Centers for Active People
The Centers for Active People are a network of neighborhood community centers in Nizhny Novgorod and Kirov. There are twelve centers in each city and their goal is to motivate local residents to get involved in making their communities better places.
The motto of the centers is: “To help people help themselves.” The staff of the centers provide support to residents so that they can accomplish their goals for neighborhood improvement. If a resident approaches staff with an idea to organize activities for teens to keep them occupied after school, for example, the staff will train them in how to bring the idea to fruition themselves rather than the staff organizing the activities for them. The resident will thereby be empowered with the skills to bring together other neighbors, gather needed resources, and determine the activities and schedule.
The centers strive to:
- Help people change and improve their lives and the lives of those around them;
- Help people to become a necessary part of a successful neighborhood;
- Unite like-minded people;
- Give people confidence in themselves and in their ability to achieve their goals;
- Create new opportunities for active citizens to achieve their initiatives;
- Inform others about successful examples in which residents were able to solve neighborhood problems;
- Motivate people to take an active part in coming up with ideas on how to improve their communities.
The centers target early adopters; those individuals who are creative, energetic, and who see problems and are eager to develop solutions. Below are a few examples of projects that the residents around the centers have achieved in only the few years that they have been in existence:
- A resident at one center organized a cinema event for elderly residents during which old movies were shown. The goal of the event was to bring together residents who live along and often suffer from loneliness and isolation. Many of the participants hadn’t been to the movies in years and said that they “laughed so hard they almost cried!” The event helped participants get to know their neighbors and prompted them to organize subsequent get-togethers.
- Another center organized a basketball club for troubled teens. The leaders of the club are young men in college or recent graduates who serve in a volunteer capacity and become mentors to the teen participants who grow to trust the volunteers enough to come to them with their problems.
- A resident near another center started a neighborhood beautification project and plants flowers near entryways throughout her apartment complex.
- In addition to running a pre-school, organizing parenting classes, and providing art and craft classes for mothers, the Lada Family Center also organizes volunteer events in which participants help to insulate and repair windows in time for winter in apartments where low-income residents live, collect winter coats for those who can’t afford to buy then, and collect toys and gifts for children in orphanages and other low-income children.
- Residents near other centers have organized neighborhood photo exhibits, street choir performances, collected children’s books to create a library at the center, and computer classes for senior citizens.
These are only a small sampling of the many activities that the residents who are supported by the centers have conducted. As participation grows and as residents increase their confidence in organizing events, taking charge of neighborhood improvement, and achieving their goals, neighborhoods in Nizhny Novgorod and Kirov (along with Perm and Kazan who have recently joined this movement) will become cleaner, safer, happier, and more beautiful.
This project was created and is coordinated by Sluzhenye, a Nizhny Novgorod-based non-profit organization that provides support, training, consultation and other services to area nonprofits. To further strengthen the work of the Centers for Active People Sluzhenye created a School for Social Activists. The school is not only for Center directors but also for leaders of other local nonprofit organizations and neighborhood association representatives. In 2014 the school transformed from in person meetings to a series of webinars. Topics covered in the webinars include how to form partnerships, how to conduct fundraising, leadership skills, working with volunteers, how to gather needed resources, the basics of effective communication, grant writing, and many other topics.
To learn more or to support this project, contact Sluzhenye at:
Тel: (831) 431-30-52(831) 431-30-52, 431-35-64