Thai youth take the lead in designing solutions to address challenges facing them
Thai team wins the global Generation Unlimited Challenge
A group of young people from Thailand has won UNICEF’s Generation Unlimited (Gen-U) Youth Challenge, a new global initiative aims to unleash the creativity of young people across the world in designing solutions to the issues that concern them.
Thousands of young people have participated in the global challenge. The Gen-U serves as a new global platform to identify and scale up solutions for young people in order to help them get the skills, education and employment they need to succeed in today’s world.
From Thailand, around 500 young people participated in the challenge. The Fantastic Four has been selected as one of the five global winners from 32 finalist teams from 16 countries.
The team is a group of four male youths who have recently been in Ubekkha Juvenile Training Centre in Thailand’s Nakhon Prathom Province. They won the global challenge with their creative idea to develop a website to promote employment opportunity for young offenders.
Everyone who participates in this youth challenge is trying to address the social issues they are facing. This makes us realize that although we have committed mistakes and were born with nothing, if we start doing good deeds, it could become something great.
This is the reflection from Mac, 24, the leader of Fantastic Four team. Mac and his Fantastic Four team realized that children and youth from the juvenile vocational training center could not find jobs when they left the center. They end up being back into the center not long after their release because, without jobs, they can’t earn money and eventually have to commit a crime again.
Our team also used to take the wrong path, but at one point we realized that we were wasting our life. We lost too many opportunities.
Mac wants society to be open-minded. He said that children and youth in the juvenile vocational training centers are not as violent as many believe them to be. At the center, they receive training for various occupations such as technician and carpenter, which are the skills needed by many businesses. However, most people have negative perceptions of children and youth who are in contact with the law. When the businesses know that they have committed an offence or have tattoos, the doors are closed to them. Mac had a chance to continue his study and is now studying for a bachelor’s degree of law at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University.
The issue inspired Fantastic Four team to develop a website bridging between the businesses and youth from the juvenile vocational training centers. The website will enable both sides to understand each other more. The businesses will have access to information about youth from the juvenile vocational training centers including the crimes they committed, their tattoos, the videos to introduce them and to demonstrate the skills they have. On the other hands, the youth will have access to information about the businesses such as locations, rules and regulations. This service will help reduce the cost of job searching for the youth whereas the businesses will get the right person for the right job. Mac believes that this website will be the starting point to open the society’s mind to young people who want to return from the wrong path.
While they did not win the global challenge, there were many other great ideas put forward by young participants. Here are the four other teams who came at the top of the Gen-U challenge in Thailand.
UNLOCK IDEA – Female youth from Ban Pranee the Training Center for Girls
The team proposed SEX – Sex Education Sensor System, a motion sensor that sends out a short sound message on sex education, such as contraception, safe sex practices, information about consultation service, so that young people will become more familiar with the issues and gain more knowledge.
“We believe that to address the issues of teenage moms, we need to dig to the roots, not just hacking at the leaves. We have to educate them in a way suitable for them. Short sound messages are easier to remember. We want to spread this idea to everyone. We want them to try our idea. Apply it to what they are doing. If the children are well-educated, we believe that the teen pregnancy rate will eventually reduce.”
Look Riang – youths who have been affected by conflict in the far south
Affected by the conflict, single moms n three southernmost provinces do not have enough income, which has an impact on the well-being and access to education of their children. Look Riang proposed the idea of career development for these single moms by using local materials to produce souvenirs.
“We will split the income into 3 parts. 40% for production; 30% for working capital, and the remaining 30% for scholarships for the members. Once the business is strengthened, we will organize workshops to build capacity for anyone who are interested. They will learn dressmaking skills and understand the life of local people. We will include the art therapy to provide psycho-social support to these single moms.”
Lagajoy – Dara-ang youths
These young people aged between 14-16 from Hoay Chanu, Fang district, Chiang Mai province, proposed the idea of career development to increase family income during harvest break. They will apply local knowledge to develop products such as bags and wallets. This will become a part-time job to help families earn additional income to relieve their burden and allow their children to continue their education.
“Income will be used as a fund for children to loan for their tuition fee. Part of it will be used to provide training to these children. We believe that if children are educated, they will grow up into quality adults who can help improve their communities and the country.”
Kla Kid Pi Chit Fun – youth with impaired vision from Chiang Mai
The team proposed to address the long-standing problems of children with disability. These children lack the inspiration to live and learn. The idea is to organize a Talk event and invite inspirational speakers to motivate the children, both with and without visual impairment, so that they will become more confident in themselves. This will also work as a bridge to connect these two groups so that they can help inspire each other.
“Although the talk event won’t be able to create a life-long inspiration, children will, at least, start to feel proud of themselves and realize that they are not a burden. To continue this project, we will create a Facebook Page, find more activities for children with and without visual impairment do together, and organize career development sessions. Start with our schools and expand to other provinces.”
These stories of Fantastic Four- a global winner- and the four other finalists from Thailand are examples of achievement and opportunities that UNICEF gives to young people. They will learn and utilize their potential to the fullest and will be ready to grow up to become productive adults in the future.
More about the 5 winning teams of the global Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge at: https://www.generationunlimited.org/news-and-stories/meet-five-global-winners-youth-challenge