The board game club "Young and Old Plays" has won the special prize worth 5.000 euros at the nationwide Startsocial 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, within the framework of "Startsocial", actions and organizations that are particularly committed have been awarded. The nationwide competition, which has been held under the patronage of Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel stands, social project work should be promoted.
Startsocial: “Board games” win for the first time
The fact that the games café of the young and old plays generations has received an award this year is a small sensation. It is the first project from the games sector to receive the 5.000 euro prize. Projects such as “Mobile Retter”, “Social Heroes”, but also various cultural support programs were among the prizewinners.
"In the new round of the competition, we saw how imaginative and diverse social commitment can be," said Chancellor Angela Merkel in her message. "Even the corona pandemic hasn't changed that." On the contrary, even or especially in difficult times, many people in Germany were very helpful and open to each other, 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 a togetherness - and that in a comparatively short time. Although the association "Jung und Altspiele" has long established itself as a permanent fixture in the scene, the non-profit organization was only founded at the end of 2017. Former soccer professional Jens Nowotny acts as godfather. There is a solid concept behind the club idea. Parlor games are now awarded a specially created seal of quality as a "generational game". The association offers around ten to twelve dates per month for joint, cross-generational games. The commitment of the association members has now been honored with the Startsocial special prize.
The social pedagogue Petra Fuchs leads the association as the first chairwoman. It was also she who dealt with the topic of play during her studies. From a small play group, the project has developed into what it is today: a club that offers cross-generational play days. The idea was so well received that the organizers had no difficulty in implementing their idea of a "game meeting": "We caught the spirit 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 chairman of the club can date the birth of the idea exactly: July 17, 2017. The club was founded less than four months later, and since then all age groups have been playing together. "We had a good influx," explains Fuchs about the start. That helped and led to invitations to play meetings several times a month in the following year. "Meanwhile we are - if it's not Corona - ten to twelve opening days".
The Chancellor's special award came as a surprise
With the games café, the club members have applied to the “Startsocial” initiative for the second time, this time it worked and that came as a surprise. For the club, the priority was not the prize money, but the know-how. "For us it was all about the coaching," explains Petra Fuchs. 100 initiatives were selected from all applications, which then received professional support over a period of four months. "Young and old plays" had already used this last year, this time the prize was more or less an additional treat. "We hoped to make it into the top seven," says the club's chairman, and for that we've prepared well, written the required project plan and drawn up a final report. Last year, the club was among the “best 25”, and now it has even managed to win a special prize. "For us, that was something like reaching for the stars," says Petra Fuchs happily, "that was far away for us".
Winning the high price as a board game initiative is a clear signal. Where otherwise, among other things, organizations that are involved in Third World countries are awarded, a small institution from the Rottal-Inn district has now managed to convince with its playful idea. "We see our club as very valuable," says Fuchs about the thoughts of the members themselves about their club. "But it wasn't clear to us that this would also be recognized from the outside." The win is still hard to comprehend, but you're slowly realizing what 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 topic of games.
Corona has left its mark on the young and old plays eV as an association that primarily relies on on-site meetings. The meeting place in Pfarrkirchen had to be closed. "We want to focus 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 gaming possible. There are also plans for training courses on how to use the programs. A corresponding application for funding is therefore also in preparation, one hopes for approval.
A central goal: young and old plays wants to reach senior citizens in particular. "Offline games" are still available, but then via a rental concept. "We motivate people to pick up a game and then play with their families." The digital offer should then reach people who sit alone at home.
According to Petra Fuchs, the prize money of 5.000 euros will go into the association's work with children, young people and senior citizens, and there will also be a focus on the digitization plan. The "fans of the club" are now becoming active themselves. The young people met via video conference to “paint miniatures”. They also want to cover the costs of the pedagogical staff, and the windfall will also benefit research or the “Generational Game” seal. In the end, the total sum flows into many areas of the association, which shows how committed the young and old plays eV ultimately is.
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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