”Let the youth lead” is a phrase we hear often. It is a belief in our youth and a commitment to support them. Youth have the expertise and energy to take their experiences and present ideas on how to solve some of the most pressing challenges of our time, provided that they are given a chance. They can create innovations to improve their lives and communities. 

RLabs partners with UNICEF on the Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge, an initiative that brings together youth from 41 countries to design solutions to improve education and employment. During COVID19 Lockdown in South Africa, RLabs utilised WhatsApp as the primary tool to host a first of its kind Virtual Bootcamp that was attended by 56 youth across the country. This approach symbolised the innovative nature and intention of the Youth Challenge, since it required the RLabs Innovation team to change a planned in-person Bootcamp to an online facilitated event.

The 3 DAY Virtual Bootcamp was hosted by RLabs facilitators and coaches, guiding and equipping Bootcamp participants with the resources to define a problem, ideate how to solve it, and then ultimately to create a prototype of the solution. 

All participants were split into 11 smaller groups, with each participant having to work with their teammates from their homes, using only their mobile phone and WhatsApp to chat, brainstorm, create and make decisions to achieve their team goals. The Virtual Bootcamp was enhanced by having team coaches, design thinking templates, video, audio, image and text guides that could be easily consumed, interpreted and used. 

“You guys honestly rock! Thank you for creating a platform that encourages working towards change without making it feel like work. Thank you for targeting the youth to alleviate problems facing the youth, this opportunity has taught me to stretch my level of thinking and outlined the importance of teamwork. Together Everyone Achieves More!” – Participant, Nonhlakanipho Ntuli

“As from today when I have a problem, I will first map it out accordingly before applying a solution.” – Participant, Sweety Ntshangase

With South Africa’s youth unemployment rate of close to 60%, initiatives like this are instrumental in supporting youth to build innovative solutions.The final stage of the Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge will enable selected youth to build their prototypes, culminating in a global event where two teams will participate and stand a chance to receive an award of $20,000. 

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