This year, through a pilot program made possible by The Ontario Trillium Foundation & fuse Brampton, an initiative of The Brampton Board of Trade, an international collaboration with Ireland’s Young Social Innovators movement launches in Peel.
During the Fall of 2013 through professional research performed by Vireo, we learned that high schoolers and young grads needed programming specific to their developmental and educational needs. Through a global scan we learned that Young Social Innovators in Ireland is the global leader delivering high school experiential learning programs and shortly thereafter we agreed to collaborate on a pilot, the first of its kind in Canada.
Young Social Innovators (YSI) is a movement of thousands of young people who are learning and practicing how to innovate for the good of others and society. At the same time, they are developing the much needed entrepreneurial skills and abilities needed for life in the 21st Century! Social innovation education through YSI challenges young people to look at social issues in new ways and empowers them to make a difference.
Making a difference can mean a lot of things but when using the tools of social innovation, it’s first about seeing things with a special “social” lens; seeing the gaps in rights and responsibilities; seeing those who, for one reason or another, are excluded and, rather than responding in the same old way, doing something new and innovative to bring about a positive outcome.
“I’m inspired by how Brampton’s young people and young entrepreneurs are taking on this challenge,” says Todd Letts, CEO of the Brampton Board of Trade. “Programs like YSI and fuse Brampton inspire many to make a positive difference both in the world and right here where they live.”
Young Social Innovators (YSI) began in Ireland in 2001 as a small pilot of just 100 teenagers. It is now the largest youth led social innovation movement in Ireland with over 20,000 young people taking part each year. These young people are making some radical changes to social issues in Ireland. One small group of students was successful in bringing about an annual national day of remembrance for Missing People. Another group recently won a global social enterprise award for their water conservation inventions. Others have created youth cafés in local towns and rural areas and have worked on highly successful national awareness campaigns on issues such as road safety, organ donation and concussion in sport.
The list of social issues tackled and innovations created are almost endless! Young Social Innovators is now being piloted by some of the most progressive schools in Brampton, and Mississauga. With the help of YSI Ireland, training is being hosted for educators in November 2014.
Participation involves young people (15-18 yrs) working in teams; selecting a social issue of concern to them; exploring it; coming up with an innovative idea in response and then implementing it! Throughout the course of the year, they will work together as a team to research, analyse, plan, network, innovate, advocate and speak – all while having lots of fun. The program is supported by YSI Guides or teachers/educators who will be trained and supported to facilitate the team. At the end of the year, all those involved will get together at one big YSI Speak Out and Showcase event. YSI is a unique movement.
Around 70% of all second level schools in Ireland have taken part. Its success has largely been due to its approach to social innovation learning and the experience gained by young participants and educators alike. It has evolved the thinking, understanding and pedagogy around social innovation education for young people both within and outside the school environment.
YSI has designed a special framework for social innovation learning and practice which guides educators and young people alike. This model helps learning, action and reflection and instills self-confidence and self-belief. Its programs, platforms, resources and supports have been developed and tested and are ready for use by Young Social Innovators Canada.
Today there is a lot of talk about the need to build innovation and entrepreneurial skills amongst young people. What we need to recognise is that we have innovators – young people are wired for innovative thinking and doing. Too often the education system does not allow this innate ability to grow and shine.
Young Social Innovators is about empowering young people. Its vision is to fire young people’s passion to change the world for good. That’s not just for Ireland – that’s a vision for the world. For more information or to get involved in the pilot this year contact Angela Bennett, Brampton Board of Trade -firstname.lastname@example.org Tel 416 277 1663416 277 1663.