Belfast, United Kingdom


Photographer: Mariusz Smiejek

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

Darren Linton is a youth and community worker based in Greater Shankill, a unionist, or pro-British, area of Belfast in Northern Ireland. Since the end of the Troubles, the nearly three-decades-long conflict between mostly Catholic Irish nationalists and the largely Protestant, pro-British unionists in 1998, Northern Ireland has been largely free of sectarian violence. But many neighbourhoods have struggled to return to normality. Working class areas in particular face unemployment, drug addiction, high suicide rates and continuing paramilitarism. Darren works on a range of projects. Some bring together young people from the two sides of Northern Ireland’s sectarian divide, giving them a chance to get to know each other. Others aim at preventing violence between young people from both communities. And others look to take vulnerable young people off the streets of Belfast’s more difficult areas.


Kiev, Ukraine


Photographer: Sergiy Kadulin

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

Olena Golubeva teaches computer animation as a tool to show children how to think creatively and learn the basics of numeracy. Through Red Dog, her animation studio in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, she shows children aged from seven to sixteen how to come up with story ideas, create scenarios, make model animals from plasticine, paint and draw figures and scenery, and then put everything together into an animated video. Along the way, her students learn project planning, software development, photography and video production.


Santiponce, Spain



Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

Javier Santana is president of Hispania Romana, a Spanish association dedicated to recreating the world of the Roman empire. Since 2000, Javier and his fellow members have dressed up as gladiators, senators, soldiers and even prostitutes for audiences at festivals, archaeological sites and schools in Spain and across Europe. The biggest event of Javier’s year is the “Italica Viva Re-enactment Weekend” he organises in the southern Spanish city of Santiponce, the hometown of emperors Trajan and Hadrian. Over two days, a hundred and fiy performers from across Spain re-enact their idea of what life was like in ancient Rome for crowds of up to nearly ten


Moscow, Russia


Photographer: Nataliya Kharlamova

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

For nearly two decades, Viktor Krotov, 70, has run a free creative-writing studio for children and adults with and without disabilities. In his classes, he helps people discover and explore their own creativity. His students play games using poetry, fiction, essays and aphorisms and see what emerges – a process Viktor calls “shaking by genres”. For most of his students, Viktor’s creative games are a therapy in their own right – ways of helping them understand and cope with everyday life. For a few, the games have led to a new vocation. Sonya Shatalova (right) has severe autism that prevents her from speaking or writing by herself. Through Viktor’s classes, she discovered a talent for writing poetry. A collection of her work, I Am Not Mute, was published in Moscow in 2015.


Vila De Conde, Portugal


Photographer: Rui Farinha

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

For more than four centuries, Vila do Conde has been one of Europe’s leading makers of bobbin lace, a textile created by twisting lengths of linen thread into intricate patterns. Today, the ways of making bobbin lace are being introduced to children through regular classes at the Bobbin Lace School in the town’s Bobbin Lace Museum. In the 20th century, machine-made lace led to a decline in Vila do Conde’s hand-made lace-making. From more than 500 lacemakers in the 1940s, the number fell to 100 elderly lace-makers by the late 1970s. More recently, the opening of a cra centre, the holding of an annual cra fair and a growth in tourism have all helped spur


Soesterberg, Netherlands


Photographer: Annette Nijenbanning

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

After deciding that today’s schools could not prepare their five children to live in today’s world, Gerdt and Janneke Kernkamp set up their own school in their home in Soesterberg, a town in the northern Netherlands. Already they have sixteen children learning at the school. Classes alternate between interdisciplinary projects, personal leadership lessons, traditional subjects and expeditions – trips to museums or a local race track for the younger children, journeys to other countries to learn languages and life skills for the older ones. “At our school a student takes an individual learning path,” say Gerdt and Janneke. “Learning is divided between making your own choices and working together in a peer group setting. Who am I? What do I see in the world? What talents do I have to share with the world? All children need a broad range of knowledge and experiences to figure out these questions.”


