Teams of school pupils have been diligently promoting their ideas in the Ruhr region, and with the online vote having drawn to a close, the time has finally come. The winners of the “Förderturm der Ideen” school competition have been announced: Bochum is getting a recreation area, Essen can look forward to smart lamps, Duisburg-Rheinhausen is establishing a meeting group and the winning team from Oberhausen will tell the story of Oberhausen’s mining heritage with a newly designed path. Hopsten is getting an outdoor fitness park and Ibbenbüren a children’s rights trail. The winners were awarded on 24th June 2019 at the exciting awards ceremony in the Erich Brost Pavilion at the Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site (Figure 1). The jury was so impressed by the high quality of the submissions that a further six teams achieved special recognition for their ideas.
The twelve finalists from the Ruhr region in the categories “Liveable City” and “Positive Neighbourhood”, divided into lower and upper secondary levels, surpassed themselves time and again during the online vote with a series of campaigns for their ideas. As well as appealing on social media and in local newspapers, some pupils even handed out flyers that they had designed themselves. They had further support from their cities, communities and numerous volunteer helpers. They lost no opportunity to pick up votes! In the end, the following four teams came out on top:
Winner of the “Liveable City” category, lower secondary level:
- Green recreation: Team “Iraklion” from year nine at the Lessing school in Bochum will upgrade Wiebuschweg in the Langendreer district by adding a green space, installing bins and even putting up signs they have designed themselves.
Winner of the “Liveable City” category, upper secondary level:
- Smart lamps: Team “Licht bei der Nacht” from year twelve at the Essen-Borbeck High School for Girls promoted their idea of better illuminating the gloomy Schlosspark and helping visitors feel safer by installing a panic button.
The following team was voted winner of the “Positive Neighbourhood” category at lower secondary level:
- Circular exchange: The team “’GLÜCK AUF!’ WIR TREFFEN UNS!” from years 5 to 8 at Rheinhausen secondary school in Duisburg will set up a meeting group in their district, offering a variety of activities, such as dancing, storytelling and board games.
And in the “Positive Neighbourhood” category at upper secondary level, the residents of the Ruhr region voted for the following winner:
- History connects us: Twelfth-year team “Die Übergänger” from the Heinrich-Heine-Gymnasium in Oberhausen will symbolically connect two sides of the road by designing a new path which traces the history of Oberhausen.
Both the Ibbenbüren winners were awarded prizes by the jury, and also announced on 24th June 2019:
- Children’s rights trail: Team “Korczak-Kids” from years 5 to 8 at Janusz-Korczak school won with their idea to exhibit artworks displaying information on children’s rights along the circular trail at the Aasee.
- Fitness for everybody: The “Fitness-Füchse” in year 12 at the Hüberts´sche school vocational college in Hopsten stood out from the competition with the following proposal: An outdoor fitness park with equipment for all ages, particularly including those with physical disabilities.
North-Rhine Westphalia’s Minister for Education Yvonne Gebauer, patron of the competition, expressed her enthusiasm for the pupils’ ideas: “The winning teams really impressed us with their outstanding performances and creativity. I’d like to congratulate all of them on their fantastic ideas for a liveable city and a positive neighbourhood. Projects like this show how much potential there is in the region and what an impact bringing together many great ideas can have. The pupils have set a clear example for their home towns and can now look forward to the implementation of their projects.”
In addition to the winners, six other teams impressed the jury with their ideas and were therefore given special recognition.
Bärbel Bergerhoff-Wodopia, Member of the Board of Executives of RAG-Stiftung and chair of the jury, was full of praise: “We received more than 50 ideas for an attractive Ruhr region. It was a tough decision for the jury. All the ideas were brilliant in their own way and showed that all the participants put their heart and soul into it. The second round of the competition also revealed that the young people of the Ruhr region and Ibbenbüren think very fondly of their home. They want to work with us to shape the future. Up to 50,000 € per winning project will now help to make their ideas for the future a reality. I’m already looking forward to the implementation of the projects.”
The winners of the “Förderturm der Ideen” school competition in Saarland have also been announced: Bärbel Bergerhoff-Wodopia, member of the jury and Ulrich Commerçon, Saarland Minister for Education and patron of the school competition in Saarland, honoured the winning teams at the awards ceremony on 26th June 2019 at the Ministry for Education and Culture in Saarbrücken, highlighting the pupils’ great dedication to their home (Figure 2). In total, more than 400 pupils took part, with more than 50 entries in the overall competition in the Ruhr region, Saarland and Ibbenbüren.
After an exciting jury session and intensive discussions in mid-April, the jurors announced the following winning teams:
Lower secondary winner:
- Place for the generations: The year 8 team “BQA – Besseres Quierschied für alle” from the Gemeinschaftsschule in Quierschied won with their idea for a central meeting place – including a fire pit, raised beds, pond and playground – which both young and old can enjoy.
Upper secondary winner:
- Warndt meeting point: The year 11 team “Die Denk-Maler” from the Gemeinschaftsschule in Völklingen will upgrade the area around the derelict Warndt memorial by planting flowers and installing benches and play equipment.
Both winning teams will be awarded up to 50,000 € for the implementation of their ideas. Bergerhoff-Wodopia praised the tremendous dedication of the young participants, and emphasised: “Every team can feel like a winner. We were so impressed with the pupils’ many creative ideas. It was a tough decision for the jury. I’d like to congratulate the winning teams on their success and am already looking forward to the implementation of their ideas!”
Because the jury was so impressed with the high quality of the entries, they decided to give another project special recognition: The team “New kids of Neinkerje” from years 10 and 11 at the vocational training centre TGSBBZ Neunkirchen wanted to create a city garden which everybody can get involved with, plus a “Chill & Grill” area where the neighbourhood can get together.
“The huge commitment which the pupils showed in taking on the task set in this competition really impressed me. They are promoting the enhancement of their home towns and the improvement of the living conditions there, which means they’re taking responsibility – it’s brilliant! RAG-Stiftung will soon get down to implementing the winning ideas. I can’t wait to see the finished projects,” said Commerçon.