I'm delighted to tell you about the Commonwealth Girls In ICT Creativity & Innovation Challenge, exploring ideas to make education and learning more inclusive for all children; and to ask you to invite young people to join in.
Designed and run by the Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network (CBWN), Flow In Action and GSMA, this is an international inclusive event for girls and boys, inviting them to engage, explore and experience UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 on Quality Education and Goal 5 on Gender Equality.
What had originally been planned as a face-to-face workshop for 30 girls in London, was turned upside down by COVID-19. With more than 1.5 billion students now out of school during the COVID-19 pandemic, we got together to see how we could help. From a brief conversation two weeks ago, the challenge has emerged and we are excited to share this as a free interactive online event for girls and boys ages 8-16 years old in Commonwealth countries and beyond.
This is an opportunity for your young people to:
· Learn digital skills
· Create incredible innovative ideas for inclusive education for all children
· Connect across the globe as problem-solvers
Powered by our tech platforms of Hazu and World Labs, you can get involved in the challenge with your children and youth from 23 April 2020 until 23 June 2020. Take part on the day and then as an ongoing project.
Educators, librarians, youth workers: get your students involved to connect across the globe, learning digital skills as they use their creativity and generate incredible ideas to solve the innovation challenge.
Parents: get your kids involved in the challenge as a home-schooling creativity activity as they learn digital skills and share their incredible ideas for creating inclusive education.
Students: Your creativity counts! Take part in the challenge with children across the world, learn digital skills and share your incredible ideas for creating inclusive education for all children.
Discover more about the challenge at www.cbwn.org and be ready to register and enter the interactive classroom on the 23rd April 2020.
We are so excited to see the incredible ideas of young people emerging over the course of the challenge, and we will be sharing their voices with you, as a community taking action for the planet.
#girlsinict #flowinaction #imagination #ideas #creativity #innovation #entrepreneurship #commonwealth #youthvoices
In the UK, the Durham Commission on Creativity & Education was published in mid-October, citing:
"The increasing recognition of the economic and social value of creativity and creative thinking has brought a fresh urgency to the development of entrepreneurship and the skills of the future workforce."
This is extraordinarily well-timed as Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019 takes place 18th – 24th November.
Why celebrate GEW in your school? Because it is a fantastic way to build youth wellbeing, complex problem-solving skills and solutions to challenges in your community.
Young people need to know that life is worth living and that their actions can create a positive shift.
Why bother with hope?
Being hopeful is a key factor in wellbeing. Plus…
“Researchers have found that students who are high in hope have greater academic success, stronger friendships, and demonstrate more creativity and better problem-solving They also have lower levels of depression and anxiety and are less likely to drop out from school.” 
Make space for far-fetched ideas
Inspire hope in young people by getting them to have far-fetched ideas to change the world and save the planet.
“Hope arises in dire circumstances in which people fear the worst yet yearn for better…Hope creates the urge to draw on one’s own capabilities and inventiveness to turn things around.”
Before the innovation comes the invention. Before the invention comes the ideas.
We need every young person to know that having far-fetched ideas is the starting point of taking action to halt the current zero-sum game for people and planet.
Their hope starts with their creativity.
Global Citizens – The class of 2018
The GenZ young people that I talk to, as well as the Millennials, see themselves as ‘humans without geographic boundaries’ - a new era of global citizens wanting to take action on climate change, world peace and ending poverty.
We need our young people to be hopeful in their own capacity…not for someone else to swoop-in to save the day, but in their own capacity to take action for positive change, within their lives and communities.
NB: Do Things for Others sits in first place as Action for Happiness’ 10 Keys to Happier Living
What can you do on Happiness Day to inspire hope?
Celebrate every young person, regardless of academic ability, as an agent of change.
Appoint each one as an innovator able to save the world by taking action through their unique creativity and strengths.
Round off your Happiness Day by celebrating Hope as a character strength that every one of them has as a community of global citizens.
Wishing you a joyful, hopeful, awe-filled Happiness Day!
Someone asked me this week why I focus on getting people, especially young people, to play with ideas. It is a key part of my practice because it is a ‘change-maker space’ for building resilience, the capacity to adapt to challenges and continue to move forward in life.
In this space with me, everybody gets to build the ingredients that go into being resilient because everybody gets to play.
Why do I care about kids being resilient?
