Over-analysed ‘Generation Z’ has huge contribution to make to society – Young Social Innovators (YSI)
The upcoming generation of young adults is fast becoming the most analysed and researched group in our society, yet opportunities for them to be truly heard and listened to don’t match up. That’s according to Rachel Collier, Co-founder and CEO of Young Social Innovators, which, today (06.03.18), launched its National Speak Out Tour in Dublin. The tour will travel 2,000 kilometres over the next four weeks, to eight venues and 15 events, to hear 7,000 teenagers speak out about issues they are concerned about and innovations they are undertaking to address them.
According to Rachel Collier: “Marketeers, advertisers and insight companies are committing huge resources to analysing the preferences and behavioural patterns of young people so they can plan campaigns for future products and technologies. They are the first generation born to be digital, and that’s why there is a massive urge to understand what makes them tick. But despite all of the research, there’s a real deficit in opportunities for young people to be truly heard and listened to. Researchers tell us that Generation Z care about the world they live in and want to make a positive contribution.”
Ms Collier said that on the rare opportunity when Generation Z is given an opportunity to speak and be listened to, they show themselves to be interested, rational and engaged. “In the most recent spate of US school-gun massacres, some of the most considered voices in the debate were those of the young people directly affected. They were united on tackling the problem of gun control, rather than knee-jerk measures. Their considered views outflanked some of the political classes.
“It’s important to create more opportunities to hear the voices of the next generation. We need a pipeline of leaders, innovators and change-makers, and we all must adapt to make the space for this generation to emerge and be heard. These leaders won’t emerge through research and spreadsheets, they will emerge through personal engagement and activism and this is something we want to encourage and facilitate.”
The YSI Speak Out Tour is one channel through which young people can get involved in social issues that matter to them and engage with their peers and wider society in order to effect change. Some of this years’ 400+ projects include:
- ‘Comprehend Before You Send’, by Coláiste Bhríde, Clondalkin, Dublin 22: A project to increase awareness of sexual exploitation and online abuse through sexting and sextortion, and to teach young people about digital safety.
- ‘Off Grid’ by St Fintan’s High School, Sutton, Dublin 13: A project to explore the feasibility of using the renewable energy source of solar power and more efficient electrical equipment in the students’ school.
- ‘The Icitabo Project’, by St Fintan’s High School, Sutton, Dublin 13: The aim of this project is to open a public library for children in Kabwe, Zambia to improve literacy levels. The project team will collect and send books, learn the Bemba language and translate a number of books from English and Irish.
- ‘Don’t Throw Away, Give Away’, by Donahies Community School, Dublin 13: An awareness-raising project that revolves around the 3 Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle.
- ‘A Current Affairs Journal for Young People’, by Portmarnock Community School, Co Dublin: This project team is creating a student focused current affairs website and digital newspaper to better educate their peers on the state of the nation.
- ‘Therappy’, by Loreto Secondary School, Co Wexford: An app using the Daft.ie model, but to help young people access counselling services with a minimum of stress. This team aims to remove every barrier possible to a young person getting the help they require. Filtering down through cost, location, therapy need and availability.
- ‘Friends of the Forest’, by Mercy Mounthawk, Tralee, Co Kerry: This project is about enticing young people and their families to get out into nature and away from screens. The team is working with their local Men’s Shed to build Fairy Houses and create a trail through their local forest.
Each Speak Out event will be attended by hundreds of teenagers who will be given the opportunity to make a two-minute pitch on their solution to a contemporary social challenge to a panel using creative approaches to help make their case, including costume, props and art forms. Local representatives, teachers, parents, organisations, businesses will attend to hear first hand what students have to say. The Speak Out Tour culminates in the annual YSI Ireland Awards on 8th May at Croke Park.
Commenting on 2018 Speak Out Tour Gerry Mallon, CEO of Ulster Bank, YSI’s Official Awards Partner, said: “The YSI Speak Out Tour gives young people a voice on issues that they care about, empowering them in a profound and tangible way. For the past three years, in supporting YSI, Ulster Bank has become so acutely aware of what the next generation has to offer us. What’s clear from the YSI Speak Outs is that young people want to roll up their sleeves and make a real difference. It’s been a privilege for us to give voice to this generation.”
Visit the YSI live project page to find out more about the 2018 projects: www.youngsocialinnovators.ie/projects.