Flemish pupils support youth charities by working for a day


Secondary school students took to workplaces across Flanders and Brussels this week to earn €50 for youth empowerment in Ecuador and at home

Spokespeople and streetcleaners

More than 15,000 secondary school students across Flanders and Brussels abandoned their classrooms on Thursday to go to work instead. As well as gaining experience of the workplace, they were earning money to support a youth project in Ecuador, and two projects here in Flanders.

Some 7,500 employers took part in the initiative, which is open to students between 15 and 19 years of age. This included large and small companies, non-profits and colleges, public sector organisations and politicians.

Geert Bourgeois, minister-president of Flanders, took on one student to work as his spokesperson for the day (pictured), while three students took over the Instagram account of Maggie De Block, federal minister for social affairs and public health.

The police, fire brigade, army and navy all invited students to get involved, and Leuven city hall made 30 jobs available, from administration to street cleaning. Companies taking part included Brussels Airlines (which gained two new cabin crew), recruitment consultant Randstad and Ellis Gourmet Burgers.

€50 each to youth initiatives

The initiative comes from Youth of Change and Action, a non-profit organisation that encourages young people to engage with social and sustainable development issues. This engagement also has the benefit of increasing their experiences and stimulating their personal development.

Each pupil earned €50 for their day’s work, money which this year is destined for a project addressing sexual violence and teenage pregnancy in Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador. Youth clubs set up in the Nueva Prosperina neighbourhood aim to increase access to information about sexual health and contraception, to change attitudes to sex and to build solidarity between girls and young women. More broadly, the clubs help young women influence decision-making in their communities.

Two Flemish projects will also receive support, after they were chosen by participants in the initiative. One is an online platform developed by Wel Jong Niet Hetero that connects young people who feel they may be lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans. The other is a project on sexual harassment developed by the International Centre Ethics in Sport.

Photo: Sort out this paperwork, will you? Students worked this week in restaurants, colleges, airlines – and for politicians – to raise money for causes close to their hearts
©Geert Bourgeois/Twitter