Walter Association

Walter is a Finnish non-profit non-governmental organization focused on furthering 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, custodian and teacher education sessions, afternoon clubs and events. All activities aim at improving broad mindedness through active and open interaction.

Walter currently has four active projects which out of two have been fully created, implemented and governed by the association itself. These are 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 core of the project are 60 minute workshops targeted primarily at middle schools (grades 7-9).

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

The presenters share stories from their own lives, encouraging 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 three 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 Social Affairs and Health of Finland.

KYTKE provides:

  • Peer Support, in which project workers provide support and guidance to students and their parents through organized special activities and events.
  • 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.

UB project

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

The purpose of the project
The main purpose of the project is to help prevent social exclusion among youth especially in declining urban areas. By declining urban areas we mean suburbs, where different social problems are most clearly prevalent. 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 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 also be held in the declining urban areas. In these events the youth can participate in different work-shops, in which street-dance (freestyle), street-music (rap/mc) and street-art (graffiti) are taught and where youth can also participate in 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.