Young innovators in North Macedonia join Youth Challenge with #DigitialInclusion solutions
The winning teams were announced during the national judging event held online
This article was originally published by UNICEF North Macedonia.
Skopje, 7 May 2020 – Two teams of young innovators who developed digital solutions to support more active inclusion of children and youth in education and everyday life, were officially selected from five teams to represent the country in the global judging process of the Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge 2019/2020.
Aiming to inspire young people with brilliant ideas, but without the resources to bring them to life, the Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge 2019/20 is taking place in 41 countries worldwide, including our country as part of a UNICEF and Foundation Telekom for Macedonia partnership.
"Generation Unlimited is a great initiative that creates space for young people to inspire us, encourage modernization and investment in education, improve employment opportunities through skills acquisition, and build awareness of civic activism, helping communities design own projects and creative functional solutions," said President Pendarovski in his address at the final national event of this year's "Generation Unlimited - Youth Challenge".
The top two teams selected – team “Bionic” with their low cost robotic arm and team “Mind Benders” with their digital restaurant menu inclusive and accessible to all - will be awarded $2000 from Foundation Telekom for Macedonia and be submitted to a global judging process for a chance to receive further funding of up to $20,000, along with a tailored global incubation programme from Generation Unlimited partners to support them to scale.
“The goal of this challenge was to encourage young people to use technology as a tool to serve people. In the digital society we are building, the biggest challenge is how to reduce the digital divide, how to get everyone involved, without exception. Technology is a really powerful tool, and especially now that social isolation has accelerated digitalisation, the most important thing is to learn to use it for good,” said Nikola Ljusev, Chief Executive Officer, Makedonski Telekom.
Team “Something Unordinary” with their mobile app Walkiie that connects volunteers with children and young people with intellectual disabilities to organise social activities received an honorary third place and will receive $1000 from Foundation Telekom for Macedonia and additional local mentoring support to continue to rollout their initiative.
“Now more than ever, we understand the importance of creating equitable opportunities so that every child, including children with disabilities, have a fair chance to fulfil their potential. With the current need for physical distancing, we also have a better appreciation of the importance of using digital technology to make these opportunities a reality. Furthermore, after seeing the amazing results of work of the young people engaged in this challenge, there is no dilemma that when given the space, young people have the drive, creativity and ability to take the lead on finding solutions that bring positive change in their lives, but also for their communities,” said Patrizia Di Giovanni, UNICEF Representative.
More information about the two winning teams and their ideas:
Team "Bionic": Targeting the problems of inaccessibility, difficult or impossible adaptability and the high cost of this type of aids such as prosthetic hand, the team built its digital solution in the form of an online, free and open service for all. They offer guidelines and instructions to help individuals build their prosthetic bionic arm, allowing for tailoring to the dimensions that suit each individual user, guides on how to print the parts using a 3D printer or through a 3D printing service and assembling instructions. Their research found that currently the market offers solutions that exceed tens of thousands of euros, while their solution can be made for as little as 100 to 200 euros.
Team "Mind Benders": Aim to remove barriers that people with disabilities face accessing restaurants, cafes, bakeries and other catering services. Their mobile application "Digital Menu" (Digital Menu) includes a library of digitized restaurant menus that have been adapted to be accessible for people with impaired vision, hearing impairment, dyslexia and those living with autism. Working directly with restaurant owners the team have managed to make accessible menus from more than twenty five restaurants and plan to further expand to introduce a accessible option to order deliveries online.
A full video of the online final judging event can be found here:
About Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge
The Generation Unlimited Youth challenge 2019/2020 is taking place in 41countries worldwide, including ours - called for applications from young people to create solutions that will support the three key pillars of Generation Unlimited: secondary-age education; skills for learning, employability and decent work; and empowerment.
In our country, the national youth challenge is part of a UNICEF and Foundation Telekom for Macedonia partnership, implemented by Smart Up Social Innovation Lab with local support by the Macedonian Scouts Association. Through a public call, young people were invited to offer innovative answers to the question “How can digital technology contribute towards a more active inclusion of children and youth in education and everyday life?”. Successful applicants were invited to take part in design workshops and the five most promising ideas were awarded USD 1,000 each in funding and provided with mentoring to support the projects’ implementation. To find out more about Generation Unlimited in North Macedonia visit https://www.genunlimited.mk/