Walter Association

The Association for Promoting Multiculturality Walter, is a Finnish non-profit non-governmental organization that has a goal the furthering of intercultural communication and interaction, especially with children and youths. The association aims to influence peoples’ values to increase respecting others, understanding, caring and the taking of responsibility.

Among other things Walter Assoc. organizes school workshops, afternoon clubs and events. These aim at improving broad mindedness through active and open interaction.

Walter Assoc. currently has two active projects. KYTKE and UB.

KYTKE project

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KYTKE-project, or “connect” in Finnish, is a loose acronym of the Finnish words meaning Intercultural Interaction Through Joint Action. The central element of the project is to run 60 minute workshops at middle schools (grades 7-9).

The workshops are run by Finnish present, or former, professional athletes and sportsmen with diverse ethnic backgrounds. They’re suited for about 100 students at a time. During the workshops, the presenters explain concepts related to being Finnish, multiculturality, identity, discrimination and racism. After this, the students work in small groups to ponder these issues more in depth. The presenters participate in these group works and help guide the discussions.

Students are asked to bring forward their own experiences, feelings and thoughts. The presenters tell stories from their own lives, which encourage the students to do the same. They are challenged to question their own stereotypes and reflect on their identity. There are no single correct answers to the questions the groups deal with. The goal is that through open discussion, students will learn to understand their own prejudices and appreciate diversity. Everyone has a right to define themselves as they wish and a duty to respect others’ right for the same.

In addition to the workshops, KYTKE-project has five other focus points, or tasks. All of the project’s parts are free of cost to the schools. Activities are funded by the Ministry of Education of Finland. KYTKE provides:

  • Peer Support, in which project workers provide support and guidance to students and their parents through face-to-face meetings. The meetings are often complimented by regular mailing and calling.
  • A Supportline, manned (or womanned) three days a week. The supportline provides a listener, support or advice to callers on issues related to rasism, discrimination or bullying. Num: 04 04 85 85 55 Tue-Thu 14.00-19.00. The supportline is complemented by live-chat support on the website.
  • Mediation, in cases where students or teachers face conflicts related to multiculturality, KYTKE-members can function as mediators.
  • Parents’ evenings, where a similar workshop to that held with the students is held for the parents.
  • A material package, containing exercises and information for teachers to organize classes dealing with discrimination and multiculturality.

The KYTKE project reaches over 60 schools and around 16 000 students every year. The most recent developments include the expansion of the workshops to encompass primary schools and an investigation on the social effect of the workshops being conducted by the University of Helsinki.

UB project

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Why is this project being done?
Social exclusion of the young is expensive for society. The promotion of inclusion and feeling of community decreases the risks of marginalization. One important feature that protects the young is regular participation in hobbies.

The purpose of the project
The main purpose of the project is to concentrate on the declining urban areas. The project intends to improve the

quality of life of those immigrant and local children and their families who are in danger of marginalization. Girls with an immigrant-background are a special target-group of the project. We intend to bring interesting events and hobbies to such declining urban areas in Vantaa and Helsinki, where there are large numbers of young people from risk-groups of social exclusion.The execution of the project

Urban street-events will be held in the so called declining urban areas. By this we mean suburbs, where different social problems are most clearly prevalent. In these events the young can participate in different work-shops, in which street-dance (freestyle), street-music (rap/mc) and street-art (graffiti) are taught and in which it is possible to play street-basketball or street-football. The events are led by tutors from Walter´s partners and the entity is organized by Walter ry. The areas of the project are Helsinki, Vantaa, Espoo and Tampere.