“It’s the Holy Spirit!” These words were whispered to me by Pastor Lori at a Rotary Club meeting a little over a year ago. At this particular meeting I was telling the story of how a complete stranger was compelled to donate the remaining sum of money needed to ensure my 6th grade students could attend the international Design For Change conference in Spain.  As is generally the case with the Lord’s work, I could not have realized how extensively the Holy Spirit was working in my life particularly in regards to the Design For Change program and the youth in our community.

After the fateful Rotary meeting, Pastor Lori and I had several conversations that resulted in the opportunity for me to lead the First Lutheran confirmation youth in a Design For Change project.  Design For Change is an international program challenging youth to find and create solutions to problems in their communities using the Design Thinking process. Design Thinking is a powerful problem solving process used to solve complex problems by large corporations, school districts, and other entities around the world.  Design For Change takes the process and makes it accessible to children by condensing it to 4 stages; Feel, Imagine, Do, Share, better known as FIDS for short.

As I began the FIDS process with First Lutheran Youth, many topics were discussed as problems in the community.  Issues ranged from smoking and littering to poor sportsmanship and bullying. After much discussion the group decided to tackle the issue of discrimination and hate due in large part to racist cd’s having been distributed on car windshields at Sandpoint High School.  

As we got down to the business of solving this problem the children gained empathy through speaking with the Bonner County Human Rights Task Force, speaking with Ratu who had experienced discrimination, and listening to the presentations given by refugees last spring. Gaining insight and empathy for those affected by hate and discrimination allowed the group to create, imagine, and then implement solutions.

As part of their solutions the group created an Instagram account called 7B Love Project. They have worked on a logo to put on t- shirts and other merchandise, but their hearts are in educating youth about discrimination and treating others with kindness and respect.  With this goal in mind, the group is working with the Bonner County Human Rights Task Force and other key community members to put on a workshop for families to educate them about the issues around hate and discrimination.  

If you are in the Sandpoint, Idaho area and feel the calling to help the confirmation youth with their workshop, please feel free to email me at info@designforchange.us. I'm also happy to answer any questions about how to introduce DFC to students outside of the traditional school setting.

The Holy Spirit is at work and is working within the youth at First Lutheran.  I am unsure where it will lead our group of children, but I know they are growing into amazing young adults.

Ann Dickinson

(6th Grade Teacher, Design for Change Advocate)