The board game association “Young and Old Play” has won the special prize endowed with 5.000 euros at the nationwide start social competition with its game café of the generations. The campaign is under the patronage of the Federal Chancellor and honors voluntary projects and institutions for their commitment.
Since 2001, “Startsocial” has awarded awards to actions and organizations that are particularly committed. Through the nationwide competition, which has been under the patronage of Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel stands, social project work should be promoted.
Startsocial: win “board games” for the first time
The fact that, of all things, the games café of the generations of the association Young and Old Play has received an award this year is a small sensation. It is the first project in the field of games to receive the sponsorship award endowed with 5.000 euros. Previously, projects such as “Mobile Rescuers”, “Social Heroes”, but also various cultural funding programs were among the award winners.
“In the new round of the competition, too, we saw how imaginative and diverse social engagement can be,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel in her greeting. "Even the corona pandemic has not changed that." On the contrary, even or especially in difficult times, many people in Germany were very helpful and open to one another, said Merkel.
The eulogy of the Chancellor for the game café of the generations as the recipient of the special prize:
With the games café, the association has installed an offer against loneliness and thus for togetherness - and that in a comparatively short time. Although the association “Young and Old Play” has long since established itself as a permanent fixture in the scene, the non-profit organization was only founded at the end of 2017. The former professional soccer player Jens Nowotny acts as godfather. There is a solid concept behind the club's idea. In the meantime, board games have been awarded a specially created seal of quality as a “generation game”. The club offers around ten to twelve appointments per month for joint, cross-generational play. The commitment of the members of the association has now been honored with the special start social award.
The social pedagogue Petra Fuchs is the first chairwoman of the association. It was also she who dealt with the playful topic during her studies. From a small playgroup, the project has developed through a study project to what it is today: a club that offers game days across generations. The idea is so well received that the organizers had no problems implementing their ideas of a “game get-together”: “We hit the nerve of the times,” says Petra Fuchs happily. After a short time, the concept had matured to such an extent that the mayor, city and district could be brought on board. The club's chairman can date the hour of birth of the idea: July 17, 2017. The club was founded less than four months later, and since then people have been playing together across all age groups. “We had a good number of people,” said Fuchs about the start. That helped and led to the fact that in the following year they were invited to game meetings several times a month. "We are now on - if it is not Corona - ten to twelve opening days".
The Chancellor's special award came as a surprise
With the games café, the club members applied to the “Startsocial” initiative for the second time, this time it worked and that came as a surprise. For the association, the focus was not primarily on the prize money, but on the know-how. “We were mainly concerned with coaching,” explains Petra Fuchs. 100 initiatives were selected from all applications, and these received professional support over a period of four months. “Young and old plays” had already used it last year, this time the prize was more or less an additional candy. “We were hoping to get into the top seven,” says the club's chairwoman, and for this they have prepared well, written the required project plan and written a final report. Last year the club was among the “best 25”, and now they even made it to the special price. “For us that was something like reaching for the stars”, says Petra Fuchs happily, “that was a long way off for us”.
To win the high prize as a board game initiative is a clear signal. Where other organizations that are involved in third world countries are awarded prizes, a small institution from the Rottal-Inn district has now managed to convince with its playful idea. "We see our association as very valuable," said Fuchs about the thoughts of the members themselves about their association. “But it wasn't clear to us that this would also be recognized from the outside”. The profit is still barely comprehensible, but slowly realizing what has happened. “It is an appreciation for the work of our association”, says Petra Fuchs happily. At the same time, the award is also an appreciation for the subject of play.
Corona is not leaving the Jung und Altspiele eV (Young and Old Playing Association) as an association that primarily relies on on-site meetings without a trace. The meeting place in Pfarrkirchen had to be closed. "We want to rely on digitization as a transition," explains Fuchs about the plans. A concept is to be implemented by the end of the year: roll-and-write via video conference, pen-and-paper via Discord or game rounds on tabletopia are three starting points for making cross-generational and now cross-location games possible. There is also planning for training in dealing with the programs. A corresponding application for funding is therefore also in preparation, one is hoping for approval.
A central goal: young and old plays especially want to reach senior citizens. There are still “offline games”, but then via a rental concept. "We motivate people to pick up a game and then play with the families." The digital offer should then be used to reach people who are alone at home.
According to Petra Fuchs, the prize money of 5.000 euros will be used for the association's work with children, young people and senior citizens, with a focus on the digitization plan. The “fans of the club” are now becoming active themselves. So the young people met by video conference to “paint miniatures”. They also want to cover costs for the educational staff, and the financial blessing also benefits research or the seal of the “generation game”. At the end of the day, the total amount is broken down into many areas of the club, which shows how committed the young and old play eV is in the end.
In the end, this award is more than just an award ceremony for an association. There is a message behind this. It reads: board games have arrived in the middle of society and are perceived as an asset worth promoting. The status of board games as a cultural asset was strengthened by the award of the special prize to a games association to a degree that has rarely been seen in the recent past.
It is not the first time that the Chancellor has expressed benevolence towards games. Already on the Gamescom 2017 praised Merkel computer games, especially with regard to the educational potential that lies dormant in them.
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