HanseMerkur awards child protection prize in its 40th year

“Comprehensive child and youth protection is more important than ever: Because Corona has often made young people and their need invisible”

Hamburg, December 9th, 2021. The HanseMerkur prize for child protection will be awarded for the 40th time today. The award of the six winners of the anniversary year will not take place at a festive event in Hamburg due to the Corona . Instead, the prizes were presented in the form of local awards ceremonies at the local initiatives. The resulting film, the virtual award ceremony, can be viewed from 10:00 a.m. at http://hansemerkur.csr-engagement.de/kinderschutzpreis-2020 in the HanseMerkur CSR blog. The entertaining contribution shows the award ceremonies that have taken place in Hamburg, Baden-Württemberg, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony in the past few weeks in small groups as 2G-Plus events. At the same time, he takes the viewer on a cinematic journey through four decades of commitment to child protection. With Bernd Siggelkow, founder of DIE ARCHE eV, Sabine Böhm from the Association of Youth Farms and Active Playgrounds, Adelheid Gottwald (Paulinchen eV, Help for Burned Children) and Eckhard Baumann (Straßenkinder eV), various award winners from the very beginning have their say, that make themselves strong for children and young people, in a way that is as impressive as it is diverse.

As patron, this year’s gold medalist in canoeing at the Paralympics in Tokyo, Edina Müller, expresses her appreciation and thanks to the award-winning initiatives. Heinz Hilgers, President of the Child Protection Association and long-standing jury member, gives the laudatory speeches. Eberhard Sautter, CEO of HanseMerkur, emphasized on the occasion of the award of the oldest German social award for outstanding child and youth protection work: “Comprehensive child and youth protection is currently more important than ever before. Because Corona often makes young people and their need invisible. The pandemic has exacerbated the situation of children who grow up in stressful or dangerous living conditions in many areas. At the same time, helpers often had to be very flexible and find new ways to continue their valuable work despite the restrictions. It is all the more important to draw public attention to the problem areas to which they are devoted. Our goal is to make the award-winning initiatives heard and to support their social commitment. That is why HanseMerkur has decided to expand its commitment in the anniversary year and is offering a total of six prizes for the first time. “

This year, the HanseMerkur Prize for Child Protection is endowed with 80,000 euros. Since its inception, prize money totaling 1.4 million euros has been distributed, supporting 169 projects. The awards for 2020 go to six initiatives from Dresden, Freiburg, Hamburg, Remscheid and Solingen.

Two projects receive one of the main prizes endowed with 20,000 euros:

1. When children are victims of sexual abuse and physical abuse, the consequences go well beyond the acute injuries. The experience shapes their growth, shapes their entire life. The Ärztliche Kinderschutzambulanz Bergisch Land e.V. on the premises of the Sana Clinic in Remscheid looks after around 400 affected young people per year. Therapists, doctors, neurologists and lawyers are involved in the project “Diagnostics and therapy for children and adolescents who have been victims of severe violence, neglect and sexual abuse”. They care for malnourished and neglected children, treat fractures, burns or the consequences of strangulations, they see anal or genital injuries – and the psychological consequences of abuse. The aim is to use various methods, from individual diagnostics to observation of interaction to psychodiagnostic tests, to identify what has happened to the children, how stressed they are and how they can be helped with the inclusion of their family environment.

2. Medical care is still not guaranteed for everyone in Germany: The number of people who have no health insurance cover and no means to pay for treatment themselves is estimated at around 1.5 million. Among them were countless children who came to Germany as refugees or who fell out of the system due to a family emergency. For more than seven years, those affected have been finding help from experienced doctors in various fields at Praxis ohne Grenzen (PoG), a polyclinic in Hamburg that opens its doors once a week. As part of the “children’s consultation hour in the PoG”, they then treat an average of 15 children, free of charge and anonymously if desired. The civil society commitment of the teams at Praxis ohne Grenzen goes beyond medical treatment: Volunteers support people who come to the practice with acute problems, applications and the like. Another goal: to bring about a political change and to achieve automatic health insurance protection for all children, regardless of their origin or their current situation.

The four recognition prizes, each endowed with 10,000 euros, go to the following projects:

1. Since 2007 the Kultur Palast foundation has been offering young people a place where they can learn what is more than just dance for them: the “Hip Hop Academy Hamburg” in the Billstedt district offers training programs in the most important disciplines of hip hop culture – Breakdance, graffiti, rap, singing and new style dance. The training is always about respect for other people, religions and skin colors, tolerance and belonging: conveying values ​​and promoting social skills are natural components of the curriculum. The discipline learned here shapes behavior in school and training; success strengthens self-confidence.

2. A child’s cancer is a profound intrusion into family life. The parents often lack the capacity to look after their siblings. To relieve the situation, the Association for Children with Cancer e.V. Freiburg i.Br. Already 40 years ago the first housing options near the university clinic and since then has not only ensured that sick children can be accompanied to a large extent by their parents, but also keeps an eye on the needs of their siblings. In the “Geschwisterspielstube Regenbogen”, social and art therapists look after the children, who are often massively stressed by worrying about their families. With intensive, attentive, caring and situation-related care, it is possible to recognize and deal with your emotional needs in a targeted manner.

3. Around 190,000 children and young people across Germany live in homes or residential groups. You have had traumatic experiences, experienced a lack of security. The facilities provide stability and structure, but can only provide a limited sense of security through staff changes and shift work. When they come of age, this home also disappears. There is seldom a social network or a family that accompanies the step into self-employment – and the so-called Care leavers would need it particularly urgently. The Children’s and Youth Welfare Association in Dresden fills the gap: The “House of Dreams. Care-learning center and care-learning work in Saxony ”is a fixed point of reference for young people with a wide range of offers such as creative courses for leisure time, targeted advisory services and everyday help and accompanies their start in a self-reliant life.

4. The aim of Between The Lines e.V., founded in 2016, is to give young people low-threshold, digital help for self-help in stressful life situations. The young team has developed an app in which local and regional contact points and offers of help, tips on various strands of action in complex crisis situations and encouragement examples from other young people can be found. The spectrum of topics ranges from problems within the family to bullying situations and stress in school to drug problems. Developed by young people for young people, thanks to this approach, the offer meets the needs of the target group. So far, the app has been available in individual regions, but the nationwide expansion of the project, which creates a central database for all youth welfare organizations, is making progress.

The history of the HanseMerkur Prize for Child Protection

In 1979, the UN Year of the Child, HanseMerkur carried out a study with Prof. Dr. Hedwig Wallis, director of the psychosomatic department at the Hamburg University Children’s Clinic, who proved that the accompanying mother is crucial for accelerating the recovery process and for preventing psychological damage when children are inpatient. A year later, this knowledge led to the “mother-and-child tariff”, with which HanseMerkur was the first private health insurer to insure rooming-in. At the same time, the HanseMerkur Prize for Child Protection was advertised for the first time in 1980 under the motto “Care for children is provision for the future”.

The award is given to individuals, private initiatives and groups in Germany who are largely voluntary and highly committed and who work in an exemplary manner for the interests of children and young people. This can be done in the field of psycho-social, medical or social help or prevention. A ten-member jury made up of renowned child protection activists, including Heinz Hilgers (Der Kinderschutzbund), Georg Graf Waldersee (German Committee for UNICEF) and Prof. Dr. Sabine Walper (German League for the Child) ensures the transfer of know-how and quality control in the annual selection of excellent initiatives in the field of child and youth protection. Around 3,700 projects have applied since 1980. So far 169 projects have been awarded, which corresponds to the distribution of prize money of almost 1.4 million euros.