Klaipeda, Lithuania


Photographer: Mattia Vacca

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

In the gym of a military base in Klaipėda, a city on Lithuania’s Baltic coast, cadets in their first week of training are shown a video of fighting between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian soldiers in south-east Ukraine’s Donbass region. In Lithuania and the two other Baltic states, Latvia and Estonia – all former states of the Soviet Union that are now members of Nato and the EU – many people fear possible Russian aggression. An increase in military activity in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave on Lithuania’s western border, prompted the government in Vilnius to resume military conscription. In September 2015, the Lithuanian army started training 3,000 recruits as part of a programme to expand its self-defence forces.


Busto Arsizio, Italy


Photographer: Stefano Borghi

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

Italian Umberto Pelizzari is one of the world’s greatest freedivers. Born in 1965, through the 1990s and early 2000s he established world records across every freediving discipline. Since retiring from competing in 2001, he has dedicated his life to sharing his diving knowledge and calling for the world to take better care of its seas. Through Apnea Academy, his freediving training agency based in Busto Arsizio, a town near Milan in northern Italy, Umberto (below right) runs courses in swimming pools, at sea, in schools and research centres. Drawing on techniques from yoga and sophrology – a way of thinking that believes physical and mental exercises can be used to focus both the mind and the body – his lessons explore the mental side of diving more than its physical aspects.


Olafsfjorour, Iceland


Photographer: Deanna Ng

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

Lara Stefánsdóttir is principal of Menntaskólinn á Tröllaskaga, a junior college in the northern Icelandic town of Olafsfjorour. She took up her post six years ago, just after rules were introduced giving schools enormous freedom to design their own curriculums. That change, however, was also a challenge. “In a small town, most students don’t finish school. Most either become sailors or marry one. You can earn a million or two kronas going out to sea. So why bother with education?” Her answer was to help students figure out why staying on at school could give them more options for their future and allow them to stay and maintain their roots in the town. “The school builds the community and in return, the community helps build the school,” she says. Atli Tómasson has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, a chronic condition that makes it hard for him to sustain attention. Before Lara became Menntaskólinn á Tröllaskaga’s principal, he was constantly dropping in and out of school. He finally graduated after Lara worked with him, trying out different classes to find out what he liked and was good at. He is now a fine art student at university.


Gyöngyöspata, Hungary


Photographer: Zoltán Balogh

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

In a family home in northern Hungary’s Gyöngyöspata region, a group of young Roma gather to play a board game based on logic. The evening’s activity is organised by Careamic, a childdevelopment project set up by a group of four volunteers from Budapest – university student Dávid Miklós, mathematician Pál Galicza, consultant Ágnes Pletser and ceramicist Éva Hámori – to expand extra-curricular activities for Roma children. To fund their scheme, the Careamic team have also founded a social enterprise that works with the children’s parents to make and sell ceramic products.


Wendland, Germany


Photographer: Chris Grodotzki

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

In Wendland, a district in northern Germany, residents refuse to follow the rise of xenophobia taking place across much of Europe. Instead, they welcome the arrival of refugees with open arms. Here, people organise welcome celebrations, offer free language courses and other workshops, share their sports clubs and put on shows in theatres and community centres for the newcomers to their district. Some people host refugees in their own homes, others engage in cultural exchange projects where they introduce the new arrivals to the culture and customs of their country life. Twice a week, local teachers offer free German lessons and tutoring for refugee children. Wendland is not a well-off place. With a population that is declining, its economy is stagnating. But rather than seeing this as a reason to shut its doors to outsiders, villagers hope new arrivals can help them revive the local area. Refuge Wendland, a group set up to support migrants, is demanding the resettlement of 10,001 refugees to the district of 49,000. It plans to set up a new multicultural village. While Germany and most other European countries debate ways of restricting refugee arrivals, the people of Wendland want to turn today’s refugees into tomorrow’s neighbours. Not only are they teaching their new residents German, they are also teaching the rest of Germany and Europe a lesson in how to welcome and treat people.