Because it is an essential part of their wellbeing, as well as the personal life-skills that they need to take action in making positive change happen.
…and we need GenZ to take action more than ever!
Giving them to passion to achieve the SDGs using their creativity, connects to a profound sense of their purpose in their lives.
Take 3 ingredients
Here are three of the ingredients that increase resilience; they are also character strengths that play a role in wellbeing.
> Empathy – Defined as the ability to understand and share other people’s feelings, we connect by exploring their everyday experiences and other people might be experiencing those things too.
> Risk-taking – When we play, we are adventurers and adventurous in our thinking and actions; we take incredible risks, adapting as we go and picking ourselves up when things don’t go to plan.
> Flexible Thinking – We change perspective, choosing new ways to see challenges, making sure that we recognise challenges as events that are ‘specific, external and temporary’ rather than down to who we are.
Play, play, play
And so, we play within our ethical framework: freestyling, iterating, dreaming up the seemingly impossible, saying the simple obvious things too; gently building our resilience, ready to adapt as we go.
We play as equals in our creativity, creating a prism of insights where everyone’s voice matters, because in that ‘space between’ the rules, is exactly where we will find our courage to do something different. And that something different, might be the very thing that changes everything.
To quote Picasso, “I start with an idea and then it becomes something else.”
It is breath-taking to watch the alchemy at work when young people are in this space. I see their joy and it is contagious.
Because of these resilient agents of change, I am hopeful for the world we are in.
 Reivich, K., 2003. The Resilience Factor: Seven Essential Skills for Overcoming Life’s Inevitable Obstacles. Crown Publishing Group.
 Zolli, A., 2013. Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back. Business Plus
Our role is to equip our young people to take risks and have adventures.
They are so capable of making positive changes happen around them; we believe it for them until they go out into the world and believe it for themselves.
What is the biggest adventure in each day? For each of us, it is knowing that it is ok not to know the answers.
Where is the new, unusual and exciting? It is knowing how to start finding answers; and finding those answers, by creating solutions ‘with’ people, not doing ‘to’ them.
How do you find solutions ‘with’ people?
Ask them questions. Lots of them. Be open to the expertise of the person experiencing the need and what their insights will teach you. Listen, as Stephen Covey would say, to understand not to reply.
This is the richest adventure in every day as a change-maker – to put aside your need to be ‘right’ and take the risk on creating lasting positive change by discovering solutions with others.
When you want to make positive social change happen in a community, as a leader you build a team with different strengths. It is like building a prism. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole; an abundance of creativity coming from different perspectives to generate solutions to problems.
As leader, you will hold the space for each person, believing in them until they trust and believe in themselves; guiding them to step into their strengths so that they know how to contribute their best voice to the problem-solving. This is how resilient individuals, teams and social change organisations are created.
This is you as an agent of change for your young people.
Connecting them to their strengths, will give them a platform from which to feel a sense of value in the world and a way to start navigating challenges.
This is a way for each one of them to start finding their voice.
Wayne Gretsky said, “You miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take.”
We need to take action to anchor our young people in the core belief that their solutions, generated from their strengths, have a place in changing things for the better: that it is worth taking the risk on having a go, rather than believing that you don’t count.
Here are two ways to hold the space for your young people and increase their wellbeing by connecting them to their individual character strengths.
1. Do the Character Strengths FREE survey
Go to www.viacharacter.org and get your students (age 12+) to complete the youth survey. Each child will discover their signature strengths.
2. Strengths Cards for all ages
Use At My Best Strengths cards. I use these with adults and young people to connect people to their strengths and problem-solve from a strengths perspective.
Spoken word poetry is a powerful tool for change.
You might wonder what spoken word poetry has to do with making change happen.
This is the ancient tradition of lyrical story-telling reinvented for an age of disruptive social innovators.
What if you spoke about what moves you?
You might find yourself standing in the middle of an incongruity of messages: we want you to think but we don't like the democratic voice which thinking gives you.
If you are there in that place, it's simply that they are uneasy that you might disrupt the safety of their significance and level the playing field.
The truth is that your unique perspective counts. Your creativity is unprecedented.
As Audre Lorde said, "I began to ask each time: "What's the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?"
What truth will you speak?
Inspiration for opening up your unique blend of creativity to take action for people and planet