Generation Unlimited — Youth Challenge

The adventure begins!

Wondering what Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge is?

Generation Unlimited is a global partnership that aims to ensure that every young person is in education, learning, training or employment by 2030. It is based on the expertise of young people, government representatives, multilateral organisations, the private sector and the civil community in order to initiate immediate investment in education, trainings and provide the right skills to the rapidly increasing global population of adolescents and youngsters (between the ages of 10 to 24) which is predicted to reach 2 billion people in 2030.

The youth challenge aims to free the creativity and ideas of young people around the world.

It is an inclusive designing process which in Macedonia is calling all you, the young people to actively engage as “decision-makers” and design innovative solutions in order to put an end to violence against and among children. This is the first challenge of its kind, taking place in 16 countries around the world. Each countries best and most promising solutions will receive financing and mentorship and the top 5 solutions globally will receive additional financing and specifically designed support from the Generation Unlimited partners.

Why did we decide on “How can we end violence against and among children?” as a topic of the youth challenge in Macedonia?

Children should feel safe at home, in school and in their communities. But it is in these places that most violence against children happens — often at the hands of the people they see every day. For many children, violence wears a familiar face. Violence may be closer to home than you think.

In our country, half of the children aged 2–14 experience physical punishment in the home. 8 in 10 parents report using violent methods (psychological or physical punishment) to raise children. Violence among peers is also happening every day. As many as 42% of thirteen to fifteen-year-old boys and girls report being bullied at school and/or having been involved in a physical fight. Bullying is also happening online, where the perpetrators remain anonymous, but the consequences devastating.

“I am not ashamed to admit it, I have been both the aggressor and the victim of violence against and among children, at home, at school and on the streets. I just want the violence to finally stop.” — Participant, 17.

It is time to take action and make a change!

No child should grow up with fear. Fear limits generations from believing in themselves. Fear limits generations from building healthy relationships. Fear limits generations from realising their potential. And all this limits generations from growing up into productive citizens.

So, what have we been up to so far?

As we are counting down the hours until the beginning of the main, three-day workshop for Generation Unlimited — Youth Challenge let us take a look of the activities that took place these couple of weeks!

We met the ten amazing teams of young, innovative, and inspired people at the Introductory Workshop for the challenge on the 9th of November at the National and University Library “St. Clement of Ohrid” in Skopje, where they had the opportunity to get to know each other and get much needed advice on how to go about developing their solutions to the challenge: How can we end violence against and among children?

The Introductory Workshop was opened with the welcoming words from our teammate, the Main Facilitator of the challenge Sofija Bogeva and the Executive Assistant and Innovation Focal Point at UNICEF Simona Ristoska, who encouraged and motivated the teams and expressed their excitement to be a part of such an initiative.

As the teams gathered around their working stations, we then engaged into a discussion about the values and expectations of the challenge. After that, the teams got insight into the methodology of design thinking, a tool which will provide guidance in the process of developing their innovative solutions. The teams were also able to be proactive and worked on the big picture of their solution, mapping out stakeholders and the needs of the community. As the end of our agenda for the day was approaching, final instructions were given to the teams on how to continue their preparations at home.

Last night, we gathered together with all of the participants to watch the film Hördur — Zwischen den Welten (Hördur — Between Worlds), provided to us by the Goethe-Institut Skopje and Cinematheque of Macedonia. We cozy-ed up and started the screening. The film told a moving story of peer violence, the consequences it leaves in young people’s lives and the difficult journey of one young woman overcoming the trauma and initiating change.

The film left a truly strong impression on everyone, so we took the time to reflect and discuss on the topics which the film covered, deepening our understanding on violence against and among children.

And as they say, it’s always better to go an adventure together rather than alone!

On the 13th of November we had the pleasure to be accompanied by miss Hana Sahatqija from the UNICEF Innovations Lab Kosovo who facilitated an extremely helpful “Training the Trainers” session focused on the successful implementation of Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge into our local community. Her training and advice gave us, as a team and the mentors of the main workshop, great direction and we believe guidance like this is crucial in developing good events and long-lasting initiatives which will benefit our community.

And the adventure continues!

This weekend, the 10 teams participating in the Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge, with the help of the mentors, will be developing their ideas into MVPs (minimum viable products) — solutions to specific and targeted issues within the scope of one of the three main challenges:

  1. How can we create support system, platforms, connect role models, for victims that will make it easier for them to report and seek help from professionals and peers?
  2. How can we reduce bullying, cyberbullying and violence among young people in and around schools including public spaces and public transport?
  3. How can we change perceptions and attitudes among adults (e.g. parents, teachers, etc.) towards meaningful engagement of adolescents and young people in their communities?

So, follow us along the adventure that is Generation Unlimited — Youth challenge through our social media outlets and stay tuned for our next blog, where we get to see the amazing work of the 45 young innovators inspired to make a change!