W ith the curveballs thrown at us this year, I would not be surprised if you told me you’ve found yourself on a totally different path than you thought you would be. I’m with you!
Our team at the Believe Initiative went through something like this over the last few months.
In a normal world, we would bring hundreds of students and their families together to share their Believe Passion Projects. Managing that during a socially-distanced, global pandemic becomes a little bit difficult, doesn’t it?
‘FORCED’ ADAPTATION CAN LEAD TO NEW OPPORTUNITIES
On January 19th, 2021, the Believe Initiative hosted its first-ever virtual Believe Inspiration Fair. Normally a Believe Inspiration Fair looks like a science fair of inspirational projects, students, teachers, school board personnel, parents, and invited guests, all buzzing around looking at the innovative and impactful ideas. During this year’s Believe Inspiration Fair event, the top student projects from each Believe Chapter showcased their Believe Passion Projects virtually for a chance to win a $2,000 grant from the Duke of Edinburgh to support the continuation of their idea in the future.
All of the projects developed by the students combine a passion they have, with a problem they want to solve, and then they use that passion to help solve that problem (Passion+Problem = Believe Passion Project).
The projects are always mind-blowing, and this year was no different. But this year, students would face unforeseen circumstances beyond just the challenges of starting a new venture. These students were in and out of in-person school, they had ideas that worked under certain restrictions, but then had to quickly modify as regulations changed. All these students showcased resiliency and a willingness to adapt to their surroundings. They found new ways to create amazing change in their communities, even during a time when connection seemed so challenging.
THE WINNING PROJECT
Memorial Map, developed by students from Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School, saw an opportunity to make connection easier during the pandemic. They combined their passion for spending time with family and building digital tools with the ever-pressing problem of dealing with grief after the loss of loved ones, especially during a pandemic when attending a funeral may not be possible.
The solution? Creating a private platform for digital landmarked memorials, for family and friends to share memories of their departed loved ones when they are unable to do so in person.
The students from Memorial Map shared that “this year’s pandemic taught many of us the value of family. Loss of loved ones hits hard, and generations who were very young/not born when the loss happened don’t get to know anything about the person and what they meant to the rest of the family.”
“Travel restrictions, possibly due to the pandemic, make it difficult for relatives from other countries to visit the loved one’s resting place, making them feel very disconnected.”
Of course, nothing will replace being physically present to support family and friends through the loss of a loved one, but these students have found an alternative pathway for families to come together and share memories, even while miles apart. It’s pretty likely that a year ago these students may not have had the idea for a project like this, but now, due to the amazing creativity and resiliency that these students have shown, so many lives will be positively impacted, even in a post-pandemic world.
Even though all the projects showcased at the Believe Inspiration Fair focused on different topics, one theme remained the same – they all reimagined their path to the finish line.
A DIFFERENT PATH DOESN’T HAVE TO = A DIFFERENT OUTCOME
Even though all the projects at the Believe Inspiration Fair focused on different topics, one theme remained the same – they all reimagined their path to the finish line.
Many of these projects have taught us that even if forced to take a different path, it is still possible to achieve the same result, and sometimes it will even open your eyes to a whole new world of possibilities.
Take the Believe Initiative Inspiration Fair, for instance. In a normal world, we would bring hundreds of students and their families together to share their projects. Managing that during a socially-distanced, global pandemic becomes a little bit difficult, doesn’t it? Our team needed to take a step back and evaluate how we could turn the Believe Inspiration Fair into a virtual event that still had the same impact as our normal in-person events. We asked ourselves some important questions:
What was the overall feeling we wanted to instill in people?
What were the elements we could change to a virtual format without losing the ‘spark’ of an in-person celebration?
WHAT WERE NEW ASPECTS WE COULD BRING TO THE EVENT, THAT WE HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO DO BEFORE, BUT A VIRTUAL FORMAT WOULD ENABLE?
Through our planning, and a healthy amount of taking chances, by the end of the event, the air felt electric. The sense of connection and community that was built in that virtual space was so special and so unique. The feelings of pride and excitement about these student projects and the impact they will make in the future was stronger than ever. Even though the event looked different than it normally would, the magic it left you with was same, if not better!
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS?
WHEN REIMAGINING YOUR PATH, ASK YOURSELF THIS…
Next time you find yourself forced on to a different path, rather than holding on to what was “supposed” to be, take a moment and reimagine the journey. What is your goal? What is the feeling or impact you’re trying to create? Is there another way you can reach that? Are there things you can tweak, details you can change, paths you can choose that will help you reach your goal without the roadblocks?
Remind yourself there is more than one path to the same result, accept the curveballs with grace, welcome new opportunities to learn, and show a willingness to be flexible and resilient – you’ll find your way, whatever that turns out to be.