Young people in Ballarat are thinking creatively to solve community problems and bring their ideas to life.
Students from Mount Rowan Secondary College and Ballarat Grammar pitched their big ideas to community leaders as part of the Crazy Ideas College Social Innovators program this week.
The Social Innovators program is designed to build young people's capacity to lead change and bring real-world learning into the school day.
Crazy Ideas College founder Kieran Murrihy said he saw sophistication in the young people's ideas.
"They have done fantastic work in terms of really understanding where they can make a difference around the issues they care about," he said.
Twenty-six Year 8 students from Mount Rowan and 25 Year 9 students from Ballarat Grammar came together at the Ballarat Tech School last fortnight for two days of intensive learning.
Students split into groups, identified issues they cared about, were encouraged to think of 'crazy big' ideas to address the issues and then 'shrink' their ideas to something they could achieve this year.
The students worked together to refine their idea pitches and prepare them for presentation to their peers and a panel of community leaders during separate school events on Thursday and Friday.
Ballarat Grammar students Amy Gosby and Holly Douglas pitched their idea for Passion Program, a mentoring program connecting people in the community to encourage them to follow their dreams and make friends.
"It was amazing we were offered a real chance to put our idea into the real world rather than having it left alone to not make a change," Amy said.
"I learnt a lot about the design process and how to make something come to life, from turning an idea into a real project.
"In the future hopefully we can create more ideas like this or expand on this idea. I will continue to use these skills probably for the rest of my life and in the workforce."
Holly said the program was an opportunity to come up with a new idea she had never considered before.
"I am most looking forward to advancing my idea by putting it out into the community, running the program, getting feedback and learning how to make it into something even bigger and better," she said.
Mount Rowan Secondary College student Ella Evans was a part of a group that pitched an idea for a program called Teaching Tech, offering workshops in retirement homes to share technology skills.
Ella said she was nervous to pitch her idea initially, but her confidence increased throughout the program.
"I felt pretty good after getting it done. It was nice to know I built that confidence," she said.
"I am excited about making our idea come to life."
Mount Rowan Secondary College student Henry Brennan pitched an idea to create a machine that collected plastic from the ocean.
"I learnt leadership when it comes to picking an idea and teamwork when it comes to creating an idea. We had three different ideas and had to pick the one we liked," he said.
Ballarat Grammar student Nate Sadhai said he was excited to see his team's idea for a Moon Cafe come to life.
The cafe would be a safe space for people in the LGBTIQ+ community which hosted an eating space, a stage, all-access bathrooms, a cinema and free therapy and counselling.
"This is something I really wanted and a lot of my friends really wanted," he said.
Ivy Clark, also on the Moon Cafe team, said she felt grateful to have community partners listen to her idea and help make it a reality.
"The highlight has been talking to like minded people and people who are willing to listen to my ideas, make them a reality and encourage me to explore my interests," she said.
Mr Murrihy said community partners from organisations including Ballarat Health Services, City of Ballarat and Ballarat Community Health helped connect students with people who could help bring their ideas to life.
"Each of the schools is providing the opportunity for their students to continue to work on their ideas," he said.
Other groups' ideas included a program that teaches school students life skills, replacing plastic fruit and vegetables bags with paper bags embedded with seeds for planting and an app to help teenagers make new friends who have similar interests.
People in Ballarat can read about all of the young people's ideas, provide comments and vote for them on the CIC Beyond website at cicbeyond.com/home/ballaratyounginnovatorsforum-2.
More young people will participate in Crazy Ideas College in term three.
Mr Murrihy thanks Committee for Ballarat and local businesses for their support.
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