20 October 2023, Geneva, Switzerland – To mark its 60th anniversary, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) launched the 'SDG4Kids' initiative, a series of interactive educational experiences linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), aimed at engaging Geneva’s young minds to create positive change for a better future.
UNITAR invites Geneva’s young minds to explore 60 years of impact and sustainable development
As part of the 60th-anniversary celebrations, UNITAR is organizing a public photo exhibition in Geneva from 2 to 27 October, displayed on the Rotonde du Quai du Mont-Blanc, illustrating 60 years of history as well as stories of UNITAR alumni who made a positive change in their community. The alumni all share remarkable stories, each intertwined with their unique contributions to advancing the 17 SDGs.
In line with the anniversary activities aimed at generating a local impact and raising awareness of sustainable development within the Geneva community, UNITAR invites local public and international primary school children to embark on interactive “SDG4Kids” tours of the exhibition. These tours are guided by UNITAR staff and designed to educate children about the SDGs in a fun and engaging way, featuring illustrative stories from the exhibition, interactive quizzes, treasure hunts, an SDG Wheel of Fortune, and creative chalk drawing activities, all designed to inspire and foster a sense of connection with these important global goals.
Connecting local children with the global agenda
Throughout October, 120 children visited the exhibition, coming from the Geneva English School, British School of Geneva, Swedish School of Geneva, German School of Geneva and Etablissement primaire des Grottes / Beaulieu / Cropettes. The SDG4Kids tours aim to achieve more than just expanding the children's knowledge of the SDGs; they also seek to inspire, encourage active reflection, and foster meaningful discussions about how to create a more sustainable future.
Annabel Keigwin, a Teacher, and Deputy Head of Primary at the British School Geneva, vividly describes the tour’s impact after participating with her class of 25 ten to eleven-year-old children: She shares,
The UNITAR guides managed to get a range of ideas and answers from the children, eliciting information that they have not learned in my classroom so far this term. It was a joy to see quite how much they knew and good to address the stereotypes or sometimes interesting points of view.
The children's engagement during the tour was noteworthy, and Annabel describes that their learnings left a lasting impression:
They returned to the classroom with a heightened awareness of the SDGs and, later in the day, eagerly shared what they had learned and how they could contribute to achieving them.
The SDG4Kids initiative also strives to bridge Geneva's international community and the local community, making it easier for the city's children to better understand the organizations operating in their very own backyard and to better relate to the global goals.
Mark Majeski, a participating teacher from the Swedish School of Geneva, highlighted the importance of creating relatable connections to the UN for the children. He shared,
It was important for the children to see inspiring young professionals working for the UN. A few students made connections to prior knowledge about the UN and this workshop offered in-depth information on what are the current goals for the UN.
Creating learning experiences resonating with young learners
The 'SDG4Kids' tour programme and content are developed by UNITAR’s Strategic Implementation of the 2030 Agenda Unit (or 2030 Agenda Unit) led by Elena Proden, Senior Specialist and Team Leader. This dedicated team focuses on enhancing the knowledge and skills of individuals and institutions to maximize positive impacts across all Global Goals and Pillars of the 2030 Agenda.
Known for providing high-quality, innovative knowledge products and services tailored to the needs of those aspiring to contribute to implementing the 2030 Agenda, they played a pivotal role in ensuring that the 'SDG4Kids' programme became an innovative and impactful educational tool.
Elena Proden shares
The tour programme was developed with a central focus on including interactive elements such as quiz cards and treasure hunts to bring a touch of fun and excitement to the learning experience, making the complex concept of the SDGs more approachable and engaging for children. The integration of gamification makes the tours not just informative, but also captures the children's attention, involves them actively, and reinforces a learning environment that is both relevant and memorable, contributing to a deeper connection with these vital global goals.
Through the 'SDG4Kids' tours and nurturing a sense of responsibility towards the SDGs from an early age, UNITAR underscores its dedication to also equipping Geneva's youth with the knowledge and encouragement required to become agents of positive change in our world.
The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is a dedicated training arm of the United Nations founded in 1963 by the General Assembly with a mission to enhance the UN's effectiveness through training and research. The Institute offers a wide range of training programmes and learning solutions to assist individuals and organizations in addressing global challenges. In 2022, close to 400,000 individuals benefited from UNITAR’s programmes through more than 1,300 learning events. UNITAR has been headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, since 1993.