23 July 2016

Creating to Change Lives of Children with Disabilities

From June 3rd to 5 th  2016, 7 teams consisting of  over 70 young people including designers, engineers, artisans, medical professionals and children with disabilities gathered on the campus of the Vietnam-German University (VGU) in Binh Duong, Vietnam to contribute to a better world. For 72 hours these youth participated in the inaugural  T.O.M:…, What’s TOM got to do with it?, Children with disabilities are among the most vulnerable and marginalized in Viet Nam. According to official statistics about 85% of Children with disabilities do not complete primary school and just one in five children with disabilities use special aids and devices. T.O.M, which stands for  Tikkun Olam Makers , is an initiative borne out of the…, PARTNERSHIPS, Bringing together 7 teams consisting of need knowers, students, and professionals, providing them with appropriate resources and guidance and keeping them nourished and motivated for 72 hours is no small feat, and it doesn’t happen without strong partnerships. The execution of the inaugural event included a multi-stakeholder approach, with…, It takes more than 72 hours from Design to Reality, Teams were initially gathered to meet each other and start the design process on May 8 th  in Ho Chi Minh City. There they worked to map out the challenges they faced, started the human-centred design process, and made paper and cardboard prototypes. One young maker observes the 3D printer to make sure it’s working correctly. One young maker…, Adaptations through user feedback, The Need Knowers didn’t arrive on site at VGU until the morning of the 4 th , but the teams worked hard through the night to get the initial products ready to test.  Upon testing, some of the teams realized that they needed to do quite a bit more work, or even start all over again! Others received feedback that the product worked well, but it didn…, Achieving Tikkun Olam, At the final celebration on the evening of June 5 th , the teams presented their products to the need knowers, peers, government officials, and a panel of distinguished judges. While the progress they made in just 72 hours is amazing, many of the products are not ready for everyday use. The teams have made the commitment to continue to move…, Next steps, From the very first meeting of partners, the goal was to spur the creation of a community of Makers doing good, to ensure that Children with Disabilities were included as contributors to the project, and that the end of the event was not the end of the product. While it is too early to say if any of these products will be commercially available,…
23 June 2016

UPSHIFT Vietnam: Impact Through Incubation

In our  last update , we had selected 5 teams to join the UPSHIFT Incubator for 3 months. During incubation teams participated in additional training sessions, received a small seed fund to kick start their project, and ongoing mentorship. They also had the benefit of access to a network of supporters and periodic events through Viet Youth…, THE INCUBATION PHASE (JAN 2016 – APR 2016 & DEMO DAY), The incubation program started with VYE delivering 6 thematic training classes and organizing multiple focused coaching sessions for each team. Many teams integrated the lessons learned into their project and continued to implement their projects independently. At the end of incubation, all teams participated in a career development session and…, Hard Lessons Learned Through Experience, Successfully building a project up from an idea is never easy, especially for young people from difficult situations attempting to do it for the first time. Many of our participants underestimated the amount of effort and time their projects would take. As Nguyen Minh Hai from Team 1 states:“Formerly, I thought that everything is simple. However,…, Harvesting the Fruit of their Labor, Team 1: Developing a job search website for blind people The job search site for the blind that  Tuan Nguyen and his team  had envisioned, is now being developed after 3 months and a lot of challenges. Not only did they have to expand their market research (they surveyed 80 visually impaired youth looking for work), they had to find ways to access…, UPSHIFT: More than a Workshop, Having met the participants during the first days of UPSHIFT, accompanying them through every step along the way of their projects, we organizers – along with their passionate mentors – were happy witnesses of the tremendous growth of the teams. They have achieved so much personal growth in just three months. As an example we remember clearly when…
23 February 2016

