The YouthMADE Festival is a global, two-week celebration of youth creativity and innovation where students, educators, and advocates around the world showcase student-led projects in making, activism, art, and design. This year’s YouthMADE Festival from May 15-28 offered 10 live events from hosts around the world with over 500 people registered to take part in celebrating creative and innovative student work.
Following the conclusion of the 2023 YouthMADE Festival, we’re excited to announce the youth creators and changemakers who received nominations for our first ever YouthMADE Festival Community Awards. The YouthMADE Festival Community Awards invite teachers, students, families and community members around the world to recognize students who presented at the YouthMADE Festival. Join us in celebrating eight students who are using creativity and innovation to make a difference on hunger, the environment, justice, and more.
Abhinanda, a student at Santamayee Girls High School in Puralia, West Bengal, India, led her team of peers in the project Fostering Good Health, Nutrition and Well-Being. Their project addresses improving children’s nutrition in their community and supporting women’s livelihoods by creating fish farms at their school.
As the leader of her group, Abhinanda’s teacher Susmita Roy Chowdhury says she “displayed excellent leadership abilities by helping the members in collaborating successfully on the project. Her dedication to finding viable solutions for dealing with many of the most threatening issues faced by the world today is praiseworthy and it is this urge of hers that has functioned as a major motivating factor in the development of this project.”
Chowdhury goes on to praise her YouthMADE Festival presentation, in which Abhinanda shared on behalf of her teammates: “She succeeded in not only highlighting the difficulties faced by the people of her community but also how students can work as change-makers for a better tomorrow. Her zeal has spread the passion of doing something for the betterment of people among her peers also.”
Abigail is a student filmmaker and a recipient of Gwinnett County Public Schools’ career, technical, and agricultural education student of the year award. Mikaela is a student graphic designer. Both are rising college freshmen and student artists participating in the Teens Media Network program by Colectivo Piloto, a program supporting young people to create multimedia, build skills, and think critically in a rapidly changing world.
Speaking to their nomination, mentor Kolinda Scialabba said she appreciated “their honesty and openness to share their opinions and voice what matters to them.” Pablo Herrera, founder of Colectivo Piloto celebrates “their entrepreneurial and collaborative work mindset. They embody a spirit of innovation, creativity, and resourcefulness, approaching challenges with a proactive and solution-oriented approach. This mindset empowers them to think outside the box, seek opportunities for growth, and turn ideas into impactful actions.”
Aline and her team at E.E Dr. Secundino Dominguez Filho / Centro de Mídias da Educação de São Paulo in São Paulo, Brazil worked on Engaging Youth Protagonism Through Safe Zones, a program creating spaces at school for students to be safe from harassment, discrimination, and bullying. Her teacher Edmundo Gomes Jr. celebrates “how her sense of aesthetics brings a new approach to the project.”
Gomes adds, “Aline is a student who reached me during online classes. During the pandemic crisis she was able to create a network among students all around the State of São Paulo and they worked together in both projects submitted to the Ciena Solutions Challenge. At that time she also shared class contents with other students who could not access online classes. For this year’s project she engaged school students and administrators to create safe zones at her school, planning the action and gathering resources.”
Based in São Paulo, Hevellin and her peers worked on Animals Cry for Help, a campaign advocating for cruelty-free practices in the cosmetics industry. Through creating social media content, meeting with their leaders of city council, and engaging directly with their peers, they increased students’ awareness of animal testing and promoted the use of cruelty-free products. Hevellin’s teacher Edmundo Gomes Jr. says “although the group is very young, they have already achieved a great deal.”
About Hevelin, Gomes adds, “She has been developing a project against animal testing since sixth grade, and her group’s work has been presented in many states in Brazil. Although they made the project with almost no funding, they could raise resources to travel to other areas to raise awareness about this subject. Hevellin also has been an example of a protagonist student, since she participated in online classes during the pandemic and helped to develop materials for other students and she’s been able to communicate in English, which is not her mother tongue.”
Luka, Nino, and Tiko at Sachkhere Public School 2 in Sackhere, Georgia, created bio-diesel, an alternative fuel source made from vegetable oils, yellow grease, used cooking oils, and animal fats. With biodiesel, their goal is to create a more environmentally friendly source of energy that can be used to power everyday vehicles.
The team’s nominators praised the group and their project with comments such as, “It was a very innovative, different project” and “They are the best team with the greatest project. I appreciate their wish to live with a healthy environment.” Another nominator added that “I liked that they were organized for this engagement, at the same time I liked their clear way of speaking and the topics in general were interesting.”
Join us as we celebrate and showcase stories of youth creativity and innovation year-round.