By Nora Peter, IFRC

Whether it’s a charity run for orphans or an art club for refugees, teenagers all over Austria are encouraged to set their ideas in motion for the sake of people who need a hand.

The Austrian Red Cross launched its Call4Action program in 2015, inviting social project plans from young people, both inside and outside the organization. The appeal was widely advertised on Austrian Red Cross’ website and social media channels, as well as through information sessions.

Each applicant was contacted by a Red Cross volunteer who endorsed their ideas, gave them feedback or advice on how to present it. All submitted projects were then evaluated by a jury, and the best ones received financial support for the implementation.

Becoming social entrepreneurs

In 2016, eight projects were realized in frame of this program. Themes of the projects were reflecting on the current humanitarian challenges; many of them aiming to help refugee families settling down in Austria.

• Youth in Katzelsdorf organized a trip to the Schönbrunn Zoo for refugee families
• ’Run for a Smile’ charity run in Rechnitz raised 2,000 Euros for orphaned children
• „Red Cross Devils” in Korneuburg launched a public awareness campaign on ensuring disabled acces and on the visibility of life-saving equipment
• First Aid Olympics were organized in Ottenschlag with 70 participants
• Youth group in Amstetten collected and transported medical equipment for a hospital in Greece
• „Come2gether: aktiv-kreativ” project in Brunn united refugees with local students in a series of creative workshops
• „Project:traditions” involved refugees in festivity customs of host communities

„Call4Action encourages young people to come up with their own social projects that are in accordance with the principles of the Red Cross” – said Johannes Guger, Head of Division for Youth, Volunteering and Organisational Development at the Austrian Red Cross.

„Through these projects, they master challenges and problems in the local context, learn to recognize humanitarian need and act on it. They also learn to take responsibility, as they have to take care of the project’s finances and documentation.”

Motivated by the success of the program, the Austrian Red Cross continued the Call4Action in 2016, with several more project ideas to be realized during 2017.