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European Youth Portal

Information and opportunities for young people across Europe.


AFS-De Appeltuin

EVS Accreditation Details
EVS accreditation type
EVS accreditation expiry date 01/10/2016
Location Leuven, Belgium
Organisation topics
Inclusion topics

EVS accreditation number


For more information about volunteering and European Voluntary Service in particular, visit the Voluntary Activities section of this website.

Please note, information about organisations and projects is only available in English.
Project Environment

Outline the project environment for the suggested voluntary Service, including the local community where the project will take place (e.g. geographical, social and economical environment). If the host placement is located in a live-in community, please include the rules and conditions that apply also for the volunteer.

De Appeltuin is a primary school which works according to Freinet principles. It is part of the ‘Gemeenschapsonderwijs’ (Community School), one of the biggest school networks in Flanders. It has as a pedagogic project a pluralistic basis. Its aim is the total development of a person, with attention for the optimal development for each child personally. The school has a democratic structure, with an active involvement of the parents of the children. The school is located in the centre of Leuven, at 15 min. walk from the train station.
Leuven is one of the most popular cities in Flanders for students. It is one of the oldest university cities of Belgium and has a wide range of cultural and social activities. Students from all over Belgium and Europe live here during the academic year. Leuven has a very rich history and posseses a lot of nice historical buildings and sites. Leuven has a small centre but counts several parts, which are nearby and are more quiet and green. It counts about 90.000 inhabitants.

Proposed activities for EVS volunteers:
Please explain:
• what you can offer to volunteers in terms of Service and learning opportunities,
• what will be the role of EVS volunteers in the Host Organisation,
• the activities in which the volunteers could be involved and the activities the volunteers could create in your organisation. Please give examples of typical activities/tasks for the volunteers.

The volunteer will be as an extra in the team of the teachers of the school. She/he will get the opportunity to assist in mostly 1 classroom (but some others) and to get a close look on the educational tools and methods of a ‘Freinetschool’. The principles of the Freinet-philosophy are related to ‘non-formal education’ and ‘experimental learning’. This means that the children have to work on a variety of projects with different themes. A lot of educational and practical guidance of the teachers is needed. Therefore it is an opportunity to have a volunteer next to the teachers who can help in these extra activities.

The tasks of the volunteer will evolve from practical help in the classroom to the setting up of a specific project. The velocity of this evolution will depend on the growing language and practical skills of the volunteer. Together with a teacher the volunteer will be responsible for the follow up of a whole class group. Working with the children, to help them with their tasks, doing creative assistance (music, theatre, dance ….)

The volunteer will

- Assist in mainly one classroom (with children from 8-10 years old). This can be individual guidance of children who can not follow the lessons as good as the others. It can also be to assist when the teacher is using a method where they need assistance, for example when they want to do an educational game to teach them something; then the volunteer can help in preparing this and guide it. It can also be to help with the classes when they are drawing, making something creative, or doing work-shops, such as drama and theatre or teaching them new songs. (30%)

- Take part in out-door activities with these children: go swimming with them, excursions, thematical workshops, cultural events, etc. For example, going to the forest in autumn to learn about this season, going to a museum and they have interactive work-shops, going to a theatre or a movie and later in class having a de-briefing about it, going to the seaside and learn about the typical vegetation there, going for a week somewhere together… (25%)

- Will organise own activities and workshops, depending on the interests of the volunteer. For example, to set up a project about her home country, to teach the children about the differences and similarities between cultures. A lot of time of the volunteer’s work will go to this aspect. (25%)

- Will help in other classgroups when needed: 20%

The volunteer will do voluntarily work for 4 days a week from 9AM until 4h30PM. At noon there is a 1 hour break for lunch.
In the morning there is a moment with the children to reflect and talk. That’s also the moment to teach mathematics and language courses, including doing exercises. In the afternoon the focus lays on projects and research. The children have the opportunity to learn how to plan their own activities . Every day there will be a project where the children can work on individually or within the group.

School-holidays are free. Obviously, the summer holiday the school is closed, but we strongly wish to offer the volunteer ongoing activities that are linked to the tasks that s/he will have done during the school year. De Appeltuin supports this and provided us with useful contacts. A lot of children that attend the school visit “Speelpleinwerking” during summer. This is a common setting in flanders, where children can attend holiday activities under the supervision of experienced monitors. Activities include outside group games, art work shops, spending time in the play ground, games, … At this stage, we don’t have a concrete practical outline of tha tasks of the volunteer during summer, but we started negotiating with “Speelpleinwerking De Pit” and “Speelpleinwerking Groene Zone”. We are confidend that an effective cooperation will result from this in the next weeks.
The volunteer will get 2 days off each month. The volunteer needs to inform the project about the exact dates that he/she would like to take off. He/she should also take in account the dates of special activities of the project .
The coordinating host organisation AFS will organise a host family stay and language courses. The volunteer will receive 30 hours of Dutch lesson spread over the 8 or 10 first weeks of the project.

