Youth will frequently have a desire to change the world around them, but they often do not know where to start. (Note: this feeling isn't confined to youth, people of all ages feel this way). Sometimes - if not almost all the time - they do not have an idea to start from. So, as we continue to build Butterfly I wanted to share a method that we've used to get things going.
Underpinning the methodology I use is the belief that you need to build empathy with the world around you - and specifically the people you want to help in some way. Without this bond, people will not continue to build, change, and learn from their idea. With this bond, people stand a good chance of being open to changing their idea based off of feedback from the people they want to help. This is because the goal has changed from "launch my idea" to "launch something that people will value".
But, like I said, sometimes people only have the will to change the world but do not have an idea. One activity that the students enjoyed and produced good insight was a self-documentation exercise. This method was inspired by the great folks at IDEO.org.
What you ask the participants to do is take a series of pictures based on a subject or topic. We (the teachers and myself) changed up the topics, and added some others, but the aim is for the youth to show their own world through their eyes. We gave them the weekend to do the documentation, and reviewed them at the next session. It was also important to ensure everyone had access to a camera and could pay for the development of the pictures.
What we then did is explore each topic area to identify themes and areas that we might want to explore further. This also helped them begin building smaller teams among themselves based on interest areas.
Developing an idea from scratch requires opportunities to be inspired, this is one method I find works quite well. What it also does is provide insight into the youth themselves so that we can refine and adjust the activities based on their feedback and what's important to them.