Youth have the fresh eyes - let's give them the skills

I love that story about Henry Ford who was having trouble making things work on the production line. A staff member told him, "it can't be done" and he said to him, "well find me a young person that doesn't know it can't be done!".

I love that story about Henry Ford who was having trouble making things work on the production line. A staff member told him, "it can't be done" and he said to him, "well find me a young person that doesn't know it can't be done!".

Whilst setting up youth literacy projects in Cartagena, Colombia, I realised that I had to do something not just for the kids that couldn't read and write but also for the kids that could. I wanted to show them that they could be leaders. After our first leadership and social enterpreneurship camp, one of the girls said to me. "I used to think "why don't people help us?". Now I say, "we can help ourselves"". I learnt from these kids that a small amount of training and support could change their whole perception on life. They contained the will, they just needed the tools and someone to believe in them.

At one social entrepreneurship camp, I walked up to a team of 13 year olds who were setting up their business model canvas. (yes, no matter what the model they would understand it just as quick or quicker than adults!). I asked them what is the problem, and they responded, "there aren't any affordable english classes in our neighbourhood and English is needed to sell to tourists". I thought back to the countless number of  FREE English classes I had given over the few years prior in other neighbouring areas. I said, "Okay, so what is your solution?". They answered, "a social enterprise that charges what the community can afford. In that way, we can pay a teacher who will keep coming". I had a little chuckle to myself. These kids had taught me a big lesson with their fresh eyes and their newly learnt principles of social entrepreneurship! They understood sustainability and that charity-run programs would often have an end-date.

Over the years, youth have taught me that they understand the problems and issues in their communities much better than any outsider can. Whether it is Muslim youth in Western Sydney, young people with a disability, a private school on the North Shore of Sydney - every group of youth will have different challenges to face. And with the right skills and someone to believe in them, they too can be positive agents for change. It's why this year my Co-Founder Jonathan and I have started Young Change Agents - a social enterprise committed to giving this opportunity to as many youth as we can. (Our target is 10,000 initially)

If you want a pick-me-up - come join Young Change Agents as a volunteer mentor in Sydney. There is nothing more motivating then the enthusiam of youth. 


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