UPSHIFT Vietnam: The Journey Continues

Continuing from our  previous update , 10 teams with a total of 31 participants were identified through a judging process from a pool of 93 applications. Out of the 31 participants, 49% of which were youths with disabilities: 10 visually impaired, 4 deaf, and 1 disabled people; 19% came from disadvantaged backgrounds and living in different social…, Creating a support network for participants, Many of our participants in UPSHIFT are encountering the methods of design thinking, lean startup, and basic finance for the very first time. For this reason, it is vital to the program to create a strong and stable supporting network around them. This creates consistent opportunities that are a freely available to them whenever they need support…, Understanding the Problem, While we didn’t quite spend the majority of our time thinking about the problem, the first step of UPSHIFT is to go back to that original problem statement and dig deeper and iteratively refine it using real stakeholder information and further insights. Teams refined their problem in a logical way, such as: a problem tree, stakeholder mapping, and…, Design Challenge, UPSHIFT is a “Problem-centric” curriculum, meaning that teams must first define the problem before they develop a solution. Even though some teams suggested a solution in their applications, the criteria they were judged by was the clarity and impact of their problem. We asked the teams to put off all thoughts of a solution until the Design…, Prototyping and Testing, Moving straight into prototyping our teams had to narrow down their focus and choose one thing to do. With their choice made, they could use 4 different ways to make their idea real: Role play, Story board, Method, and Model. The room was filled with energy.The teams explored many ways to prototype. We had live demonstrations of self defense…, Make It Real, It was time for the teams to take a closer look at their problem and solution to start the process of assessing the financial and operational feasibility of their ideas. Teams had to look at ways of achieving their tasks using non-money, how they would use startup capital, and how to continue their project once initial funding ran out (assuming…, Pitching Potential, After 2+ days of hard work, the teams were ready for the major component of the workshop: the pitch. Each team had 5 minutes to pitch in front of a judging panel and guests, followed by 5 minutes of Q&A. We selected 5 teams for further incubation. UPSHIFT Workshop. UNICEF/Innovations Lab Ho Chi Minh/UPSHIFT Workshop/ Truong Viet Hung UPSHIFT…, Our Teams for Incubation, Team 1: Developing a job search website for blind people UNICEF/Innovations Lab Ho Chi Minh/UPSHIFT Workshop/ Truong Viet Hung Team 1: Developing a job search website for blind people Team in blue, from left to right: Nguyen Minh Hai, La Thi Mai Thu, Dao Van Thom, Nguyen Minh Tuan Team 2: Developing a centre providing consulting services and…, The exciting journey ahead…, These 5 teams have now entered the incubation program during which they will have a total of 3 months to fully execute their pilots and showcase their products or services to an audience of potential supporters. UPSHIFT will continue to support them by providing extended training courses, such as planning and management, proposal writing,…
22 February 2016

An UPSHIFT Journey: From Kosovo to Vietnam

Enter UPSHIFT Social Impact Workshop, In 2014,  Unicef Kosovo Programme ‘s  UNICEF Innovations Lab Kosovo  developed and launched the first UPSHIFT programme ever. UPSHIFT seeks to create youth-led social impact programs by providing them with the necessary skill training, financial resources and mentorship. The Kosovo program achieved some  impressive results : More than 126 youth-…, Why did we bring UPSHIFT to Vietnam?, Nearly 43% of the total population of Vietnam and 45% in Ho Chi Minh City, where UPSHIFT is being piloted, are under the age of 25. With 20 per cent of 12-18 year old children out of school and 85 percent of youth between the ages of 16-30 not having any technical training, the Vietnamese youth population is large yet unskilled. With a strong…, UNICEF partners with VYE for UPSHIFT, In piloting UPSHIFT, a pillar of the larger By Youth For Youth program, it was critical to empower youth people participating in the program as partners and leaders. We partnered with an organization with the mission of “For Students, By Students”. Founded in 2011,  Viet Youth Entrepreneurs , is Vietnam’s first and only student-run organization…, Unpredicted Challenge: Problem vs Solution, A series of UPSHIFT ‘recruitment’ events took place in October 2015 through UNICEF-supported social protection centres and schools for children with disabilities. We set out to reach 500 adolescents and young people, with at least 30 percent of whom are disadvantaged or marginalized in some way. To help participants identify problems in their…, Adapting for the blind: Tactile models, The second challenge presented itself when we conducted our outreach session at the Thien An Shelter for the blind in HCMC. As the crux of our outreach sessions is mind-mapping, a decidedly visual technique, our challenge was to either replace mind-mapping with other activities or to adapt mind-mapping for blind students. We went with the latter…, Expectation and Reality, The goal for the outreach phase was 25 sessions for 500 participants over 6 weeks, 30% of which are disadvantaged, and over 50% to be female. In reality we only had 4 weeks to accomplish this, but through strong collaboration and support we were able to exceed many of our own expectations. We did 25 sessions with 681 youth, 48% were from…, Where do we go from here?, Our next step was to deliver the 2.5 day workshop to these 10 teams. As we worked to adapt the curriculum into the local context (both language and situational), we also worked to ensure that the entrepreneur community would have a role to play in supporting the teams not only at the workshop but also in the long term.   For more information on…
22 February 2016

