echo interview with Barbara Schmid-Federer, President of Pro Juventute and former CVP National Councillor
elipsLife echo: Recently, Pro Juventute seems to have disappeared from the public eye. Does this have to do with not selling postage stamps any more or are there other reasons?
Barbara Schmid-Federer: I can’t let this assertion go unchallenged. Pro Juventute was founded in 1912 with the aim of fighting child tuberculosis. Back then, selling postage stamps was a way of financing the building of clinics. Nowadays, selling stamps is only of minor financial significance. So compared to 30 years ago, there are indeed far fewer children engaged in this activity for Pro Juventute. But what we are doing is addressing some of the needs of children and young people in very targeted ways. Here, we’re indeed very well-known and in the public eye. Moreover, with the opening of five new regional offices, Pro Juventute will again be establishing a stronger presence across wider areas.
What does Pro Juventute do for kids and families today?
Our most well-known activity is undoubtedly the provision of a central counselling service for children and young people, called “+Hilfe 147.“ On average, 350 children per day seek help from this service. These are often kids with with serious personal problems and even with suicidal intentions. In recent years, Pro Juventute has opened new counselling channels such as a chat room where young people can counsel their peers. We want continue down this path and reach more kids and young people via digital channels. Pro Juventute also sends out newsletters to parents with practical tips on how to deal with babies and toddlers. Numerous first-time parents in Switzerland receive these newsletters and value them highly.
How many projects is Pro Juventute running and how many children are benefiting from them?
Around 265,000 children and young people as well as 100,000 parents use our services annually. We have five strategic priorities. These are physical health, participation, early childhood, media competence and the transition from school to professional life. We’re running at least five projects for each priority. We have a broadly-based offering, ranging from vacation packages for kids, to educational courses in media and financial competence. When I was still active in politics, by the way, media competence was my personal area of focus. Back in 2008/2009, together with Pro Juventute, I brought the topic of young people’s use of the internet and the associated risks to the attention of the National Council.