Curious about the necessary conditions that enable youth to become leaders of tomorrow, Mentor Dida began on a journey. Mentor, a Youth Venture Program Coordinator, recruited youth to lead research in identifying what helped them to #LeadYoung. Mentor and his team asked these changemakers questions like: Where did your changemaker journey start? How long did that take? What made you keep going?
The research unveiled three common trends that changemaker youth outlined as critical steps in their journeys:
The first step is the initial Spark, or something that ignited in them a taste for change. The second step is Taking Action, or making effort to change the problem they saw in the world. The last necessary step in the process was Validation, or positive reinforcement coming from the youth’s local ecosystem that pushed them to persevere. From this exploration, the Changemaker Journey was born.
Mentor now leads the Changemaker Journey in Ashoka’s Youth Venture. The initiative is hoping to engage with high school and college-aged youth to enable more students, teachers, and faculty to design experiences that galvanize young on a changemaking journey. In a world of constant change, society needs individuals that possess changemaker qualities: empathy, leadership, teamwork, and collective problem solving. Without the evolution of changemaker skills, individuals fall behind in unleashing their creative ideas and leadership. The consequences of this are lost opportunities to generate positive impacts for society. Today's world cannot afford to let this continue.
After engaging with Youth Venture on building a world where ‘Everyone is a Changemaker’, Alison Brand and Marissa Getts, two of Youth Venture’s interns, were featured youth speakers at TedX. Their inspiring talk, Sparking Empathy in Youth, emulates the key components that the Changemaker Journey holds: Groups of ecosystems must work together to foster the natural state of empathy that is within all of us. Strengthening this skill early on guarantees that an individual can embark on a path towards their very own changemaker journey.
According to Alison and Marissa, parents and educators must revolutionize what they prioritize as important for students: “It’s crucial that we step back and have these youth take appropriate risk. We need to teach them that learning, not perfect execution, is success”. This shift in priorities, from test results to personal exploration, is key to understanding Youth Venture’s Changemaker Journey work.
Only by mastering empathy and changemaker qualities can the next generation of youth changemakers be fostered.