Foresight. I knew what the word meant; I am an English Literature major, after all. But I had never really thought of it in the context of the future of the world. That changed when I participated in UNICEF Canada’s Foresight Lab at the Women Deliver Conference. The Foresight Lab marked the start of a conference that opened my eyes in such a profound way to the issues people are facing around the world and the progress being made to combat them.
In one of the exercises, we created prototypes of ideas that could hypothetically contribute to a brighter future. One group invented an app called ‘Mental Mate’ that would make it simple to log lifestyle choices that affect mental health such as sleep, exercise, and eating habits. It would also provide easy access to mental health resources and solutions.
Another prototype created was ‘Youth in Business,’ an initiative that would provide resources for young people to learn essential life-skills starting in elementary school. Through a universal school curriculum, students would be able to take courses on coding, legal policies, resume building, taxes, and much more.
During a reflection at the end of the session, we wrote letters, not to our future selves, but to someone else in the future. We learned that through this session, there are so many different possibilities for the state of the future and there’s no way of knowing what it’ll look like in actuality. Young people know all too well the overwhelming anxiety that can come with thinking about what the world will look like in the future of their own lives and for the generations to come. I found that imagining multiple versions of the future helped in easing that worry and the fear that change is too far out of our control.
Beyond the things I learned, I think of the people I learned from – other young people. Every single person I met during this session had such an interesting story and had a vision for what they wanted to see in our world. I hate to be cliché and use the word ‘inspirational’ but it truly was inspirational to be in a small room full of such like-minded people. They each came with their brilliant ideas for the future and stories of how, even at such a young age, they’re making significant contributions to their communities.
Sometimes I tend to feel like I don’t belong in a setting with so many remarkable people, but being with the youth at the Foresight event, I truly felt like I was right where I needed to be in that moment. Instead of being my usual shy-at-first-self, I allowed myself to open up and embrace the process.