High school students try to solve social issues through “My Project”

“My Project” is an educational program aimed at enhancing high school students’ ability to solve various problems. Katariba supports high school students who have identified social issues facing local community and have desire to solve them. The project intends to create future community leaders.

“We want to do what we can to rebuild our town” – the origin of My Project

My Project started in the town of Otsuchi in Iwate Prefecture which was hit hard by Great East Japan Earthquake. “We want to be more than just a recipient of assistance and give back to the people who supported us.” “We want to what we can to rebuild our town.” Such feeling grew among high school students at Collabo School in Otsuchi, after school program operated by Katariba. Students started their own projects and passionately took part in this new challenge. Trough providing support to students taking initiative, we realized that this will be a perfect opportunity for education when students have a strong sense of ownership to the project and address local problems.

Gain skills needed in society through “My Project”

With the advance of globalization and the Internet, the skills required in society are changing daily. However, not many high school students were given opportunity to enhance their skills in taking initiative, thinking critically and making decisions. My Project offered through Katariba will give chance for students to create their own project and strengthen these skills.

“Truancy” “Disaster Prevention” “Traditional Arts and Crafts”… – More than 400 “My Projects” were created all over Japan

My Project has become popular educational material from Tohoku (northern Japan) to Okinawa (south of Kyushu). There are more than 400 projects started by students.

Make most of your experience of truancy

Fline: Haruka Suemoto, Risa Matsumoto from Fukuoka

We started help children facing difficulty in attending school and to encourage them to make the most of the challenges they face. All members of this “My Project” have also experienced truancy. We do not want others to think of their difficult times as a waste, and make best use of their experience. Based on our own experience, we promote networking among children facing the same challenge, and help their studies to pass exams.

Spreading the images of local charms through the Internet

High school organization Blue: Karam Hasegawa, Keita Tsuchida from Niigata

We identify local appeals through the eyes of high school students and compile them into a video program and disseminate them through the Internet. We also provide business card creating booths at local events and organize video workshop for students. We invite other talented high school students who are active in local community and exchange information and take part in discussion among ourselves.

Staying side by side, Katariba help high school students create and execute their projects.

What Katariba emphasizes in My Project is the sense of ownership and taking action. “Ownership” is to have a clear idea on the theme you want to pursue through the Project. “Action” means to learn a lesson from the actual experience you have from implementing the Project. Students aims to learn from the experience not just by making a plan. Katariba will stay every step of the way of the students during the three stages of My Project: from articulating an idea into a plan, implementing the plan, and to review and learn from the experience.

STEP1:Start-up retreat (Planning phase)

Students will hear from those who have already created their “My Projects” and try to articulate their passion and identify their interests. Through this, they will find their own project.

STEP2:Online seminar (Action phase)

Katariba will support students implement their project via video conferences using the Internet. Students will listen to each other’s experience of executing their plans and Katariba staff provides professional advice through this seminar.

STEP3:My Project Award (Review phase)

All students who have created and implemented their own “My Project” will get together and make a presentation about their experience. They will reflect on their own experience and try to learn a lesson from how they have changed after starting My Project.

90% of participants felt they gained skills needed to solve problems and build teamwork

An experience to apply a theory for a question that does not have a clear answer and to act upon your idea is a best way to gain skills for solving problems. The experience also fosters self-confidence and proactive thinking. 90% of students who participated in My Project responded that they were able to strengthen their skills in solving problems, building teamwork, and creating traction to involve more people.

Collaboration with adults inspire high school students

Continuous support from adults is essential for high school students to complete their project. Most high school students have interest in trying something new but do not know how to start. Katariba creates a system that supports social activities of high school students through the partnership with local municipalities, schools, board of education and private educational organizations.

Connecting students’ action to the community

Capacity building for youth with a strong sense of entrepreneurship is a vital component of vibrant community. My Project supports proactive engagement of high school students and encourage them to become a role model to other students. This approach will create more participants with a sense of mission. Through My Project, Katariba tries to turn the light in the hearts of high school students and have them actively build local community in the future.

Being praised and rejected: Raw experience teaches the dynamics of society

Eiichiro Wake, staff member of My Project

Through My Project, high school students gain invaluable experience as they carry out the plan they made by themselves. Some of them will be praised for their work and others may get cold responses. Such “raw” experiences are the best lessons they learn about the society and its dynamics. And this is the true value of My Project. One student told me that while working on My Project, his rades improved. He studied harder and more efficiently as he thought that he/she would have to quite My Project if the grades went down. He further told me that My Project told him how to prioritize and manage your own schedule. My Project has become an important life experience for many high school students to prepare for their future in society.