Meet the five bright minded teenagers from North Macedonia behind the innovation that won expert mentorship and $20,000 in seed funding to scale up their initiative from the global Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge. Their idea was simple, let’s find a way to help victims of bullying. Aleksandra, Matej, Amra, Danche and Dario talk about their mobile app “Speak Out” designed to build a community of support for victims of bullying, their experience from the moment of applying to the global challenge to the moment of joy when they learned their team AndroMeta is one of the five winners.
Innovation to end violence wins global recognition
The AndroMeta team will receive mentorship and from the Generation Unlimited partners and 20,000$ to expand their initiative to #ENDviolence - mobile phone app "Speak Out".
Aleksandra, 18, “the enthusiastic team leader”, as described by other team members
“The best thing that I learned in the last few months is that when you start something, you need to finish it! I was struggling a lot with the code at the beginning, and I wasn’t sure how to manage the technical part - I don’t think that I would have ever done it by myself. But whenever I started feeling like I want to quit, Matej would help me and we somehow managed to get it done! It is crucial to have support from your team and your mentor, but also to learn from the process.”
…the first contours of the idea emerge at the introductory workshop …
“The topic we worked at is very important for us. We feel like bullying is still a taboo in our country and young people don’t feel comfortable to speak about this with their parents or anyone else. We wanted to give each other a safe space to express, ask questions and advice. A lot of our friends were asking on how they can help or join us in what we are doing, which is great and tells us that this app is needed,“ said Aleksandra.
….and AndroMeta wins the first national competition stage celebrating together with UNICEF Representative Benjamin Perks.
“I feel like adults don’t always believe in our capabilities, but experience doesn’t always come with age, it comes with doing things that matter. Young people can make a difference,“ said Aleksandra.
Matej, 16, ”the pessimistic/genius backend developer” just a minute after getting the news that AndroMeta is one of the five global Generation Unlimited winners
“It is incredible. I am speechless. I never thought that we could achieve this. I thought that it would be difficult to pass the national selection, not to talk about the global one.
The opportunity for continuous learning during the development process is the best part of the Generation Unlimited challenge. For me, it was also interesting to learn that sometimes we don’t have to agree on everything to function, even after lengthy discussion. We can just agree that we don’t agree and to respect each other,” said Matej.
Matej presenting the SpeakOut concept to the jury and audience at an event when AndroMeta was selected, together with another team, to represent North Macedonia at the global Generation Unlimited contest.
“I experienced violence myself, and this experience in a way helped me in the process of designing the application. It is intended to serve as a forum, where young people can exchange information, but also with a chat -messenger option where they can talk with volunteers about issues that affect them, seek advice, etc. I firmly believe that any young person can make a difference in their community if they genuinely want to do that because, with commitment and persistence, anything can be achieved. The best lesson: learn how to recognize constructive feedback and use it!”, said Matej.
Amra, 17, “the energetic spokesperson”, as described by other team members
“We did a really good job in promoting the app. I felt embarrassed at the beginning when we had to share flayers and speak to people, but gradually we became good at it, and it was fun. It is very encouraging when other young people are genuinely interested and want to know more. We also had a great reach on social media,” said Amra.
Led by their mentor, AndroMeta team ardently discusses how to transform the idea into practice
“One of the best memories of the whole experience is the workshop! There was a lot of positive energy. Everyone was so open and friendly - we met many great people. We were working and learning, but still had the freedom to hang out with the other teams.
Now a lot of friends at school are asking me how we found out about the Challenge and if they can join – I think they start to see me differently but in a positive way. What I’m telling them is that one needs to start something and then everything will fall into place, “said Amra.
Danche, 18, “the wise counselor”, as described by other team members
“I see a lot of change in us as well, for example, Matej who is always very modest and skeptical showed a lot of self-confidence, started believing in himself, and I am delighted for him.
We were very thoughtful from the start, even before the workshop we met a few times to prepare and do some research. I think this is what helped us, that we approached the whole challenge as a team and with dedication,” said Danche.
Dario, 16, “the marketing and promotion guru”, as described by other team members
“This whole experience is just unbelievable, starting with how we met as we all live in different parts of Skopje. We met at an event, where we started talking (we talked over the whole weekend) and came to this idea to apply to the Gen U event, then we learned that we are shortlisted for the national selection, had the first appearances in public and on the media and everything that followed. All those moments are simply unforgettable and fulfilling.
Young people can make a huge difference if they have the will and motivation to embrace all the possibilities around them and if they learn to unite and work together. It is challenging for a single person to make a change in society, but when more people are working together, almost everything can be achieved,” said Dario.
The youth challenge is part of the Generation Unlimited Global Initiative launched at the United Nations General Assembly with an aim to engage young people to find creative solutions for social issues and free the creativity and ideas.