sponsors of the project (Directorate-General for Education, the Secretary of State for Citizenship and Equality and the Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth) is critical for the success of the project management.
The role of a pivotal entity, in this case, LabX, that can connect with the existing entities and has the expertise and know-how to activate the teams on the field, transferring knowledge on participatory methodologies and tools.
All the efforts that are now being done for the proper assessment of the innovation are of utmost importance to demonstrate to all the project partners and sponsors the benefits and the impact that is being – or can be - achieved with this initiative.
The innovation is, by-design, set to be easily adapted to different contexts, namely the ones that need a participatory diagnosis made by and with children, independently of the topic being addressed. In fact, the game kit has blank cards so that the beneficiaries can adapt it to their own context, needs, and goals. This enables the entities using the game to ask different questions and to prepare different sets of answers.
The main lesson learned from this project is the importance of placing children at the centre of their participatory processes, valuing their opinions and feelings, and making sure that they have a voice and that they are engaged in the whole process, including the implementation of the project.
It is also important to have a good research phase and question any preconceived ideas. Initially, the idea was to develop a mobile app to engage the children and to find out their ideas regarding several different topics and there was the assumption that children would enjoy being engaged using an app. The LabX approach helped to question this assumption and developed a research project to find out which would be the best method to engage children from 7 to 14 years old, trying to find out their real needs and expectations, instead of assuming what those were. The result was that the app would not be the best solution and that the children would have a better response to a card game.
The research enabled the creation of a game that besides facilitating the children's learning of the themes, also promotes its practical application in a project context and that, along the way, can activate the community to solve problems and to be part of the solutions.
To constantly evaluate the initiatives and communicate the results to all the partners involved in the project is also of major importance.
Finally, it is helpful to test the initiatives on a smaller scale, but in a real-life context and with real users, controlling the costs and the risks, and testing the solutions before scaling them up.
One of the 21 initiatives that were already implemented based on the “It’s My Turn” card game, was implemented by the association Cool.Brave from Amadora (a municipality). 20 children participated through the game to find out the themes they would like to work in and how to address them.
The diagnosis done through “It’s My Turn!” revealed that the children were keen to work with environmental protection and urban hygiene in collaboration with the Amadora community, mainly the parents, family, and friends. Based on this, the association then developed six viable initiatives/projects for the kids to vote for their favorite ones, again using the game. Two projects were elected: one related to the neighborhood cleanup and another related to the planting of a community vegetable garden. These two projects were put into practice by the children but also engaged the families, spreading to the rest of the community.