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Camp to focus on social innovation

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A week-long summer camp for high school students will focus on social innovation and entrepreneurship.

Dubbed the “Sprout Ideas Camp,” it is set to run July 25-29 at Fort Frances High School.

“My true belief and motivation behind getting involved with this is there’s so much potential in young people,” said camp co-ordinator Lindsay DuPré of TakingITGlobal, the organization hosting the camp.

“I’m a youth myself,” she noted.

“Often people refer to us as the leaders of tomorrow,” said DuPré. “But we really believe that we are the leaders of right now.

“And if we can support them to identify what their strengths are, what their passion is, and fuel that, then the possibilities are endless,” she enthused.

“They are going to be able to create change in their communities, country, and around the world, if they choose,” DuPré added.

“It’s just about giving them the right support.”

DuPré said TakingITGlobal is a youth organization that focuses on using technology as a catalyst for youth engagement and involvement in social change.

“The ‘Sprout Ideas Camp’ was started by TakingITGlobal as an initiative to give training and leadership opportunities to support youth to identify what they’re passionate about in their communities, and then to give them some of the tools to create their own projects to address those different issues,” she explained.

DuPré reiterated the camp is centered around the idea of social innovation and entrepreneurship.

“At the beginning of the week, we go over some of the principles behind why we do this, explaining social innovation and leadership, uncovering those with the youth,” she remarked.

“Then we start brainstorming and learning about different social challenges both locally—so with the Fort Frances students we’ll talk about what’s going on in the community there—but then also keeping it open to whatever they’re interested in.

“It might be beyond Fort Frances, more regional, provincial, national, or even global,” she said, noting they want the youths to open their eyes to different things going on.

Once they determined some of the issues, the youths will come up with an idea to solve one of them.

DuPré said they’ll use design thinking, which is a formal process for practical, creative resolution of problems and creation of solutions, with the intent of an improved future result.

“We want to ensure that when they’re coming up with a project idea to address an issue, that whatever the solution that they come up with is actually going to address the needs,” she reasoned.

The youths also will develop their own pitches for their project idea.

“Then at the end of the week, on the last day, they’ll present their project ideas to a panel of experts,” added DuPré, noting most will be locals while some will be from the TakingITGlobal team.

“They’ll be given information on how they can actually continue their ideas,” she said. “We want to set it up in a way that this isn’t just a one week thing.

“In one way or another, they will move on with these ideas,” she added.

“Whether that is their specific project, they’ll be encouraged, if they want, to make it happen.”

DuPré also noted they will talk about grant writing and other things that could fund their ideas.

“Or for some, it might just be the leadership skills that they gain throughout the week,” she remarked.

“That’s equally important.”

DuPré visited here last month when she helped launched the “Connected North” program at Mine Centre School.

During her week-long visit, she really was inspired by some of the things going on in the community.

“It’s an exciting time and if we can play a role to help sprout those ideas, just like the name of our camp, then it’s a good thing,” she reasoned.

The “Sprout Ideas Camp” has run for several years, mostly in the Toronto area.

But because TakingITGlobal has been building its networks through the “Connected North” program, it decided to try to reach more youths in different communities.

This year, the camp also is being offered in Thunder Bay, Hamilton, and Niagara, as well as in Arviat, Nunavut.

“We want the youths to recognize that they’re part of something bigger,” DuPré stressed.

“There’s a whole network of youth change-makers across Canada and I really believe the youth in Fort Frances have the potential to play key roles in that.”

She added some really cool projects have come out of the camp in previous years.

They’ve included awareness campaigns for issues like mental health, anti-racism, and supporting LGBTQ communities.

Others developed their own clubs and program, or created websites and apps.

DuPré noted one issue that was addressed was people using too much energy in their homes.

“They came up with an idea to have a tracking device that you plug an appliance into before plugging it into the outlet,” she explained.

“It’s connected to an app on your phone so that you can track how much energy is being used by that device.

“For young people to be coming up with these innovative ideas, it’s really exciting to see,” DuPré enthused.

“And we leave it open because this year there might be completely new ideas and we’re excited to see where it goes.”

While they’ve had some students register for the camp already, spots are still available.

“We’re definitely looking to get some more people signed up,” DuPré said, noting they’re aiming for about 20 youths.

“It’s a free camp,” she added, with meals and transportation provided.

“We don’t want there to be any barriers for youth to participate,” DuPré stressed. “The biggest thing they have to put forward is their energy and their commitment to being part of it.”

The camp is for students who just finished Grades 9-12, but DuPré said they might take students who will be going into Grade 9 this fall.

“Opportunities like this are so important for young people because often [youth] are underestimated,” she noted.

“And we feel that the more that young people see themselves as being powerful change-makers right now, that’s when we’re going to see some powerful change happening.

“The youth are going to be the ones to do it, we’re just giving them the resources,” DuPré reasoned.

“I’m so excited to get up there and work with some of the youth in the community.”

To register for the camp, visit http://sprout.tigweb.org

You also can e-mail socialinnovation@takingitglobal.org for more information.

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