High school students from Skopje, Gostivar, Delcevo, and Makedonska Kamenica created innovative solutions for reducing air pollution

High school students are capable and ready to be drivers of change in society with their innovative solutions for various societal issues and challenges – this was the conclusion from UPSHIFT Bootcamp.

04 November 2022
Two adolescent girls participating in UPSHIFT bootcamp
LEAD - Leaders for Education, Activism and Development

A three-day UPSHIFT Bootcamp for developing and supporting AIR-related social innovations was held in Struga from 02 to 04 November, where ten high school teams were selected as finalists of the open invitation under the program.

High school teams from Skopje, Gostivar, Delcevo, and Makedonska Kamenica, each team composed of five students supported by a mentor, developed their solutions for problems related to air pollution. Excessive use of fossil fuels, lack of purification filters, and inappropriate waste treatment are just some of the challenges that the highschoolers offered solutions for.  

Five teams were declared winners  by a jury of experts, based on the presentations and the solutions’ potential.

  • “Orce Nikolov” School from Skopje will work on developing a company that will use soot from existing smokestacks and filters to produce and sell ink, then reinvest the profits into installation of new filters.
  • “Rade Jovceski – Korchagin” School from Skopje will work on creating an innovative air filtration system called Hexam filter, which can be installed on windows, vehicles, factories, or outdoors.
  • “Mile Janevski - Dzingar” School from Makedonska Kamenica will set up a student company that will import and grow silver birch,  a tree capable of absorbing more than 3100 kilograms of carbon dioxide.
  • “Metodi Mitevski - Brico” School from Delcevo will install electrostatic filters on the chimneys of their school, on the primary school, the kindergarten, and the center for persons with special needs in the city. These filters would remove 99% of the harmful particles.
  • “Gostivar” School from Gostivar will construct a bioreactor called “TTD” that transforms biodegradable waste into biogas that would then be used to generate electric power for household use. This will prevent methane pollution of the air.

The winning teams received 120,000 denars each, as well as three months of mentoring to develop the social initiatives in their respective communities.

The Bootcamp was launched by representatives of UNICEF, the Embassy of Sweden, and  the Fund for Innovation and Technological Development, who support the implementation of the program.

“Young people in North Macedonia and throughout the world demand action to make sure that they can breathe clean air and live in a healthy sustainable environment”, said UNICEF Representative Patrizia DiGiovanni. “We were glad that children and young people responded enthusiastically to this UPSHIFT cycle and demonstrated once again that they have the capacity to generate innovative ideas and solutions when they are given opportunities to participate and express themselves.”

“It makes me truly proud that we were able to offer many young entrepreneurs an opportunity under the UPSHIFT program this year to work on innovative solutions in an area that affects all of us, especially the children and young people who have a fundamental right to a healthy environment, clean air, food, and water. At the Fund we try to always be open to new initiatives and ideas from young creative minds with ambitions to build a successful and prosperous generation that will create long-term positive changes for the whole society. I believe that young people should be given opportunities and space, and I also believe in their potential and energy to create massive changes”, said Festim Halili, Director of the Fund for Innovation and Technological Development.

Speaking at the event opening, Sweden’s Ambassador to the Republic of North Macedonia Ami Larsson Jain emphasized the importance of dealing with air pollution and thanked the high school students for investing their minds and creativity in generating innovative solutions towards the collective task of combating air pollution and climate change.

“Polluted air is a challenge in almost every city in the country. With this in mind, our high school students developed innovative solutions that will help their respective communities breathe cleaner air. They demonstrated that when given an opportunity, they can be active and think like entrepreneurs”, said Ivan Jovanov, Executive Director of the LEAD Association, which is implementing the program. 

UPSHIFT  is a program intended for high school students (age 14-19) who have ideas for solving a challenge/problem in their communities.

The program is implemented by the Leaders for Education, Activism and Development (LEAD) Association, under the project “Encouraging Children and Youth in North Macedonia to Drive Change for Mitigating Community Vulnerabilities to Climate Change” implemented by UNICEF with financial support from the Government of Sweden and the Fund for Innovation and Technological Development.

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