04 March 2021, 0 Comments

Guambra Leads, LlactaHuerto, and Active Minds are DreamLAB’s winning projects

Adolescents and young people from Quito lead proposals to improve the living conditions of their neighborhoods with the support of the United Nations, the Municipality, and the Youth Assembly for Sustainability

After six months of implementation, the pilot phase of DreamLAB in Quito ends, an initiative aimed at adolescents and youth that emerges as a response to the socio-economic crisis derived from the COVID-19 pandemic and seeks to build safe, inclusive, and resilient neighborhoods and communities.

The initiative relies on the leadership of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), with the collaboration of the Economic Promotion Agency of Quito (ConQuito) and the Youth Assembly for Sustainability (Tandari).

The first stage of DreamLAB concludes after ten weeks of virtual counseling, training, and workshops. 91 adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 24 received 60 hours of training in life skills, problem recognition and project ideation, prototyping sessions, storytelling, and mentoring by a group of volunteers from Global Shapers Quito and Codeis.

Three projects, designed and led by the adolescents and young adults themselves, have been selected to be carried out this year. These proposals will receive a grant of $3,330 each in addition to receiving technical counseling from the coordination team of DreamLAB and ConQuito.

In the parish of Chillogallo, the team Guambra Leads, or Guambra Lidera in Spanish, made up of Ruth Caraguay, Andrea Toapanta, and Mateo Vizcaíno, seeks to advance social transformation through youth empowerment. For their part, Karol Echeverría, Melanie Valente, and Cristina Llamatumbi of the team LlactaHuerto will promote the development of a community garden to reduce organic waste and enhance the economic reactivation of the elderly in the parish of Tumbaco. Finally, in the parish of Calderón, Active Minds, or Mentes Activas in Spanish, made up of Nathaly Farinango, Johana Perugachi, and Ángel Arcentales will aim to support youth in vulnerable conditions through art therapy. Hence, the three projects will contribute to their parishes’ sustainable development and improve the population’s quality of life.  

DreamLAB is one of the ten proposals on a global scale and the only one from Latin America to be selected in an international call for innovation by the United Nations. Given that the initiative is open to society and seeks to form alliances with public institutions, the private sector, the academic sphere, and civil society, it will expand to other cities following the positive results of its piloting. Among the main collaborations is a joint effort with the Vice Presidency of the Republic of Ecuador—a partnership that opens doors for new inclusion projects. This allows for DreamLAB adaptations to be implemented this year, through its work with children and adolescents who find themselves in institutional care, and to strengthen social cohesion in the northern frontier, the city of Tulcán, after the challenges arising from the Venezuelan migration in recent years. 

Participants quoted “communication skills” among their interests to carry out their projects. Thus, and with the intention that each of them becomes an agent of change and an advocate for development within their communities, complementary workshops on Communication for Development (C4D) were held. The independent media school of journalism, GK, and the illustrator and urban artist Juan Sebastián Aguirre, “Apitatán,” conducted the sessions. 

Several celebrities have left their mark on DreamLAB by participating in sessions, interviews, or events. Among them are the Ecuadorian singer and UNICEF goodwill ambassador, Daniel Betancourth; Teleamazonas’ “En Corto” reporter, Alejandra Boada; the Ecuadorian singer, Sergio Sacoto; and the youth activist for human rights, Helena Gualinga, all of whom have motivated the group of participants with messages of hope, peace, and solidarity. 

DreamLAB’s Closing Event 

During the event, after the selection of the winning groups, Joaquín González-Alemán, the representative of UNICEF Ecuador, congratulated each participant: “We distinguished your talent not only for conceiving those great ideas but for making them come true. I call on you to inspire more young people to become agents of social change. You have a great present as well as a great future ahead of you. As such, it is of utmost importance for us to be able to work for you in adolescent and youth participation because we want to give you a voice so that you may come to find solutions within your communities.”

The deputy representative of the UNDP, Fernando Adames, highlighted the importance of DreamLAB as a promoter of development and peace: “Youth and adolescents represent most of the population in Ecuador. It is essential to count on you as agents of change, especially during a time of social and economic crisis as the one we are experiencing. We must break down the barriers that prevent you from unraveling your full potential and support your initiatives’ development and sustainability efforts. The DreamLAB is an example that you are innovative people, entrepreneurs, promoters of peace in your communities, and people committed to equality and sustainable development.”

The panel of judges was made up of Alice Bertella, UNICEF specialist in Adolescent and Youth Participation; Adriana-Lucio Paredes, specialist technician of the Governance and Inclusive Development area of the UNDP; Wilson Merino, executive director of ConQuito, and Camila Hernández, manager of Deloitte. The group selected the best projects based on their sustainability, viability, feasibility, replicability, and ability to activate the community. The event was held both in-person and virtually to maintain biosafety measures.  

Wilson Merino, chief executive of ConQuito and a member of the judging panel, expressed his full support for the group of participants: “From ConQuito, we are with you, and we want to co-build a resilient city. We want to encourage the collective vision of a city where you are the protagonists. Adolescents and youth who promote projects of social transformation in each of your parishes, this acknowledgment we grant you today is a small stimulus to make your dreams of a better society come true.” 

For his part, the secretary-general of Tandari, Daniel Villamar, emphasized the importance of interagency work: “The wonderful projects we have seen today would not have been possible without the leadership of UNICEF and UNDP, with the support of ConQuito and Tandari. These results are thanks to a partnership that will help us reach a truly sustainable society.” 

During the event, the Ecuadorian singer and actress, Yilda Banchón, sent a greeting and motivated participants to continue dreaming to generate a positive change in society. In turn, she announced that, in the coming weeks, she would participate in the TV show Soy el Mejor, which TC Television will broadcast, where she will compete to make the project Dream Barter, or Trueque de Sueños in Spanish, a reality. The project comprises Leonardo Carrera, Shaden Parra, Doménica Salcedo, and Elizabeth Yanguicela, participants of the LAB and residents of the Chillogallo parish. 

Evelyne Bone, part of the LAB’s group of dreamers, showcased her talent live by covering the song No la Beses by Yuridia, closing with her voice this first stage of the DreamLAB.  

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