UPSHIFT Gyumri – expanding access to the IT sector for young people with and without disabilities
With the funding of the European Union, UNICEF empowers 70 young people to explore web programming, branding, and project management.
From 26 to 27 August, UNICEF, with funding from the European Union, and in partnership with Enterprise Incubator Foundation, Gyumri Technology Center and Caritas-Aregak Foundation held the UPSHIFT Gyumri Bootcamp to support 10 teams of young people to develop their IT ideas into projects.
Over 70 adolescents and young people with and without disabilities, 12-24, from Shirak region came together at the Gyumri Technology Center to benefit from a group of seasoned trainers and mentors who supported them to bring their ideas to fruition. From April to December 2021, each team will tackle a community issue, aiming to improve the life in their immediate community in an inclusive way. They will learn about web programming, project management, quality assurance, branding, and other topics and put it all to practice through their projects. In addition, they will also have the opportunity to intern with an IT company to learn first-hand about the sector and prepare themselves for the labor market.
“The essence of UPSHIFT Gyumri is to develop and empower young people. Our goal is not only to provide participants with 21st-century technology and soft skills, but to also enable them to work with local businesses and accumulate some work experience through internship. UPSHIFT Gyumri follows UNICEF values of inclusion, equal opportunities, diversity and non-discrimination, and ensuring children’s and young people’s participation in matters that concern them.”
“We had no issues with interest to participate in UPSHIFT among young people. Many of them had heard of UPSHIFT Gyumri back in 2019, so we had a lot of applications when we announced. This time we decided to focus on the development of technological skills, emphasizing the participation of adolescents with disabilities. Due to this content and approach, it will be longer too.”
Time to meet our 10 teams!
1․ Bookcase, Artyom Hovhannisyan, 17 years old
“We have decided to create an eco-bookcase. It will be made of recycled plastic. In our library, the reader will find books that are not available in libraries, works by different authors and of different genres. The bookcase will have a website, a media platform, where after registering the relevant data, the reader will know when they will be able to borrow the book and when to return it. At first, we will place it in libraries, then we will move it around town and users will be able to find it through the use of QR codes.”
2․ GHG, Bagrat Atoyan, 17 years old
“Everyone is familiar with the difficulties encountered due to COVID-19, especially with the lines in hospitals and polyclinics. We are developing a website to make life easier for citizens. By the way, our website will be accessible for persons with disabilities. We will create appropriate application, registration and awareness tools. The site will include all the hospitals, polyclinics, doctors and their timetables in Gyumri. Users will have the opportunity to apply online, register and receive services without waiting in line. The site will also have an ambulance call button.”
3․ Lighthouse, Ani Sargsyan, 18 years old
“This is my first experience; I have never participated in any kind of program like this. I am very happy to have this opportunity to be involved and useful in community life. Our website is for tourists or people who come to Gyumri with an employment contract. It will have a database of apartments for rent, which will make life easier for visitors, as hotels are usually not fit for long-term stays. In this way, individuals, who have a spare apartment to rent, win and the customer wins too. As a result, Gyumri wins. The site will be accessible to persons with disabilities. In the future, we will also add transportation vehicles to our database, as well as horse and carriage service, which Gyumri is famous for.”
4․ Ecolution, Narek Khachatryan, 16 years old
“Our project is aimed at recycling waste. We will create a map where we will include all the addresses of sorted garbage collection points in Gyumri. It will be accessible to persons with disabilities so that everyone can be helpful and participate in our amazing project. We will have an animated video about the mission of the project, a map with a QR code, which will record all the points where we will collect sorted garbage. By the way, let me mention our QR codes will made of threads from recycled garbage.”
5․Khorata, Davit Sahakyan, 17 years old
“Khorata means “to talk” in the Gyumri dialect. We will create a YouTube page entitled “Khorata” where we will launch a youth program and introduce the talented young people of Gyumri. We live in a city of arts and crafts, and there are many talented people here. We will target especially those who are not well known. Our program will be different for several reasons: first, we will have provocative, unexpected questions for our guests, and we will create unpredictable situations for them. Secondly, each participant will challenge the guest to participate in the next program, which will have a charitable, humanitarian component. In the future, we will also create a website where we will provide information about ourselves, full episodes, donation page and other features.”
6․ Dzo Logo, Eduard Vardanyan, 17 years old
“Why Dzo logo? We are from Gyumri and referring to each other as “dzo” is quite common in Gyumri. And why “logo?” Because our website will present logos to its beneficiaries. There will be free and paid versions. We will support all new startups with our project, providing logos and icon offers, and later websites as well. Our site can be used by everyone, it will be accessible to everyone, including beneficiaries with disabilities. Our group will be joined by animators, designers, and all the gaps we have now will be filled by them. So we hope to support startups with a logo without spending a dime.”
7․ Spirit of Gyumri, Ara Manukyan, 16 years old
“The goal of our project is to talk about Gyumri, our motto is ‘Shine up Gyumri’, and our logo is based on one of the typical vintage doors that you can find in Gyumri. Many visitors to our city do not know what Gyumri looked like years ago, at least before the 1988 earthquake, or what the existing buildings used to look like. We will collect 3D animated versions of various old buildings and old streets on our website. By the way, to ensure the accessibility of the site, we will also include audio stories. In the near future, we also plan to organize an interesting exhibition of QR codes that would link the buildings to stories and promote our project.”
8․ Arvestot, Liliana Grigoryan, 16 years old
“On our digital platform, we will present the art and artists of Gyumri. Users will find the works and creations of famous and unknown artists on our website in various formats, including animations. We will also include information about Gyumri museums, galleries and upcoming exhibition sales on our site. We already have an agreement with the Aslamazyan Sisters Museum to get started!”
9․ ONSL, Vladimir Mkrtchyan 13 years old
“Our team is interested in the field of online education. The goal is to create a website that will promote and encourage self-education. Our motto is “Resources from us, learning from you.” Our target group is schoolchildren. We want to leave QR codes in textbooks, through which they will access our website and find the information that they are looking for. We plan to collect relevant and free educational resources on the site, including good resources in foreign languages.”
10․ Volunteers Everywhere, Styopa Hovhannisyan, 15 years old
“Our project is to help people. People who create something and need professional support are faced with the fact that this support is either scarce or expensive. We will gather a database of multidisciplinary volunteers on our website. Through our platform, any startup representative will be able to cooperate with the specialists registered on the site and receive appropriate professional support to develop and complete his or her project.”
Stay tuned for more about these inspiring young people of Gyumri and let’s wish each team the best of luck with their project!
This story was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Future Today project and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.