Young people awarded seed funds to implement their ideas and make soil-solutions a reality
Skopje, 23 March 2023: At a design thinking workshop 5 (five) teams of 13-19-year-old young people were granted each 120,000 denars to realize their innovative solution to improve and protect the soil resources in their communities and adapt to the effects of climate change.
The innovators were selected as part of the UNICEF supported UPSHIFT programme where 10 teams made up of 50 high school students from Skopje, Tetovo, Kocani, Stip, Delcevo, Bitola and the municipality of Dolneni participated in the three-day design thinking workshop. Under the guidance of their mentors and professors, all teams had the opportunity to develop their ideas and gain new practical skills.
The past five cycles of the UPSHIFT programme were focused on youth-led solutions to environmental challenges and over 250 young people participated in these thematic UPSHIFT cycles, implemented with the support of Sweden and in partnership with the Fund for Innovation and Technological Development.
“Young people are yet again leading by example in addressing complex environmental challenges. Their forward-thinking solutions speak volumes about the power they possess to spearhead real, concrete changes in their communities. By empowering young people to become resilient citizens, Sweden fully supports and celebrates their efforts as we work together for a more sustainable future,“ said H.E. Ms Ami Larsson Jain, Ambassador of Sweden.
“The response of children and young people to this UPSHIFT cycle is demonstrating again their capacity to generate innovative ideas when given a space to express themselves and participate. I congratulate these young people on their engagement and great ideas and hope they can inspire others and catalyze positive change related to the environment and climate action,” said Patrizia DiGiovanni, UNICEF Representative.
"Congratulations to the winning teams, who with their research projects proved that with creative thinking, effort and hard work they can come up with innovative solutions that will benefit the whole society. With the fourth cycle of the UPSIFHT programme, we saw that young people are aware of the importance of quality cultivated soil, which is of crucial importance for the preservation of the environment, but also for people in terms of quality food production. Through the support of projects and programs intended for young people, FITR strengthens its clear commitment to always be on the side of young people, supporting their innovative ideas, creative potential and entrepreneurial culture," said Festim Halili, director of the Fund for Innovation and Technological Development.
The five top teams awarded seed funds to implement their ideas include:
- Team from the vocational school “Pance Arsovski” Skopje for their idea on creating a mobile greenhouse. The greenhouse will have capabilities to measure soil water content, greenhouse humidity, and greenhouse temperature.
- Team from the vocational school "Brakja Miladinovci" from Skopje will produce biohumus through raising of Californian worms and the use of organic manure and plant waste. The biohumus will be used to grow different crops that purify the soil.
- Team from the vocational school "Metodi Mitevski Brico" from Delchevo will construct an automatic machine for purifying the soil through thermal treatment destroying the harmful metals.
- Secondary School "Gjosho Vikentiev" from Kočani will make a portable device with sensors for detection of metals in wastewater that pollutes the soil. The devices will be placed in 3 locations in Kočani and will be connected to a mobile application developed by students.
- Secondary School "Kuzman Shapkarev" from Bitola will build an organic garden for the cultivation of spices and medicinal herbs. The herbs will then be used to produce teas.
Over the next three months the teams will be supported by mentors to implement their ideas.
UPSHIFT is a UNICEF supported initiative that combines social innovation workshops, with mentorship, materials and seed funding. It aims to foster innovative and creative thinking among young people, to understand the challenges they face and help them design innovative solutions in the form of a product or service. It builds on “human centred design” methodology which is transferable and helps both teachers and students develop entrepreneurial skills, such as: project management, critical thinking, teamwork and successful communication.
The programme is funded by Sweden, implemented by UNICEF and the association LEAD in partnership with the Fund for Innovation and Technological Development, and supported by the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Bureau for Development of Education and the Ministry of Labor and Social Policies.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.mk.