UPSHIFT program of social innovations is coming to Belarus

UPSHIFT is a youth social innovation programme that empowers marginalised young people to identify and design solutions to challenges in their communities. Through this process they gain skills for employment and skills for life. And now UPSHIFT is coming to Belarus!

UPSHIFT is a great platform for engaging youth, developing 21st century skills and acquiring skills for employment and entrepreneurship. UPSHIFT is not one single set of tools, rather it is a methodology and approach to providing skills development and empowerment to marginalised youth. The methodology contains some core elements that are transferable across country and cultural borders, however it is flexible enough to allow for significant localisation and customisation to the implementing context.

As part of the social innovation program, adolescents and young people create new technologies and implement innovative, and most importantly, necessary and vital projects. For example, at UPSHIFT in Kharkiv (Ukraine), a team of young people created a technology that helps children learn how to use the fingerprint (manual) alphabet to communicate with non-hearing people. And in Kosovo, adolescents implemented a project for recycling waste, turning it into organic fertilizers for plants.

The UPSHIFT methodology was first introduced in Kosovo, and is now being implemented in 16 countries. And on July 31–August 2, a three-day workshop for trainers was held in Minsk. Its goal was to prepare UNICEF in Belarus and its partners for the planned implementation of UPSHIFT in Belarus. During the workshop, every phase of the process and the UPSHIFT implementation guide has been covered both theoretically and with practical examples. Training highlighted best practices, common issues, challenges and obstacles that may occur during UPSHIFT implementation.

The UPSHIFT initiative has been be covered from an organizer’s, mentor’s and participant’s perspective. The goal is to prepare the trainers for the issues that they will be facing and walk them through every step of the process from the outreach campaign to the mentoring and implementation of the youth initiative. 30 trainers and mentors from Belarus took part in the UPSHIFT workshop.