At Headstream, we know the power and aptitude of digital technology. We also know that we need to empower the current generation of young people to help build and maintain positive inclusive digital spaces. That’s why we were determined to embrace the virtual possibilities of connecting with our Social Tech Science Fair.
Picture a school gymnasium during a science fair, buzzing with excitement as the teachers make their rounds around the floor to hear from each student share about their project, what it does, and why it’s important to them. Now, imagine that instead of students, innovators with social technologies for youth wellbeing are presenting their ideas, and the experts in the room, the people evaluating them, are the students. Now, imagine all of that happening online.
So on a Saturday afternoon in May, amidst countless virtual graduation ceremonies and concerts, 25 young people from across the country joined the Headstream Innovators for a few hours of virtual collaboration at the Social Tech Science Fair. Over the course of three hours, the youth participants visited various innovators at their “booths” via Zoom breakout rooms, learning about the innovations from the founders while testing out and providing feedback on the platforms, products, and services.
One of our biggest goals at Headstream is to continually ensure that youth voices are a central part of our work and our community, and that they are woven into the work of our innovators. So during the Science Fair, we spent nearly an hour brainstorming and thinking through the principles that young people and innovators need to remember when working with one another.
Headstream innovator Anna Casalme of Novelly primed the conversation by sharing some of the guidelines she uses when working with young people.
What resulted was creative, critical framework, co-developed by young people and innovators, on how innovators can better incorporate youth feedback into their future work while amplifying youth voices.
- Be courageous to be vulnerable → LISTEN to what people say.
- Value each other’s opinions, but don’t be afraid to challenge.
- What young people have to say will not always be delivered in the way that adults may be used to; language is different, but the ideas are still valuable.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
- Allow for privacy - remove “othering” between youth and adults
- Everyone can be an expert in something!
- Your voice is valid!! Be confident in what you have to say!
- Eye-to-eye, an even playing field working together.
We’ll be using these insights to guide our work this summer as Headstream builds more bridges between young people and innovators. Riding the wave of innovation and virtual alternatives, we’re excited to announce this summer’s Youth 2 Innovator (Y2I) Program. This program will provide young people the tools they need to improve digital wellbeing for today’s youth while they progress to the next generation of social tech entrepreneurs ⚡
After three hours of youth-innovator collaboration, Headstream wrapped up the event with a moment of sharing gratitude. During this unprecedented time, Headstream felt it was extra important to thank all participants for showing up and collaborating creatively together. At the end of the session we heard a cacophony of voices expressing gratitude for the event and each other. The Social Tech Science Fair is just one example of how Headstream is changing the way people think about technology to support their wellbeing and the wellbeing of the communities that support them.