A collective project is under way in Södra Ryd, which is the largest city district in Skövde, home to 6,300 residents, involving urban redevelopment with the overall aim of counteracting segregation and promoting equal conditions for everyone living and growing up in the area. One way forward is interacting with clubs and societies. Being an active member of a club or society is a tradition that is deeply rooted among Swedes, but is not equally evident in other parts of the world. Area development officers in Södra Ryd have taken this on board with the ESA project.
“ESA (After-school activities) is a targeted initiative based on observations that children in Södra Ryd are less involved in club and society activities than children in other parts of Skövde. Through ESA we are working to encourage children to try out new things connected with both civil society, school and religious communities,” says Sofi Calizaya, area development officer.
Some of the activities children in Södra Ryd can try out through ESA include football, theatre, art and homework assistance. In order to ensure a broad offering and create plenty of scope for social contact for children and their parents, the area development officers in Södra Ryd are working together with the church, SISU Idrottsutbildarna (sports organisation), Medborgarskolan (study association), Konstenheten (public art), the Police, the recreation centre, the school and the library in Södra Ryd. Students from the University of Skövde are involved in homework assistance sessions, helping to motivate children with their schoolwork.
“Integration is a complex social issue that requires effort from everyone,” says Sofi. We can look at the issue another way and ask who is segregated? It requires commitment and initiative from both those who have been involved for a long time and those who are new.