“Taking you out of the ordinary, showing the extraordinary”
"I learnt a lot about empathy and I have realised how lucky I am,” says Konrad Przemek.
Konrad is Country Commercial Manager at Vandemoortele. The group of Vandemoortele leaders has just finished its StreetwiZe expedition at Campus Ruiselede of community institution De Zande. De Zande hosts youngsters who have committed a crime or who suffer from a complex or difficult family situation. The expedition members have to complete a challenging assignment: develop a new educational game with the youngsters that fits their living environment and that can be used on the mobile school afterwards.
An enthralling experience is invaluable in making learning sustainable.
StreetwiZe expeditions are multi-day development programmes during which the participants are challenged to connect with an unusual target group, in an unusual context. StreetwiZe expeditions mainly target high potentials, leaders and corporate management teams. During a StreetwiZe expedition, the participants are taken out of their comfort zone. Starting from that experience, participants are encouraged to reflect on who they are, on their talents and aspirations. The StreetwiZe coaches offer support to grow in authentic leadership. For the Belgian expeditions we have recently started cooperating with community institution De Zande.
Managers who need to complete an assignment often tend to start straight away.
In a working context time is scarce and we sometimes forget that connecting is crucial to work together well as a group. Usually not a lot of attention is paid to connecting, since people are rarely very good at it. It is however, necessary because collaboration opportunities often surface only after connecting and it is in doing so that one identifies and values somebody else’s talents.
Therefore, ample time is taken to connect during a StreetwiZe expedition. In De Zande, the process of connecting was started by playing sports together. The youngsters also gave the Vandemoortele participants a guided tour around the institution’s facilities. “I was touched by the pride with which the youngsters spoke about their living environment” said StreetwiZe coach Hans. In the very beginning, early in the morning, some tension was tangible between the two groups. But at the end of the day, during intervision, that tension had disappeared completely. The participants and the youngsters were clearly ready to kick-start their assignment.
The expeditions guide participants and youngsters through a creative process.
The first step is all about generating ideas for a new game and picking the very best. During the next step they design a prototype and test it by playing it with the other groups. The process often leads to very intense moments, not in the least for the corporate participants. They have the additional assignment of keeping the youngsters - experts in the topics that are discussed - on board, which is not evident. The youngsters are not used to being asked to express their opinion or to being heard, which can influence their attention span.
They don’t always master the art of focusing yet and are more prone to quit. In these moments, empathy and empowerment are the key to success. It’s all about understanding the interests and the needs of the youngsters, to keep them involved and to bring out the best in them. “The programme teaches me just how important it is to show appreciation to your team members”, says Konrad Przemek about his personal learnings.
Apart from the corporate leaders in the expedition, we also want to bring about a change for the youngsters.
De Zande’s Director Stijn Staes was quickly convinced about the potential of bringing ‘the outside world’ into both the youngsters’ and their educators’ lives, even though that still had to be demonstrated.
“It was great to see the enthusiasm after the initial StreetwiZe presentation”, says Stijn. “And now that the programme is up and running, its positive impact is even more clear: educators witness that this programme enables them to take steps with the youngsters, which would take much more time to realise in different circumstances.”
Steven Dierickx, Commercial Manager Belux at Vandemoortele, summarises the feeling in his group this way: “During the StreetwiZe expedition, you not only learn the basics on how to connect and empower, but you also get the feeling that you can truly add value to the life of these youngsters”.
So what’s next for the new educational games invented and designed by the Vandemoortele employees and De Zande’s youngsters?
Mobile School’s educational work group will take the ideas and prototypes to the next phase.
If they are good enough, they will be transformed to real panels that can be used on the streets by all Mobile School partners worldwide. “A real triple win”, Steven Dierickx rightly concludes.
Do you want more information on this expedition? Contact StreetwiZe.