Since the first launch of The Champions programme by Youth Works Asia a few months ago it was with lots of excitement for me to travel back to visit RLabs in Asia and see how the champions are doing. The trip personally was confirmation that when you give young people the opportunity to do good and create the environment for them to grow that the results will be more than you can ever imagine.
After the Borneo Youth Transformation Lab that happened in March, where we also launched the RLabs movement in Asia, many of the young people in Sarawak in Malaysia were hyped up and ready to start moving and take action to bring change to their community.
Because of what happened during the lab, the birth of a holistic and empowering program for the youth of Sarawak happened. This program is named The Champions. The Champions is an outreach effort to create agents of change among young people whom will drive a positive impact in communities and organizations thus contributing to the nation’s growth.
Basically, it is a champion creating another champion. An inspired selfless youth reaching out to another friend to be inspired and selfless, which in turn creates a ripple effect among the youth community. The youth are not only encouraged to give back to the society, but also The Champions allows them to receive experiences and skills, like Financial Intelligence, Social Entrepreneurship, Social Media for Social Change, Public Speaking, Event Management and others that helps them to increase their own value.
On 12th June 2011, the start of The Champions programme was launched. Thirty young people from all races and nationalities gathered at Swinburne University of Technology for the first session, Champions: Discovery. Here, young people are putting themselves outside their comfort zones and contributing ideas on what the present youth needs and wants are. Instead of asking the usual “What can you do for us?”, the youth are saying, “This is what we can do.”
The outcome of the session were projects like a youth festival to be held for the first time in Kuching, an outreach program that helps underprivileged kids by providing free education and many others. After Champions: Discovery, up next will be Champions : Empowerment Series where there will be weekly sessions that covers topics from Financial Intelligence to Social Media. The first step is taken, now begins the journey of The Champions. “YES WE CAN”
Since the visit to Malaysia and Singapore a month ago it is with great excitement to see how the RLabs Champions have taken to task in making a difference in the lives of other. One of the projects by RLabs Asia is creating programmes for Non-profits, NGOs and Social Organisations who can benefit from the use of Social Media for Social Change.
Each group of Champions will be working closely with a organisation doing work on the ground in a local community in Asia and provide support in how Social Media and Mobile Technology can be used to enhance the work these organisations are doing. To read more about the RLabs Asia team visit their blog and we will keep you updated about this exciting initiative where we see young people impacting their communities using the technology tools and skills they use daily.
As a young boy I would never have anticipated that I will ever have the opportunity to visit places outside of Cape Town due to circumstances that prevented it. But as with most young people I had a dream to travel and to make a difference. The journey of that dream started 3 years ago when I was divinely inspired to use my talents and story to impact the life of another person through providing hope. It was there on the Cape Flats in Bridgetown that we started a movement with a few community champions, with little resources, people who mostly had no formal education, were the least qualified by world standards but had so much passion for change in their communities and their stories of hope that started this Social Revolution.
Fast forward three years and the movement is in 5 other countries and now for the next chapter RLabs being launched in Asia. This trip to Asia was one of so much excitement and being my first time here was something that I did not expect. Although only here for a few days I managed to adopt Singapore as my new home country, learned some Singlish “Singaporean English” and to eat with chopsticks as well as meet the most amazing and talented group of people.
It was when the realisation kicked in after a few hours what has just transpired at the RLabs Asia launch that one of my dreams has just come true. It was not about the travelling or seeing new places that impacted me, but most of all it was seeing a group of young people in another part of the world being empowered and being hopeful of their future that really got me going. Through this movement and Social Revolution it is seeing a generation who are so in tune with the latest technologies and yet have a heart for change that will ensure the reconstruction of nations through Innovation.
After an eventful day in meetings it is with great excitement that we are launching a RLabs (Reconstructed Living Lab) in Malaysia, South-East Asia by next semester. This new initiative being part of the RLabs family will see the growth of Social and Community Innovation growing beyond local contexts but to global communities. This partnership with a local non-profit in Malaysia will see the first of its kind expansion of a Community-driven approach to Innovation in Communities in Tension.
More information about RLabs Asia will be posted here soon but for now an information pack on RLabs can be downloaded here.