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Youth Mentor Challenge: Guiding Principles

As we prepare to collaborate on our latest OpenIDEO Challenge, we've compiled Guiding Principles to help point our efforts in the right direction. These principles seek to provide guidance, inspiration and focus during our collective efforts. 

Our Focus 

In this challenge we’re looking for ways to inspire and engage young people to support older adults through mentorship. Built into this challenge is the underlying assumption that there are two specific ‘user groups’ we’re focused on: young people and older adults. But who exactly are we referring to?

‘Young People’ 
In this challenge, we’re specifically talking about youth age 15-24 as our potential pool of mentors. Within this group, there is much nuance and diversity – from a 15 year-old who volunteers to fulfill his community service requirement at school to a recent university graduate who wants to teach her grandfather how to use email. One of our goals in the Research phase is to tease out this nuance and better understand who these young people really are and what resonates with them in relation to volunteering and mentorship. 

‘Older Adults’
For our efforts in this challenge, the term ‘older adults’ refers to anyone over the age of 50. Quite a range! As we’ve learned in the Healthy Ageing Challenge and others, there is incredible variety and diversity among people over 50 years of age. In fact, this group can represent as many as three distinct generations: parents, grand parents and even great-grandparents. Similar in our approach to ‘young people,’ let’s use the Research phase to better understand who these older adults are and how they believe young people can offer service and support in ways that authentically align with older adults’  life stage and priorities. 

Above and beyond what we learn in the Research phase, keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to designing for and with people of different generations. For one IDEO designer’s take, check out Gretchen Addi’s post: Design for People, Not an Age.

Whenever possible, let’s put down our assumptions and preconceived notions and instead ground our ideas and conversations in real people and their real needs. Throughout the challenge, we hope you’ll ask yourself: how can I step away from my computer, talk to people of all ages and root my learning, my ideas and my collaborations in what’s really happening in the world around me? In addition, who do you know that fits within either of these age groups who might want to join our efforts in the challenge online? 

Our Conversations 

Staying Optimistic 
Sometimes it can be easy to dwell on the negative or make assumptions – especially when we’re trying to create solutions that involve people outside our own peer group or life experience. But in keeping with our OpenIDEO community spirit, let's focus on the positive. Staying optimistic, hopeful and most importantly curious will not only help us collaborate better – but also to design better, together. 
Emphasis on Positive Solutions 
As we explore our topic and design ideas, we each might feel a tendency at times to get stuck on what's not working or to focus on our differences, rather than our commonalities. Let's turn that on its head and instead steer our efforts toward positive solutions that unite people of all ages while celebrating what makes different generations special and unique. 
Respectful Dialogue 
Our community already has a knack for conversations that are friendly, constructive and collaborative – and we know this challenge will be no different. As we embark on this newest challenge together, let's remember that everyone's experiences and opinions are welcome, as long as the content we share is thoughtful and respectful. 

You can also check out our Community Principles if you're curious to learn more.

With that, head over to the challenge to join the conversation.