Marriott Alumni Magazine

Ballard Center 2015-16 Annual Report

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How a Changemaker is Made Social Innovation Projects By Alex Burch What's the most important job in the world? Well, if you ask Ashoka, the world's largest network of social entrepreneurs, the answer might surprise you—it's being a parent. In a new initiative called Parenting Changemakers, Ashoka wanted to see what their social entrepreneurs had to say about the role of their parents. "We thought, 'How can we do this?' " says Ashoka program coordinator Mentor Dida. "That's when we contacted the Ballard Center." Ashoka joined forces with a team of Ballard Center students: Sarah Farnsworth, Lucy Lu, Austin Pena, Sarah Oldham, and Jacquelyn Winger. Together they set off to discover what common characteristics successful changemakers share, and what parents can do to raise socially conscientious children who are capable of making a positive impact in the world. To find out, the team went straight to the source and interviewed thirty-one Ashoka fellows from across the globe. They learned three things that parents can do to help their children make big changes: 1. Expose their child to a variety of cultures and lifestyles at an early age 2. Give their child opportunities to take on leadership and responsibility 3. Seek to foster their child's curiosity To make this more concrete, the students put together a list of 101 activities that parents can adopt with their children—all activities that Ashoka fellows say they participated in during their childhoods. The activities may seem simple—such as helping children open a lemonade stand, explore a nearby forest, or write a family newspaper—but they can teach essential skills such as team work, leadership, and empathy. "The project instilled in me a stronger belief in the effect that parents have on their children and the responsibility we all have to build strong families," says Oldham, a strategy senior. The research was part of the Ballard Center's Social Innovation Projects (SIP), an internship program that allows students to work with top-tier social entrepreneurs from campus. "The fact that we're able to support a worldwide leader in this phase of social innovation speaks volumes to the quality of our program and the experience our students are getting through SIP," says Alicia Becker, adjunct instructor. "BYU interns in Provo get to associate with some of the world's most renowned social innovators." Now that the research is there, Ashoka is working on designing a tool-kit and training program for interested parents. "The most important job in the world doesn't require any training," Dida says. "People assume it's a natural-born talent that you know how to raise children, but that's really not the case. Parenting needs time, attention, and resources to be effective. We're very proud that we're getting our message across to parents and that we got to work with BYU for that." "the ProjeCt instilled in me a stronger belIef in the effeCt that parents have on their Children and the resPonsibility we all have to buIld strong families." —sarah Oldham 10

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