Youth Design Studio is a sustainable design class that will teach secondary school students in Cape Town to research, design, and build a project of their choosing that will benefit their whole community. In the process, they will talk to their neighbors, city officials, university students, local professionals, and other people who will teach them about the world beyond their classroom.
We’d like to share with you what inspired us to embark upon this journey. Our story starts over the year and a half that Julie Goodness, the main project proposer, spent in Cape Town working on a Fulbright Grant. Over the course of her Fulbright work, which focused on urban biodiversity in Cape Town, she had the opportunity to interact with and learn from people all over the city, all from different communities, backgrounds, fields, and perspectives. Here is part of her narrative on what inspired her to create Youth Design Studio:
“In 2011, I spent several months interviewing City of Cape Town elected city councillors in a project regarding their knowledge of environmental issues and integration of these matters into their work. In addition to the information that I was seeking, I gained a deeper, richer perspective into Cape Town’s history, people, culture, challenges, and opportunities, as narrated by the people who are working to improve the city every day.
In one conversation, I spoke with a leader in the social development portfolio committee, who described her work with many of the poorer, more resource-pressed communities in the city. She often gives lectures and church sermons in these neighbourhoods, and frequently engages the young people in conversation. She asks them about their thoughts, hopes, dreams, and aspirations.
Once, in a community located within sight of the air traffic of Cape Town International Airport, she asked a boy what he wanted to do someday.
“Someday,” he responded timidly, “I want to ride in a plane.”
The official told me that she was heartbroken.
“What I want to hear him say,” she said, her eyes sparkling with hope and energy, “ is, ‘Someday, I want to FLY a plane.’”
In this spirit, I have been inspired to create Youth Design Studio. It is to help Capetonians grow wings.”