Joy in the eyes of children is the greatest motivation

The “All Children Have Potential” initiative aims to provide support to students at Wesel Elementary School who come from socially disadvantaged backgrounds in order to create equal opportunities. One of the mentors involved in this project is Alexandra Linden. She derives great motivation from witnessing the joy in the eyes of these children.

The Rhine, Germany’s longest river, has a profound influence on the landscape of the region, including Wesel. Stretching 1,232.7 kilometers throughout Europe, it plays a vital role in shaping the surroundings. A supporter of the “All Children Have Potential” initiative was taken aback when her mentee revealed that he had never seen the Rhine before. Together, they embarked on a journey, not only to witness the flowing waters but also to discuss the river’s significance in terms of navigation, its role as a recreational area, and its importance as a habitat for numerous animal species. 

This example illustrates the significance of the education project for numerous elementary school children. Primarily, its purpose is to provide essential support to disadvantaged elementary school students and help ensure equal opportunities for children with migration and socially disadvantaged backgrounds. This initiative operates through a collaborative effort between the city of Wesel, the Gemeinschaftsgrundschule Innenstadt, the Akademie Klausenhof, and ALTANA AG. Since the initiative was launched ten years ago, the specialty chemicals group has financed a socio-educational specialist at the Akademie Klausenhof who recruits and supports sponsors and coordinates their voluntary work.

“It's a cause dear to my heart to aid children.”

Alexandra Linden, who has been working in the laboratory at BYK for 20 years, is a new mentor. “I’d wanted to get more involved in a social project for some time now. First, I looked for a project that promotes and arouses an interest in reading at an early age. And I found one, at a school in Voerde,” says Linden. Then she became aware of the “All Children Have Potential" project. “It quickly became evident to me that this is a fantastic initiative that I wholeheartedly want to support. Now, I’m engaged in both projects because it is a cause dear to my heart to aid children in their early educational journey.”

The primary objective of this project is to provide dedicated support to elementary school children, starting from the second grade, to aid in their personal development. A key factor for the project’s success lies in giving undivided attention to each child. Hildegard Derksen, the project manager at the Akademie Klausenhof, has noted that both children and volunteers derive immense satisfaction from the project. She says, “We’ve observed that as the mentoring progresses, children gain increased self-confidence and self-esteem, and they genuinely relish the exchange. Additionally, the children's smiles serve as an added motivation for the mentors involved.”  

Alexandra Linden has already had this experience: “In this project, I'm not only contributing something, but I'm also receiving something valuable in return, which is the children’s joy. Collaborating with the children to come up with creative ideas for our next activities is especially enjoyable.
I wholeheartedly recommend that everyone get involved in the project.”

An increased need and demand

Since the project’s inception in 2014, 64 children have already benefited significantly from the intensive support it offers. The dedication of sponsors plays a pivotal role in ensuring equal opportunities for these children. There are currently 16 volunteers who provide personalized support and encouragement to the young boys and girls based on their individual abilities. However, the need for assistance surpasses the current capacity. Some volunteers are even mentoring two children. Hildegard Derksen notes, “Over the past few years, we’ve observed a significant increase in demand. That’s why we are constantly seeking new volunteers who are eager to contribute to the project.”

Promoting equal opportunities as a team

No one should have concerns about embarking on the volunteer work unprepared. New mentors joining the initiative undergo training and receive support right from the beginning. It’s only after this training that parents, children, and volunteers get the chance to know each other. Alexandra Linden says from her own experience, “I was exceptionally well-prepared for my role as a mentor. Hildegard Derksen and I engaged in open discussions about potential challenges during the preparatory talks, and I received invaluable tips and assistance.” On average, Alexandra spends between one to three hours a week with her mentee. She notes, “We’ve already explored places like Auesee lake in Wesel and visited museums.” In these activities, it's crucial to cater to the child’s needs and desires. For Alexandra Linden this means, “I even put a child seat in my car again.”

And if there are ever any questions during the mentoring, someone is there to help. Because what is just as important to the project as spending time with the children is that all the mentors also feel comfortable and become a real team. “Everyone really enjoys working together. This is also reflected in the fact that we always plan and offer joint activities with the children,” says Derksen.

Volunteer now

You too can support the "All Children Have Potential” project. Project coordinator Hildegard Derksen is available to address any inquiries from prospective mentors. You can reach her by phone at 0176/15847340 or via email at Your involvement and support can make a significant difference in the lives of these children.