Our friends from Mexico being welcomed at the airport by WMCAT teens and staff.

The West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology is welcoming students from Monterrey, Mexico and Cluj, Romania to Grand Rapids this year as part of the first Global Youth Forum to engage teens in design thinking and social change. The team from Mexico will be in Grand Rapids July 7-12 with media opportunities below. The team from Romania will visit this fall.

The teens have been working together since March to address “How Might We Empower our Peers to Be More Sustainable,” connecting through video conferencing sessions at Steelcase facilities in each country. Sponsored by Steelcase, Consumers Energy and the Wege Foundation, the Global Youth Forum is locally engaging high school students from University Prep Academy and WMCAT, who created the design challenge and are hosting the first Forum. The three global teams

used the design thinking process to create solutions to their “How Might We..” question above, learning and applying key 21st Century skills like collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and digital literacy.

“As a global company with strong local roots, Steelcase is excited to foster lifelong learning and cultural acceptance among teens here in Grand Rapids and their peers in Mexico and Romania,” said Brian Cloyd, Vice President Global Corporate Relations at Steelcase and co-founder of WMCAT. “It is exciting for us to connect teens through design thinking much in the same way we connect our employees around the world.”

Highlights of the visit in Grand Rapids this week include:

  • A community reception at WMCAT Thursday, July 9 at 7:30 p.m. Open to media. Students will present their projects to affect sustainability among peers.
  • Media and community meetings at WMCAT Friday, July 10 in the morning.
  • Community tours with trips planned to Meijer Gardens and Whitecaps baseball game
  • Tour of wind farm with Consumers Energy in Ludington and tour of Steelcase headquarters.

“WMCAT is committed to empowering teens to use their voice to change their communities. The Global Youth Forum gives our teens an opportunity to connect with peers around the world, working collectively to inspire and affect social change,” said WMCAT Executive Director Kim Dabbs. “We are so grateful to our partners who see great value in giving young people a platform for elevating their voice.”