What does collaboration for social change look like? We saw a great example at the recent Random Hacks of Kindness ideas night in Ipswich.

The collaborators

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The recent Random Hacks of Kindness ideation night in Fire Station 101 showcased West Moreton Anglican College students participating in the Impact Academy Impact Youth Accelerator program.

Impact Academy is a social enterprise accelerator that has helped over 40 startup and early stage entrepreneurs achieve sustainable and scalable impact. The program is building on its proven success to develop social entrepreneurs in high schools through helping young people build businesses they care about and that make a difference.

Impact Academy’s Impact Youth Accelerator program is being delivered in West Moreton Anglican College – or WestMAC as the College is affectionately known. WestMAC is a progressive and dynamic co-educational institution situated on a 38 hectare semi-rural campus. The school supports prep to year-12 to prepare young people for the demands of a rapidly-changing, technology-driven society.

The WestMAC students in the Impact Youth Accelerator are acting as Change Makers in Random Hacks of Kindness. RHoK is a global hackathon initiative for change that started in the United States in 2009, arrived in Australia in 2011, and is now run across 5 locations across the country. Twice a year, charities, social enterprises, not for profits and community groups come as Change Makers to share their passion and challenges with a room full of developers who are keen to give back, learn, and develop new skills.

The RHoK ideas night happened in Fire Station 101, an innovation hub in Ipswich where entrepreneurs can build and grow their ideas using digital technology. Located in a renovated 1960s fire station, the rapidly growing Ipswich City Council initiative has a capacity of over 60 seats and 100 full and part time entrepreneurs all willing to give it a go.

Introducing the young social entrepreneurs

The four Impact Academy Impact Youth Accelerator participants acting as Change Makers in Random Hacks of Kindness are taking the opportunity to change themselves and the world:

Lachlan Palmisano

After seeing his grandfather recover from hip surgery, Lachlan has an idea for a device to assist mobility in aged care.

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Hanna Ward

Leveraging her blogging and photography skills, Hannah is keen to focus on what matters in our over-sharing society by creating a photography platform that raises awareness for mental health.

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Harrison Spencer-Matthews

Harrison has written a book on the threatened species of narwhals and now wants to expand his vision of activism through edutainment to the digital space.

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Salamon Lukonga

To support medical aid in his parent’s home region of Kivu, Congo, Salamon is creating a clothing line to raise awareness and funds for local doctors.

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Refining ideas to make a difference

The Impact Academy Impact Youth Accelerator program is a 14-week program that runs over two terms. The program involves weekly after-school sessions helping the participants define and create their social enterprise. In addition, the local innovation hub Fire Station 101 is open on weekends for the participants to engage further with mentors who can help them work on their project.

The Random Hacks of Kindness hackathon provides a great opportunity for the young social entrepreneurs to work with passionate mentors, designers, and programmers to test their enterprise ideas and create a minimum viable product over a weekend. Hosting the hackathon at Fire Station 101 creates a common thread between the programs.

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Through the ideas night, mentors, designers, and programmers moved between change makers, each building on the ideas of those who came before to help develop substance for what would be developed over the future hackathon. One of the main points of feedback that came back from the young entrepreneurs in the ideas night is the value in being listened to. These young people were treated as equals, as everyone in the room shared a common goal of learning, growing, giving, and making a difference.

Want to get involved?

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The RHoK hackathon is coming up in Ipswich over the 4-5 June weekend. If you are a mentor, designer, or especially programmer of any skill level, you are welcome to come along to share in the fun, passion, and food. You can register here: http://www.meetup.com/Random-Hacks-of-Kindness-Ipswich/events/230622155/. Please share with those you feel might be keen.

We will be expanding further programs both in Fire Station 101 and across Ipswich in the coming months. Please contact me (chad@firestation101.com.au) if you would like more information.

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