“I would like there to be a garden here where we can have watermelons and tomatoes,” says Edita. The 13-year-old stands on a large green area on Maxie-Wander-Straße in the Hellersdorf district. She and some of her fellow campaigners from the refugee shelter opposite have high hopes for the district’s future construction projects on this wasteland. “I wish there was a house here where only girls can come in. So without boys, because they always annoy us, ”says ten-year-old Shakhsalem, for example.
The young activists address their wishes to those responsible in district politics. Together with the child and youth participation office Marzahn-Hellersdorf they shot a video with which they stand up for their cause. They implemented this plan as part of the Young Politics Studio project, which is intended to offer a pandemic-friendly alternative to the annual children’s and youth assemblies. In recent years, these gatherings have provided space for children and young people to exchange their concerns and questions with district politicians. Since these face-to-face events are not allowed to take place in the Corona lockdown due to the far too high risk of infection, this year they are instead making videos that they are sending to the district office and are now waiting for the answers – also as a video.
The films of the young people available online offer an interesting insight into their diverse problems and interests: The UN youth leisure facility in Marzahn, for example, fears that if the four-lane federal road B158 is planned to be converted, it will lead directly through their garden in the future. Schoolchildren in the Mahlsdorf district are still waiting for the construction of a previously missing youth club to begin. The team of the Children’s and Youth Parliament in the process of being founded is committed to ensuring that young people’s participation is structurally anchored in the district. Activists from Fridays For Future are calling for more climate protection measures. And children from the refugee accommodation on Albert-Kuntz-Straße in Hellersdorf want zebra crossings to be created for the way to school and musical instruments to be obtained for their accommodation.
So far, only two response videos from the district office have been published. “We are continuing to work on making response videos to all questions,” assures Frank Petersen, the press spokesman for the Marzahn-Hellersdorf district office. But this is a complex process in which many different departments of the district office are involved. It would therefore take some time, he said on request.
The next step is to publish an answer for the children on Maxie-Wander-Straße. Susan Hermenau, the coordinator for refugee issues in the district office, can give an insight in advance. “The green space in front of the refugee accommodation is intended for municipal housing, among other things,” she explains to the “nd”. Until there is construction, the area can be used for cultural events. “As an integration office, we are pleased that the refugee children are getting involved, they are often forgotten or not asked,” says Susan Hermenau.
Antonia Groner works for the child and youth participation office Marzahn-Hellersdorf and prepared and moderated the content of the question videos together with some of her colleagues. “Children and young people should participate politically and be involved,” says the 20-year-old. Overall, she is satisfied with the video version that she developed for the children and youth assembly.
“The whole thing was of course much more complex now, but I think it was worth it,” says Groner.