Led by UNICEF Albania with the support of United Kingdom and implemented by ICTSlab, the seventh edition of UPSHIFT in Albania traveled to the region of Dibra during December 3,4 and 5.
A movement of youth and adolescent opportunities as a force for positive social and economic change, contributing to a competitive labor force, sustained economic growth, improved governance, and vibrant civil societies, UPSHIFT has been successfully implemented in 33 countries around the world and since 2020 in Albania.
Designed to build transferable skills and create opportunity with a focus on the most disadvantaged youth, this program has since been applied on several regions of Albania such as Tirana, Durrës, Shkodra, Korça and Lezha.
Through e combination of outreach and inspiration, human centered design workshops, mentoring and coaching and in some cases funding, young people gain valuable transferable skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and leadership.
More than 20 groups with 100 young people applied to join UPSHIFT and 10 group with 40 adolescents were selected for the three-day workshop and supported by 10 mentors: Andrea Shtjefni, Flogert Muça, Denis Lushi, Sardi Lika, Gerion Treska, Labinot Murrja, Lorela Karabushi, Rea Pajo, Naile Muça and Brunilda Hasanpapaj.
UPSHIFT consists of four phases. The first day saw the initial two phases been implemented from idea consolidation with Problem Tree to causes and consequences of the identified problem, the identification of the target group and the main concepts of prototype design.
Minister of State for Youth and Children Ms. Bora Muzhaqi, Director of UNICEF Albania Ms. Mirlinda Bushati, Mr. Roberto Di Bernardi, general secretary of Peshkopi Municipality Ms. Hurjeta Kurti and Mr. Joshua Harvey from UNICEF joined UPSHIFT at the second day.
A brainstorming session followed up helping young people of UPSHIFT further develop and improve their projects and idea. At the last phase of UPSHIFT groups work on resources, finances, and pitching. The third day, known as the day of presentations and the key moment of UPSHIFT, coincides with the announcement of the winners joined by the co-founder of ICTSmedia and ICTSlab Mr. Kushtrim Shala. “Such events, beyond the opportunities they create for young people, are also a chance to prove themselves and contribute to their communities,” he said.
10 groups of UPSHIFT pitched in front of the jury consisting of Ms. Hurjeta Kurti, general secretary of Peshkopi Municipality, Mr. Flamur Mira, general secretary Klos Municipality and Ms. Esmeralda Shala, director of ICTSlab.
Teamwork, idea, and innovative approach towards the identified problem are the main deciding factor of the jury. Dibra Tour dhe bNb, Klubi i Arteve, Mat Adventures, The Stars and Zambakët e Lurës were selected the winner of UPSHIFT Dibra and will be financed up to 1000 euro each.
ICTSlab will continue to support young people towards consolidating the idea by assisting them in financial management, contractual and legal issues as well as technical aspects of their projects. This activity was made possible through UNICEF Albania by SDG FUND through funding from the Government of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom within the program “Transforming the national response to human trafficking in Albania and from Albania” implemented by the ICTSlab Innovation Laboratory Center.
Two more editions of UPSHIFT will follow next year in the cities of Shkodra and Kukës contributing to social entrepreneurship, youth support and creating opportunities for the most disadvantaged groups.
Winners of UPSHIFT Dibra
Zambakët e Lurës: The group “Zambakët e Lurës” from Peshkopia, Maqellara and Bulqiza created by Silvana, Orient, Drisena and Armando has decided to raise its voice about the deforestation of the Lura area. Lura, a national park and asset of our country, today almost destroyed suffers mostly from the lack of public awareness. These young people believe this problem could be solved by planting as many seedlings as possible which could at least turn it into a more beautiful place and that as many visitors from foreign countries would want to visit.
The Stars: The group “THE STARS” from Dibra created by Xhoi, Fabio and Eva have noticed that the Gymnasium “Fiqiri Dine” Maqellarë is missing a cinema hall where students carry out various activities. They believe that this problem could be addressed by creating a school environment in the form of a multifunctional hall, where various activities will take place such as: theatrical performances, documentaries, workshops, olympiads, competitions, trainings for pedagogical staff, students, people with disabilities, community oriented to meet different needs and to develop the cultural and artistic life in Maqellarë.
Dibra Tour and bNB: Created by Amadeo, Amarildo, Sandredo, Marsiant, Enea and Dori, their main objective is to build a website that will serve as a bridge to connect tourists, hotels, and tour guides in Dibra region. With this website they want to spread informations about tourist place in the region.
Arts Club: The “Art Club” group from Shupenza created by Arla, Anjeza, Megi, Rakipi and Elsoni are worried that their school lacks an environment where students can display their talents. They think that this problem could be solved by creating a school environment in the form of a functional classroom in which various activities dedicated to the art serve as an environment where everyone will be able to display and cultivate their talents but also participate in other activities dedicated to the arts.
Mat Adventures: Mat Adventure group created by: Kejsi, Xhoana, Ira, Reidi and Gerard saw that in the area of Mat there is a lack of paths and their identification in a marked way. This group thought that the problem could be addressed by making it possible to identify a trail in the area of Mat, namely Cape Skanderbeg, which will promote not only natural tourism, but also historical tourism. The paths will be equipped with proper signs and information boards. It will help not only tourists, but also residents of the area who want to turn their “tower” type apartments into guest houses.