Youth Design Helps Urban Teens Find Path

by Nikki Korn

“Opened my eyes to possibilities.”  “Embraced and treated me like a professional.”  “Best summer of my life.”  These are some of the many testimonials that the audience heard from teens at the 2011 Youth Design graduation.  For many, this was the first time they had stepped out of their neighborhoods and into the design community.

This summer, twenty-eight lucky Boston, urban high school students were chosen for coveted paid summer jobs in the design world through the Youth Design program.   Teens were paired with professional mentors at design and architecture firms, corporate design departments, university creative teams, and at ad agencies where they worked full-time for seven weeks.  They were welcomed onto design teams to become part of collaborative and individual projects that quickly showed them how design translates to a range of careers and tangible assignments across many industries and fields.  They also realized how design is a part of every facet of our lives; impacting where we live, work, travel, and play. 

On August 18, these twenty-eight students graduated from the Youth Design program inspired, proud, and sad to leave this summer learning experience mostly because of their amazing mentors and host organizations who had dedicated seven weeks of coaching and support.  Whether they were working at an e-retailer like Karmaloop, within a department at Northeastern University, or at a company like Blue Cross Blue Shield, students quickly learned about the essentials of effective communications, deadlines, thorough research, attention to details, and just pure hard work.

As the sponsor of the summer’s individual design assignment – Time to Design Competition – our team at Cause Consulting was especially proud to see what the Youth Designers accomplished.  Their creativity, talent, and perspective was powerful as they created and shared their work about a social issue that was important to them.  From statements on teen suicide to anti-bullying to fighting homophobia, these kids showed the adult audience that their lives are truly challenged each day when they wake up.  During the competition process, they were never left on their own — each had a virtual, experienced designer coaching them through the process until their final entry.  You must check out the winning designs showcased in Mark’s causenation blog!

Here’s to the importance of reaching out to our young people and giving them a chance to shine and contribute!  Our team can’t wait to see what these talented Youth Designers do next!

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