I woke early on a chilly morning in July of 2016. I was going back to one of my favourite places backed by unpopular demand of course, Canberra. I knew I was going skiing in Jindabyne one week but the four days before that I was participating in a program called Young Change Agents this would be held in Canberra. A million questions raced through my head. Did I need to prepare? Had I left anything too late? Why was I chosen?
Slowly, however, this feeling fell away as I knew as with many programs the Cerebral Palsy facilitate or are involved in are for the benefits of empowering growth in their clients. (I use the organisation for support needed for my condition Cerebral Palsy). Little did I know, even the mentors and program facilitators were inexperienced in the concept. In their mind’s thoughts were probably racing around the success of the program and the participants they would encounter.
The time had finally arrived, it was still cold, and the skyline was rather bleak, however, this would not represent the experience I was about to undertake. There were masses of people, a large carpeted room and projectors everywhere. The anxiety returned as I was unsure of who would be in my group and I still had another question, why were people from Telstra here. Thankfully, I knew everyone on the table, they had taken the deep dive into the unknown along with myself on the long journey from Sydney. Thankfully, I currently enjoy the challenge of meeting new people, hearing their stories and building a relationship with them. The fun was about to begin.
I’m not sure if I heard this correctly but each table with the help of their mentors and the program facilitators was going to map out and create their very own social enterprise in 3 days. What is a social enterprise though you may ask? Let me put it plainly, it is essentially a business that makes its own money but at its core stands for a much larger humanitarian cause which it aims to address. In the case of Young Change Agents, their social cause stems around empowering youth to solve humanitarian inequities or other ideas that they are passionate about through teaching them business skills and design thinking.
The first stage of the process was to define our problem, undertaking in business terminology the ‘root cause analysis’. This we found out was the disappearance of tolerance and respect amongst young children causing them to be increasingly ignorant of others. As I am naturally an imaginative person, I was excited with the second stage of the business process brainstorming. Brainstorming gives you the freedom to let your mind run wild and forget about the logistics or practicality of your idea for a brief moment and just think of the first thing that comes to your head. As you can imagine, my ideas were quite farfetched. The range was broad. The initial idea was centred around creating a service that delivered food from developed to developing nations, a whirlwind of other ideas were developed from then on. We had at last settled on an idea, a game style app that aimed to teach young children the importance of tolerance and respect called ‘Kinship’
We had our market in mind being tech savvy young children giving them an educational and fun excuse to use their devices. We researched to check how unique our entrepreneurial feat really was as well as any feedback from the outcome of similar ideas. Thankfully, nothing concerning emerged out of our adventure into the complicated ecosystem of the World Wide Web.
Finally, on the final day it was time to show the big wigs that we were the real deal. We gathered everything together into a presentation and were ready for a Shark Tank like investment opportunity from a large corporation. Unfortunately, this did not eventuate however, I had a fantastic and eye opening experience nonetheless.
My time at Young Change Agents assisted me in shifting perspective on what can really be done by one person or a group in terms of making the world a better place for all. Since Young Change Agents I have developed a passion for social justice, helping with social media marketing at a social enterprise called Moeloco. Moeloco’s social purpose is for every pair of thongs sold a child in India benefitted by the Hope foundation is given a pair of shoes to help with safety and sanitation. Whilst being involved in social enterprise firsthand, I have also encouraged others to change their life and world perspective, a call to action to accelerate the drive for global social change. I sit here now writing this article in the office of Young Change Agents almost having successfully completed the full circle from participant to employee.
My next steps are to inspire the new alumni of Young Change Agents to broaden their horizons on what’s possible as well as to further engrain the believe in society that everyone can do their part in contributing to social change and increasing world equality.