The ‘Better World Programme’ is made up of the following three initiatives…
1. The World Scout Environment Badge
2. The Scouts of the World Award
3. The Messengers of Peace Award
A little while ago, the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM) and the United Nations (UN) teamed up to create this programme, the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) forming a core aspect of the badges. Each National Scout Association (NSO) was presented with WOSM’s guidelines for the badges, but were given the freedom to create their own specific criteria for them.
The focus of the initiative is to promote both local community action and scout ideals through community service, positive environmental actions, and co-operation with global campaigns. Thousands of Scouts worldwide are already celebrating the success of their explore-reflect-action journeys (similar to Scouting Ireland’s plan-do-review process) at scout.org! Although age requirements for the awards vary, they are open to both Scouts and non-Scouts, and compliment the Chief Scout Award (CSA), Gaisce and special interest badge programmes
The World Environment Badge
The World Environment Badge endeavours to connect young people and the natural world through meaningful action projects. The projects should be carried out in small teams following WOSM’s age-appropriate time commitments. Examples of successful projects include a ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ project where waste was collected and used as craft materials to create works of art and furniture, while another project included tree planting and raising awareness of pollution among young people in the Scouts’ local community.
The Messengers of Peace Award
The Messengers of Peace Award aims to promote world peace through the positive activities of young people. Any Scout who has voluntarily invested more than 10 hours in a community service project is eligible for the award. This can be anything from running a ‘legal awareness camp’ for the disadvantaged in your local community, to coordinating a book donation for a school in need.
The Scouts of the World Award
The Scouts of the World Award involves a voluntary service project in one of three key areas – development, peace, or the environment. The award is open to both Venture and Rover Scouts, or those between the ages of 15 – 26. Once again, the project may take place locally or internationally. For example, an Australian Rover troop travelled to East Timor, where they found that a local school was in need of a sanitation block. With the help of the local Rover troop, they helped to construct the amenity. Their support of the community continues today with their involvement in the ‘Dollars for Dili’ campaign.
The fundamental aim of The SW Award is to develop ‘world citizens’: people who actively engage in creating a better world for all, commencing at a local level.
To reiterate, the Scouts of the World Award may only be undertaken by Venture and Rover Scouts, or those between the ages of 15 – 26. The SW Award is a team award: A group of friends may collaborate for the award, or a Scout may support an existing project launched by WOSM or another organisation (SVP, UNESCO, etc.).
The ‘explore’ stage
One of the first tasks Scouts undertaking the award will encounter is the SW Discovery workshop. Scouts will walk away from the workshop with an outline plan for their SW Award Voluntary Service project. The workshop lasts for a number of days (minimum of 21 working hours). Let’s take a look at the objectives of the workshop…
- Familiarise Scouts with the stages of the SW Award.
- Discover and explore a challenge, related to a global issue, faced by the Scouts’ community. This challenge must be associated with one or more of the award’s three aspects – development, peace, and/or the environment.
- Research the identified challenge and its effect on these Scouts at both a personal and a community level.
- Begin planning a service project to address this challenge.
The ‘action’ stage
The next stage in the SW Award is implementing the Voluntary Service project; a long-term endeavour of at least 80 working hours. The project may last from a fortnight (the average), to over a period of months, depending on the requirements for each project. This project should correspond to your chosen theme of development, peace, or environment agreed upon in the SW Discovery. Fundraising may be necessary. A period of work driven by private motives (such as a company internship) does not qualify as an SW Voluntary Service – in other words, it has to be from the heart. Sustainability and follow-ups post project-completion can be considered equally important as the project itself.
The ‘reflect’ stage
As the project draws to a close, Scouts will be required to submit an evaluation of their voluntary service for review. This review should demonstrate that the Scouts have acquired a new capacity to serve the community by gaining valuable knowledge, attitudes, motivations, skills, values etc. Although the service project will inevitably come to an end, the incredible achievements of the project must not go to waste! They should be sustained and monitored in the months and years that follow, making the best use of the Scouts’ newfound skillset.
Below is a summary of all the steps Scouts will need to follow to get their SW Award…
- Register: Contact your NSO’s SWA Coordinator
- Plan: Complete an SW Discovery
- Do: Complete an SW Award Voluntary Service
- Review: Evaluate your SW Award Discovery and Voluntary Service
- Submit: Send your report into the SWA Coordinator and report on scout.org about your SW Award
- Celebrate your achievements; andensure the sustainability of the project!
This initiative was established to support the development of environmental education across global scout bodies. The foundations of this badge are built upon the aims that reflect the goals of environmental education in WOSM (see below).
Scouts are working towards a world where…
- People and natural systems have clean water and clean air.
- Sufficient natural habitat exists to support native species.
- The risk of harmful substances to people and the environment are minimised.
- The most suitable environmental practises are used.
- People are prepared to respond to environmental hazards and natural disasters.
These aims parallel the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and act as guidelines for the award. Groups should try to cover as many of these aims as possible over the course of their project. The programme encourages Scouts to have a holistic awareness of the natural world and how their everyday actions can impact upon this, progressively building a sense of personal responsibility for the environment.
Participation in the programme follows a simple structure:
- Register: A section or small team registers to begin the programme
- Plan: Using activities, explore and reflect on each of the five areas in the programme – Clean water and clean air, natural habitats, risks of harmful substances minimised, suitable environmental practices, and environmental hazards and natural disasters.
- Take Action: Complete an environmental project based on your exploration of the issues and which helps the local environment.
- Review: Evaluate your project and each scout reviews their role.
- Submit an application for the World Scout Environment Badge which records all your exploration activities and the environmental project.
Here is a link to additional resources
Exploring Nature Habitats
The Messengers of Peace Award was established to inspire youths of all nationalities to take an active role in the preservation, propagation and perpetuation of world peace. Any Scout project that brings a positive change in a community – its health, environment, social circumstances, safety or addresses conflict – is a Messengers of Peace project. Since 2012, Scouts across the world have been sharing their community service initiatives online on scout.org. To date, more than 620,000,000 service hours have been registered in over 40,000 community service initiatives.
The badge may be awarded to any Scout whose voluntary involvement in a community service project has exceeded 10 hours. This may be a local or international community. Once again, it is required that groups follow the SDGs as a project guide, and make use of the ‘explore, reflect, local action’ method throughout the project.
Participation in the Award follows a simple structure:
- A section, small team or an individual registers to being the Award.
- Plan: Learn about a local social issue and decide on the ways in which you can help
- Do: Crews complete a community project
- Review: Evaluate your project and each scout reviews their role and submit an application for the Messengers of Peace Award.
- Celebrate your achievement!