Ivan and Stefan, two students from the Orce Nikolov high-school in Skopje decided to utilize young people’s dependence on smartphones and social media to inspire them to be physically more active and more aware about the use of resources in their environment. Their plan to use dynamo based technology so that young people can charge up their smartphones was selected as one of the five ideas that got seed funding during the first UPSHIFT programme in the country.
On a Saturday evening, when most teenagers are getting ready to go out, two high-school students from Skopje, Ivan and Stefan were pondering over the idea of how to better use their free time. Staring at their smartphones, Ivan recalled the UPSHIFT call he saw a few days before. Thinking about the overwhelming influence that smartphones and social media have on the lives of teenagers, the idea about how to inspire young people to be more physically active sparked. They quickly packed what they thought was “crazy idea” into a project proposal and sent it without any expectation that they might be selected for the UPSHIFT workshop, let alone get seed funding to bring it to reality.
“We still can’t believe that we have been selected,” they say in unison.
“We were simply trying to find something interesting to do to past the time, not entirely aware of the irony that we ourselves were spending way too much time on social media and in front of our smartphones. But it is a reality for most teenagers and from this point of view, we could not have thought of a better way to motivate our peers to be more physically active,” Stefan explains.
Their plan is to use a dynamo, put it on a stationary bicycle and use pedal power to generate electricity to recharge smartphone batteries. The idea is to put these charging stations in popular locations where young people gather.