On Feb. 2 post-secondary students and young professionals are invited to participate in Impact Jam 613, a civic hack-a-thon organized by Global Shapers Ottawa. The one-day pilot project is an opportunity for youth to learn about local civic issues and work together alongside decision-makers to develop innovative solutions.
“We perceived young people’s need and desire to be involved and help address and solve some of the most complicated multi-dimensional issues that our city faces,” says Christian Robillard, the organizer of the project.
Impact Jam 613 aims to flip back conventional youth engagement by getting people off the bench and in the game. On top of offering the opportunity to engage further in a certain issue by learning from councillors and community leaders, youth will be involved in the decision-making process.
“We want to put the power to make this change happen in the hands of younger people and get them connected with the organizations that are working in their particular issue area,” explains Robillard. “We want to offer them the opportunities to meet mentors, get support, funding opportunities and people who are willing to help all in one space; ultimately moving from being passionate about a certain issue, to actually working on a project in partnership with an organization that has expertise in the area.”
The project wants to meet Ottawa’s standards on diversity and inclusiveness. Therefore, no prior policy or community relations experience is required to participate, however applications must be submitted by Jan. 19 at 9 a.m.
“We are really looking for a variety of personalities and experiences, just like in the real world where you don’t necessarily get to work with people who are similar to you,” says the organizer. “This way we aim to come up with solutions that will represent and benefit the largest amount of people.”
Laura Weller, a fourth-year student in biology and computer science at the University of Ottawa, is interested in learning more of the impacts youth can make in Ottawa.
“I think as someone who has been going to a lot of hack-a-thons in computer science, the fact that this idea is now being used as a platform of collaboration and co-participation in more of a local community context is very interesting to me,” explains Weller. “I think it first, informs youth about the problems that we are facing on a local scale and secondly, encourages participation in fixing them.”
As part of our local Global Shapers chapter, Robillard is passionate about civic engagement and has been actively participating in public consultations over the past few years. From his experience, he noticed a lack of continuous coaching and support following a public consultation.
Through Impact Jam 613, Robillard and his team are putting the emphasis on long-term engagement with youth. “After the actual day, we are going to have a ton of follow-up opportunities, support, and guidance available on a long term basis for youth so they won’t be left high and dry,” says Robillard.
Until then, Global Shapers Ottawa’s goal is to youth, experts, and politicians, “to create something really meaningful for our city and make it a better place.”
For more informations on the pilot project , visit Impact Jam 61.