By: Attilio Tonin (Volunteer and Student in Education Program at the University of Ottawa)
Up4 The Challenge and their workshops inspire youth to improve people’s lives through the use of STEM content and design. As a student in the teacher education program at the University of Ottawa, I saw an immediate connection to my teachable of Biology, Sciences and Mathematics. Topics of climate change, innovation and sustainable solutions were inviting to me prior to signing-up. What I didn’t know at the time was the inclusive culture Up4 The Challenge was promoting with their interdisciplinary approaches to positive social change. Their workshops are intended to be inclusive, aspiring contributions to common goals through the welcome and value of different viewpoints. Students are asked to start from a place of compassion, empathy and integrity. Growing from there, students are made to feel like they are a part of something important, something current and far-reaching.
From the very first email, I immediately felt this welcoming approach. Their values of diversity, collaboration, and creativity were on display the moment I was brought into their creative process. My ideas were not only asked for, but listened to and I felt I was contributing to the greater team goals. Their leadership and genuine compassion fostered the community atmosphere that led to successful workshops and activities. Any reflection of my time with Up4 The Challenge should have begun with a big thank you, but instead I will end with one. Andrea Hemmerich, Lauren Folk and the rest of the Up4 The Challenge crew made me feel welcomed and instantly part of the learning team. Thank you for this invaluable experience and modelling what an inclusive culture of innovation can be.