Shifa Institute held a “Solutions Focused Youth Summit” in Sydney on Saturday 23 June 2018 at the Rydges Hotel, Bass Hill.

The Summit captured the most exciting, innovative and creative ideas of young people in NSW.

More than 50 Youth were brought together to be challenged to put their innovation caps on and to solve some of the pressing issues in society around four key areas.

These included: Science and Technology, Environment, Education and Social Issues. The theme of the Summit was “BE THE CHANGE”.

The Summit was funded by the NSW Government, with over 50 young attendees aged between 9 and 24 years.

The day was opened by Sheikh Ahmed Abdo, who said the objective of the day was “to have some fun and engage in practical sessions to look at how to solve problems in life”.

The NSW Minister for Multiculturalism, Mr Ray Williams MP delivered the opening address to the young attendees with motivating stories of how simple ideas can lead to an innovation that radically transforms society. The crucial part he noted, was to never give up, but to remain determined to find a solution until every avenue was exhausted. Ghaith Krayem, from Hikmah Consulting, facilitated problem solving sessions that taught students how to identify and analyse a problem.

The attendees were divided into the categories that explored one of the four broader issues. Some of these included driverless cars, virtual reality classrooms, homelessness, environmental degradation, pollution, global warming and many more. After being briefed on their given category by mentors who had background information on the topic, each group was encouraged to delve into their creativity, find solutions to the problems and present these using the abundant resources available.

Some created multimedia presentations, speeches and slideshows while others created short videos using media resources, on their solutions. A popup recording studio with special lighting captured the innovative solutions that were presented in an engaging and creative manner. There was a buzz of activity to observe: some young people recording videos by the poolside, others recording a news interview in the studio, some on a laptop creating a slideshow, and others putting coloured pens to paper!

It was so refreshing to see positive and innovative ideas coming from the young and bright minds in the community.

At the end of the presentations, Sheikh Abdo called upon students to write about their previously held assumptions before the summit, to what they now believe.  Perhaps the response that captured the spirit of the summit most, was the note that had written on it “I thought I could not change anything” to “Now, I believe I can make a difference”.

Shifa Institute, with its many volunteers and dedicated parents of attendees, should be congratulated for fostering an innovative culture among the youth. It was an event that challenged youth to think outside the box and find solutions to some of the bigger issues in society. It was lovely to see the summit was open to young people of all faiths, cultures and educational backgrounds.

Students came from a variety of schooling methods, including homeschooling, selective schools, public schools, and private schools. This gathering ignited a spark in the minds of youth which could potentially lead to bright ideas in the future.