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Stories by Hydro

Hydro continues to support youth and adolescent together with UNICEF

Empowering students with 21st century skills and facilitating their transition from school to work, is the main initiative of Ideas in Action. This program is implemented by UPSHIFT, and is facilitated by UNICEF, in collaboration with Hydro. This year over 1,200 students in Italy came together to analyze concrete challenges from their communities.

As a Signature Partner of UNICEF Norway, Hydro has been supporting the UNICEF skills building program UPSHIFT in Italy since 2020. UPSHIFT is UNICEF’s flagship initiative, combining some of the leading approaches in skills development, social innovation, and entrepreneurship to empower marginalized youth and adolescents – including young migrants and refugees – to become social innovators and entrepreneurs. This partnership is part of Hydro’s social ambitions for 2050 to improve lives and livelihoods where we operate.  

The 1200 participants in this year’s program were divided into teams and asked to present an innovative and creative idea with social impact for the challenges they are given. One of the themes that stood out this year was Tiramisù, which means “Pick me up”. It was one of the groups responses to the issues of eating disorders and nutritional health (anorexia and bulimia) through a set of social recreational activities, peer to peer support and complementing treatment programs.  

a group of people posing for a photo
The team behind the Tiramisù response being presented with their Social Impact Award. (Photo: Unicef)

"This is certainly difficult issues to tackle, and a lot of preparation is required," said Caterina, a seventeen year old participant from Monza, who is on a social health educational path at an upper secondary school, involved in volunteer work and dreams of a future in the social field. 

Adolescence is a critical phase in life when many young people compare themselves to others, identify with peers and represent themselves in relation to others. In recent years, the pandemic has posed new challenges to the well-being of adolescents and young people, increasing their state of stress, with possible effects on physical and mental health.  

"It was great to be able to make our contribution and bring the topic to the attention of so many people, because we still need to talk about it. I was surprised by the statistics on eating disorders, how they have evolved during the pandemic, and it hits close to home because a friend of mine suffered from one,” said Caterina. “This program helped me to develop my organizational skills and manage the activities in my group. It helped us with communication and socialization, because it emphasized how important it is to listen to each other and exchange ideas. New talents came out and new aspects of people we knew – this experience united us.” 

On June 6, the students presented their solutions during Demo Day to a team of experts, including Hydro Extrusion Italy, the Italian Committee for UNICEF, and the Fitzcarraldo Foundation. 

The UPSHIFT Program is part of the models being tested within the framework of the EU Child Guarantee promoted by the European Commission, with the aim of combating child poverty and social exclusion, including in the sphere of education and school activities, through pathways designed for the empowerment of adolescents in disadvantaged situations. 

Read more about last year's UPSHIFT program

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