Strasbourg, France


Photographer: Anne Milloux

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

In the last twelve years, more than 8,000 children have sung with Alfonso Nsangu-Cornu’s Gospel Kids Choir at concerts across France. Alfonso arrived in France in 1989 at the age of six, fleeing war in his home country, Angola. He first experienced gospel music as a teenager when he joined a choir in Strasbourg. Aer leaving school, he had a brief career as a mechanic before switching to become a full-time youth worker. In 2003, he combined his love of working with children with his passion for music in a series of extracurricular singing classes held at a local school. Their success paved the way for Alfonso to set up Gospel Kids Choir the following year. Since then, Alfonso has brought together children from different neighbourhoods, social backgrounds and cultures to sing gospel, African and French songs at a total of nearly 500 concerts.


Skive, Denmark


Photographer: Marianne Borowiec

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

Johan Laigaard runs a forest kindergarten in Skive, a town in north-west Denmark. Here, children run free outside every day, regardless of the weather. On windy days, the children make kites from plastic bags tied to lengths of string. On trips through the forest, Johan shows them how to observe the environment with all their senses. As the children play, Johan stays in the background. How high should they climb a tree? To the point where they can still get down without the help of an adult. Left to their own devices, the children learn to take care of each other.


Prague, Czech Republic


Photographer: Hynek Glos

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

Šimon Ornest is the founder of The Tap Tap, a group of musicians and performers drawn from Prague’s Jedličkův Institute, an institution set up in 1913 to look after children with physical disabilities. Šimon, 42, formed The Tap Tap in 1998, soon after he joined Jedličkův as an educator. What began as a way of using music as a form of therapy has since grown into a major force in Czech show-business, playing at venues such as the Czech National Theatre and touring to international events in cities across Europe, from London to Moscow. The group plays both its own compositions and famous songs by others. It has made videos, put on plays and rappelled in wheelchairs from Prague’s Nusle Bridge.


Cres, Croatia


Photographer: Petar KÜRSCHNER

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

Vesna Jakic runs Ruta, an association that preserves the social, cultural and ecological identity of Cres, an island on Croatia’s Adriatic coast with a history of habitation dating back to the Paleolithic era two-and-a-half million years ago. Vesna teaches children about the island’s myths, cras and customs. On trips to the forest of Tramuntana on the northern end of the island, the children learn how to make elves’ hats using felt made with wool from the island’s sheep. Although Cres is one of Croatia’s biggest islands, 65 kilometres long and with an area of 400 square kilometres, only just over 3,000 people live there. In recent decades, many people have le the island for the Croatian mainland in search of work. Today, much of what was farming land is overgrown, while a growing wild boar population is threatening Cres’s island’s sheep by killing their lambs. 


Visoko, Bosnia and Herzegovina


Photographer: Jasmin Brutus

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

Fra Ivan teaches Latin and Croatian in a school run by Franciscan monks in Visoko, a town of 17,000 people close to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Twenty years ago, it stood on the frontline of fighting between Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats. Today, government-funded and free for all, its students include Muslims and Orthodox Christians as well as Catholics. Now in his mid-40s, Fra Ivan has been with the Franciscan order for twenty years. “Silentium est approbationem – silence is approval,” he tells his pupils. “If you see someone beating a child or a dog and you walk by, you are giving your approval.”


Minsk, Belarus


Photographer: Alessandro Vincenzi

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

In December 1990, shortly after the collapse of communist rule across Eastern Europe, a series of evening classes were held in the Belarusian capital, Minsk. Taught in Belarusian, and promoting Belarusian culture, those classes were the seeds that two years later led to the founding of the Belarusian Humanities Lyceum. The school was quick to establish itself as one of Belarus’s most prestigious centres of secondary education. In 1994, however, Belarus’s brief era of post-communist liberal rule came to an end with the election of Aleksander Lukashenko as the country’s president. Lukashenko, an advocate of Sovietstyle dictatorial rule, and who is still president, ordered schools to use only Russian-language textbooks. The refusal of the school’s staff to comply marked the start of years of official harassment, culminating in 2003 with an order to close the school. For a while, classes were held in private apartments, then in the basement of a Catholic church. Only in 2005 was the school able to find permanent premises, reopening in a large house on the outskirts of Minsk, where it still operates today, with a dozen teachers and some sixty students.