by Alejandro Torres Frías

I was just chatting with a cousin of mine who lives in Concepción, in the south of Chile, and he was telling me about a social program he’s working on.  It’s called “Quiero Mi Barrio” (I Love my Neighborhood). The objective of this program, which is financed by the Chilean Government, is to help young people and children at risk in lower income communities through different educational and sporting activities.  Since my cousin participates in the PR and Organizing of the different activities of this program, we had been disscusing several weeks back about the possibility of me flying down for a week to teach a few classes on Basic Computer Literacy (pro-bono) to young people who are part of the program.  As we discuss different possibilities in regards with contents, objectives, class lenghts and dates of travel, we find ourselves evolving into an interesting combination of topics that could help motivate these children and teenagers.  The 3 topics we agree should be on my presentations, are the Internet, Entrepreneurship and Fitness, with a strong component of motivation and inspiration.

Internet
There’s no doubt the Internet and computer use is one of the most important tools an individual can have to help his/her intellectual, artistic and/or professional development.  Providing these people with the key and basic elements of search, research, mediums (video, writing, audio), free Web 2.0 technologies and, let’s say creation, like MS Office, and Paint), along with clear and simple examples and recommendations that can make them relate to the contents easily, could be a good start on this Seminar.

Entrepreneurship
When we think about entrepreneurship, many different images and concepts go through our minds.  Depending on one’s experience and perspective, we may think of 2 guys working on a garage, a Home Business or maybe a struggling business or successful corporation or business icon who may or may have not gone to College.  But we can also think about microcredit or lower income entrepreneurship.  According to a Harvard study, youth entrepreneurship programs can be very effective on keeping students from low-income environments on track with school and college, with the added benefit of helping them drive themselves toward goals, achievements and leadership.

Fitness
I know I’m not on the best shapes to be talking about fitness lately, but I still have the experience of about 10 years of hard training in the gym (weights), and training outdoors with different sports mostly between the ages of 20 and 30.  Fitness changed my life, it helped me gain confidence and set goals.  It helped me desire, plan and accomplish.  I think it even kept me out of drugs and excessive partying.  Fitness can help anybody be more healthy and self-respectful, it can help you focus better and even transmit skills to other areas of your life.  I am a certified fitness instructor, and would certainly look forward to motivate these kids to start being more active, sharing with them the fulfillments that fitness brought to my life.

What started as a couple 90 minute Basic Computer Literacy classes, ended up being a 3 day, 18 hour Multi-Purpose Seminar on Internet, Entrepreneurship and Fitness that will hopefully make a really big difference on these people who strongly need the motivation to be and do better, to dream and to improve their lives and communities.  I trully hope this innovation will make a difference.  I will make sure to post when I’m teaching this Seminar in Concepción in a couple of months.

And you? What social innovation do you believe would make a difference with communities and young people in need?  Let me know in the comments.

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