UPSHIFT: five years of innovation in Ukraine
The UPSHIFT programme run by UNICEF is celebrating its fifth anniversary in Ukraine, amid an ongoing war that has devastated communities.
A social innovation programme run by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to empower young people to identify challenges in their communities and create entrepreneurial solutions to address them is celebrating its fifth anniversary in Ukraine.
In this time, more than 3,000 young people have participated in the programme, with teams receiving training and resources to implement their ideas. Together, they have created over 300 socially valuable projects in the education, technology, leisure, mental health, children and youth, inclusion, animal welfare and humanitarian sectors.
UPSHIFT equips young people with much-needed professional skills – such as teamwork, problem analysis, critical thinking, or project management. After completing the programme, many participants continue implementing projects or creating new initiatives. Young people have the potential to drive social change. With the proper support, their creative energy and passion can help to co-create a sustainable, peaceful and prosperous Ukraine.
"UPSHIFT significantly impacts the lives of programme participants and their communities,” says Daria, a member of the KropRobots team, which established a robotics club for children in Kropyvnytskyi. “Young people acquire skills to become active citizens, understand the problems of their environment, and look for innovative solutions. All this contributes to emerging projects that solve specific problems in the community and, ultimately, to social progress."
"Our community has blossomed since the creation of the youth space,” says Artem, a member of the Defenders of the Word team, which created a space for young people in Korostyshiv. “I have never seen such interest in activities for young people before. Thanks to the programme, we got a place and a tool for self-expression. The authorities, civil society organizations and activists followed our example and started doing more for the city. And once there is an impulse to move, everyone wants to keep up and not stop.”
"UPSHIFT has completely changed my life because now I, a future psychologist, have the opportunity to help the people of my country in these difficult times,” says Sofia, a member of the Edelweiss team, which provides free psychological assistance in Kropyvnytskyi. “And most importantly, I can master practical skills and grow in my field even before graduation, even if supervised by specialists. I feel useful. Thanks to UPSHIFT, I am now where I am really needed."
"Thanks to the programme, many positive changes have come into my life,” adds Bohdan, a member of the Life Start team, which created a motivational training camp for teenagers. “And it is the skills we use every day that help me be myself! The experience of communication, financial literacy and teamwork is exactly what I need for comfort now. UPSHIFT has helped me find new friends and an environment dedicated to helping others feel better."
The war in Ukraine in 2022 has caused a number of serious humanitarian challenges in all regions of Ukraine. Since young people are one of the driving forces of communities, UPSHIFT is starting All-Ukrainian recruitment. You can register for the program using this link.