Very proud of our ‘Young Voices’ team, who have been selected as one of three finalists for this year’s UWC Young Aurora prize, along with teams from UWC Pearson ‘Precious Plastic’ and ‘Smokeless Kitchens’ from UWC East Africa. The finalist teams are now preparing to present their projects to the final jury at the Aurora Forum on 18 October at UWC Dilijan in Armenia. The winning team will be granted $4000 towards the further development of their project, while the two other finalist teams are awarded $500 each.
Young Aurora's mission is to encourage, support, and showcase student-driven projects which address concrete humanitarian issues and offer solutions through innovative and sustainable approaches.
Project proposals submitted to compete for Young Aurora funding address a broad and diverse range of humanitarian issues identified in the vicinity of UWC schools and colleges, and often propose close collaborations with local communities.
UWC Atlantic with Young Voices
The Young Voices team found that the lack of civic engagement among young people in Wales is giving rise to a host of societal issues, including deepening inequality, social exclusion and a culture of blame. As the team outlines, “at its core, our project embodies our belief that every young person should actively participate in our society in our capacity as citizens.” They set about designing a peer-led civic education programme for 13 to 18 year olds with the aim of passing on all that they learnt at UWC to help other young people become engaged and compassionate citizens of tomorrow, while also closing the gap they soon discovered between the civic awareness of teenagers from different socioeconomic backgrounds. As one team member, Allegra Nesbitt-Jerman from Canada, reflects, “This project has been an inspiring opportunity for me to take action and share the lessons I have learned about political responsibility with my peers.”
This year, fourteen projects were submitted for the Young Aurora prize by student teams from across twelve UWC schools and colleges and the African Leadership Academy. They address a wide range of issues, from migration to menstrual health and from civic engagement among the young to community support for the elderly. The submitted projects were mentored and evaluated by a host of experienced humanitarians and entrepreneurs along seven core criteria: creativity, sustainability, quality of research, impact, commitment, self-reflection and format. The criteria seek to ensure that the projects are set up with a view to enact a long-term impact. To help meet these goals, the jury provides each team with detailed feedback so that whether they proceed to the final stage in Armenia or not, each project can go on to flourish. Therefore, while the teams each choose a specific issue to tackle, together they are learning the skills to enact a far greater humanitarian change.
The opportunities that Young Aurora offers participating students to refine and build on their skills to become future change-makers is precisely what two members of the jury, Colin Habgood, UWC International Board member and co-founder of GoMakeaDifference and Ivana Situm, UWC alumna and UWC International Council Member, consider to be so invaluable. As Colin points out, “this development opportunity is maybe even more important than the change that their projects are enacting right now”. Ivana adds her “thank you to the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative for bringing out the best in these students and for equipping them to become future leaders in finding sustainable solutions to our world’s problems”.
Umra Omar, founder of Safari Doctors and member of the pre-selection panel who also participated in last year’s event notes: "It is platforms like the Young Aurora initiative that ignite the budding lights for change. This is an investment in the generation that is learning, both from the damage that we have caused and the potential of the humanitarian spirit to overcome this damage. These three impressive projects have chosen to improve our world for future generations. I could not be more proud to call these young change-makers my fellow UWCers!"