HP Mentors High School Students to Change the World for Good

Jul 18, 2012 2:00 PM ET

by Ethan_Bauley

Now in its second year, the HP/Junior Achievement Social Innovation Relay (SIR) has once again succeeded in developing young entrepreneurial minds to benefit the environment and society.

Junior Achievement announced this year’s global winner – a team from South Africa. HP warmly congratulates all of the 21,000+ high school students who participated in this year’s global competition, as well as the 300+ HP volunteer mentors who have supported and guided students since this collaborative HP/JA program began in 2010.

This year, the secondary school students are from 13 different countries; they formed teams to submit their innovations and entrepreneurial ideas on a sustainable business concept designed to benefit their local community and beyond.

The winning concept submitted by Emulsified Environmentalists, a team of students from Sandton View High School, South Africa, won the competition with a concept for a solar-powered lamp, made from recycled materials that will provide light to disadvantaged communities, while also eliminating the environmental and health damage caused by traditional kerosene lamps. Working with an HP mentor, the team developed their concept in response to the problems of electricity shortages and growing respiratory problems in South Africa. Teams from China and Slovakia were runners-up with ideas for a program that trains young volunteers to work with China’s elderly population and an educational DVD with supporting training designed to raise awareness around migration issues for young people, respectively.

The SIR is the largest global education initiative to be run with both virtual and face-to-face mentoring. Each team of students that reaches the finals is paired with a volunteer mentor from HP – they connect with their mentor via HP Virtual Rooms or face-to-face, and work together using online resources to bring the team’s concepts to life.

This challenge exposes the young participants to many valuable new experiences including business practices such as teamwork, working under pressure, making presentations, communicating, and leadership, as well as gaining hands-on ICT experience, and skills essential to compete in and contribute to the 21st century workforce – entrepreneurial thinking and innovation, global sustainability, and societal contribution.

The breadth of concepts submitted by the finalists in this year’s SIR is amazing. In addition to the winning concept, finalists submitted ideas intended to resolve a broad range of environmental and societal challenges, from generating power from rainfall, to using theater performance to improve education, and from creating services that prepare the next generation to support its senior citizens, to manufacturing safety products designed to enhance the visibility of cyclists.

Congratulations to every young person who participated, and to all the HP mentors who gave so generously of their time and talents.

JA and HP have worked together for 20 years on youth-focused programs.