From a video by UNICEF
Upshift, a UNICEF innovation programme, started its journey in Kosovo in 2014 and is now in 22 different countries, but more importantly, it is impacting the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people.
It starts with a local call for self-starting groups of young people between 13 and 18 to come forward with ideas about how they'd like to harness innovation to address social problems within their community. The 10 best ideas are selected by a panel of private and public sector leaders.
Teams connected to those ideas are given a mentor and invited to a design thinking workshop in which they hone and develop their ideas. After 3 days of workshop, the 5 best teams are selected and given a small fund of approximately £1500 to implement their idea.
The call is open to young people from all backgrounds. However, there is a special effort taken to attract young people who are affected by poverty by exclusion and by adversity.
Some of the ideas that have come up as a result of Upshift have been; an app to address eating disorders amongst adolescents, design of special furniture so children with disability can be better included in the classroom and a festival of tolerance in a deeply multi-ethnic and polarized community.
But it's not necessarily the ideas themselves but rather the process that is game-changing in terms of the way that young people see themselves and the way that their community sees their potential.
It is also very important in terms of adolescent brain development. Research is showing that adolescence is perhaps the second most important period of brain development or rather brain reorganization on the path to adulthood. It is very much characterised by emotional spark, social engagement, novelty seeking and creative exploration. Evidence-based interventions on adolescents show that best life outcomes are secured by by having more of an emphasis on social and emotional development of the brain. Developing
things like optimism, perseverance, integrity, growth mindset and an ethos of public service.
Research tells us that the things that motivate young people are a sense of belonging or attachment to a group, a sense of autonomy, an ability to express freely and a sense of
competence - that by learning and by working through challenges your knowledge will improve, you will improve and the things that you learn are relevant to you.
Governments are increasingly interested in answering the challenge of how do they build a competitive, innovative and entrepreneurial workforce who are also socially conscious and civically engaged. Upshift also appeals to corporations and it appeals to those people who are trying to direct young people - diverting them away from a life of crime or a life of risk.
Watch this 5 minute video:
See a blog about Learn to Lead - which is a similar programme in the UK.
Could this be a youthwork programme? Benefits for youth, community and connecting with church.
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