For Ukrainian youngsters, skills workshop sparks innovation
Teenagers in the Ukrainian city of Ostroh have been learning how to become forces for positive change, with the help of a new training course
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Until recently, 16-year-old Volodymyr believed that there was no way to become a force for positive change in his home city of Ostroh, Ukraine. But now, after taking part in a course on project management, he has changed his mind and even become the brains behind a new idea.
"Many of us have had situations in our lives when we wanted to communicate with the community, but there was no opportunity for that,” says the teenager. “So, we need a communication hub – a bridge between the youth, the authorities and the NGOs. A hub that will help teenagers to more easily communicate their proposals to the authorities, and help the latter to receive feedback.”
The idea, developed by Volodymyr and a team of teenagers, took first prize on the Skills Lab course, which was organised by Et Cetera NGO with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Government of Korea.
Over the course of two weeks, 25 teenagers were taught how to implement their ideas, how to solve social problems through their initiatives and how to plan a budget. Participants also received training on oral presentation skills and learned how to best present their projects.
As part of the Skills Lab training, teenagers presented their ideas about large and famous companies, including Facebook and Apple. They also studied the public sector in Ostroh and learned how to interact with it.
“We want teenagers to see that they can create the opportunities here and now, not just look for them in bigger cities. At the age of 14, they are able to be part of youth organisations and promote change, and potentially create their own start-ups and even earn money from it.”
Each group of teenagers was assigned a mentor – a young person with experience in the public sector or a member of a local organisation. After graduation, each team presented an idea for a project that aims to solve certain problem within the community.
“Participants came up with the idea of creating a photo club as one of the ways to help teenagers fulfill themselves through creativity. Another team was solving the problem of loneliness and socialisation of teenagers – for this, the participants developed the idea of a mentoring programme. We have a university in the city, many students who could be mentors to help teenagers set goals and go for them.”
Mykhailo believes that his initiative creates long-term benefits and will help teenagers to create projects multiple times in their lives.
“Such projects develop young people’s responsibility for their future. This is how we can learn to change our environment, everyday life and community, to become better. In general, this will improve the educational process. Also, authorities will work more efficiently, because they will know what teenagers need.”