Volunteer profiles and recruitment process:
Please describe the profiles of volunteers you would like to receive in your organisation. Include information on how you ensure an open and transparent recruitment process as well as the overall accessibility of EVS to all young people. Consider further information about the type of Sending Organisation you want to cooperate with. This information can help the match-making between volunteer candidates, Sending Organisations and your organisation.
AFS, the coordinating host organisation, strongly believes in the intercultural learning aspect of an EVS-experience. Therefore, the volunteer will be living with a volunteer host family, as we believe this is the best introduction to Flemish culture and a great opportunity to integrate in the local community. Candidates should be willing to share in the host family's daily life (spend some free time with them, occasionally join the family on activities outside the house, eat together, give a helping hand in the household... ) and should be motivated to live with and learn about Flemish people of different ages and opinions. They should also be willing to adapt to the local eating habits. On the other hand, we guarantee a family that is interested to learn about your culture and background and that respects your values and beliefs. Living in a host family is an excellent opportunity for both the participant and the family to broaden their cultural horizons! Our sending partners will emphasize this host family stay reality to all potential volunteers. The sending partners will ask all candidates who already know they prefer to live independently, to refrain from applying for this project.

For De Appeltuin motivation and interest in the themes the project is working with, namely education and children, is the biggest criteria. The learning-possibilities of the volunteer are also important.Since it is needed in the work with children, the volunteer needs to like to work with children and should have interest in pedagogical methods.

Number of volunteers hosted:
Please state the maximum number of volunteers your organisation is able to host at the same time (ensuring all quality, learning, and welfare standards of EVS for each volunteer): 1

Risk prevention, protection and safety:
Please describe:
• how you will guarantee a safe living and working environment for the EVS volunteers,
• how you will prevent risks and crises,
• how – in the case of EVS volunteers aged 16 or 17 – you ensure appropriate supervision, protection and safety.
The project will assign a personal mentor / contact person to the participant, so he/she can always ask this person for help or guidance.
AFS, as coordinating host organisation will give every project and every participant a local contact person, that will stay in contact and will regularly ask for an evaluation to improve the situation for all parties. In case of emergency, AFS has an emergency-mobile phone, which can be reached 24/24h.

Motivation and EVS experience

The school sees project education as the important working method. Having an EVS volunteer could in this context be a perfect challenge for everyone involved to apply this form of non formal education. The presence and cooperation of a foreign volunteer can mean a serious surplus value in our school. One of our goals is to form our children to be active citizens with respect for every other human being and for other cultures. Also this fits the aim of EVS.
De Appeltuin has been hosting EVS volunteers since 1997.

Description of the organisation

AFS is an international, voluntary, non profit organisation that provides intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more peaceful world. AFS does this through several exchange programs, like EVS.
AFS works in cooperation with several AFS partners in more than 50 countries world wide. On a European level we are represented by the European federation for Intercultural Learning.
The organisation where the EVS activities will take place is called De Appeltuin. We choose to cooperate with the goal of establishing more intercultural understanding and active citizenship in societies.
De Appeltuin is one of the 40 Freinet Schools in Flanders. The Freinet Pedagogical concept is part of the larger pedagogical project of Community Education in Flanders. De Appeltuin is a kindergarten and primary school.
The aims of the school are:
- to have a constant attention for natural learning, based on the experiences and world of interest of the child, keeping in mind the established development goals and school terms.
- To work together, based on cooperative and democratic consultation instead of one sided authority. Children are one of the three stakeholder groups in our school. This way, we want to stimulate independency in children.
- To experiment and learn-by-doing instead of applying rules and regulations, because the learning effect is much larger when a child can convert self-discovered material into new relations.
- To work usefully and functionally. Working useless in a school leads to following without thinking and a lack of satisfaction.
The groups of children are structured in a way that there are always 2 age groups together. This stimulates that older children learn from the younger ones and the other way around.
There is a lot a thematic approach – so called projects – especially in the kindergarten. Their kids can explore together different themes that are of interest in their world. In primary school, these projects are larger and more elaborated in time and space. The learning area of ‘world orientation’ is treated in these projects.
De Appeltuin has a staff team of 23 people, which includes kindergarten teachers, primary school teachers, pedagogical support team, after care, administrative staff, coordinator,…
Another important factor in this school is the involvement of parents and thematic working groups within school the education of the children. This can be in the classroom (projects, practical work,..), class responsible, working groups in the school (reading support, logistics, music, communication,..).

Contact details
Please note, the selected organisation cooperates with a different EVS organisation to handle enquiries on its behalf.
Organisation name AFS interculturele Programma’s
Street Hendrik Consciencestraat 52
Postal code 2800
Town/city Mechelen
Country Belgium
Email address evs-belgiumflanders@afs.org
Website www.appeltuin.be
Telephone number + 32 15 79 50 10
Fax number + 32 15 79 50 11

Last update: 08/10/2013