Tuấn Nguyễn: Building a Jobs Website for the Blind

UPSHIFT has brought new opportunities to Vietnamese youth, specifically those from marginalized communities, to learn skills that they might need to bring about their own social impact projects. To think that the participants are the only ones that have benefited from the program is not entirely true. Those of us at Viet Youth Entrepreneurs (VYE…, The Blind IT Teacher, During this year’s outreach and workshop, we had the chance to meet Tuấn. Tuấn is a member of a project that aims to build a job-seeking website for the blind. Tuấn is a calm and collected person with an incredible sense of humor. He receives everyone’s respect and love at Thiên Ân Shelter for the blind in his role as the IT teacher. Tuấn’s…,  , From a personal perspective to the life experience of a blind person, Tuấn was not born blind. His family has a history of AMD (Age-Related Macular Degeneration), and he could not escape his fate with the condition. When he reached 19 years of age , his eyesight deteriorated significantly causing his loss of vision. At the time, he was a sophomore at University of Agriculture and Forestry and had to quit school…, How did Tuấn overcome his difficulties?, When Tuấn joined Thiên Ân Shelter he started making many friends and had the opportunity to learn about many assistive tools for blind people. Tuấn ultimately regained his motivation to continue studying. This time, Tuấn enrolled at the University of Pedagogy, Tuấn recorded all of his classes and listen to later, search for more materials on the…, How was the idea of a job-seeking website for the blind born?, Since he has lost his sight and experiencing the difficulties of the blind first hand, Tuấn has always wanted to do something about it. He hopes to create equal opportunities for blind people. He feels that blind people are only known for doing odd jobs in Vietnam, such as masseur, selling lottery tickets, or making handicrafts. Many blind people…
22 February 2016

Kim Van's Dream: Transportation for People with Disabilities

I still remember our first encounter with Kim Van, head of the “Assist People with Disabilities on Public Transportation” project, when we organized our first UPSHIFT outreach session at the Center for Disability Research & Capacity Development (DRD) in Vietnam. Van has weak leg muscles and is reliant on a wheelchair to move around but there…, A long way from home, on her own., Van is originally from Quang Nam, a small province 800 kilometers away from Ho Chi Minh City. Both Van and her brother have mobility disabilities. They were born with Polio, which is degenerative and continues to get worse with time, as her brother is. Due to her condition, Van has faced many complications in her educational journey. In grade…, The Struggle of People with Disabilities, When I asked Van about her challenges, she was honest, but optimistic. She recognized that different disabilities present different challenges, but overall life is hard for people with disabilities. Van has had to deal with indifference, misunderstandings and prejudices from people without empathy.Before joining DRD, Van herself felt uncomfortable…, The dream of helping people with disabilities, Van dreams of helping people with disabilities overcome challenges in daily transportation so they can integrate more seamlessly into society. Van knows that she cannot transform public infrastructure to accommodate people with disabilities in a short amount of time. Instead, she has chosen to use a more humane and practical approach: equip as…, Can UPSHIFT help realize her dream?, Van told me she felt proud and happy when UPSHIFT gave her the opportunity to pursue her dream. She highlighted that some of the skills UPSHIFT taught her, such as professionalism, communications, and project planning, have already made an impact on her project. She expressed great excitement to continue her project in the workshop and also,…