"If you can change a classroom, you can change a community, and if you change enough communities you can change the world."
- Erin Gruwell, Founder of the Freedom Writers Foundation
I want you to ask yourself what your most valuable learning experience has been. I've asked that from audiences of high school students all the way to company executives, and I usually follow up by asking if their most valuable experience was in school. I can confidently say I've only ever seen a handful say yes. The learning experiences that have the most profound impact on us are our failures, meaningful conversations that shift our perspective, and opportunities that challenge us to grow. So what motivated me to start asking these questions and take action through Futures Collective?
I moved to Australia when I was 9 and went through most of my time in primary and high schools with traditional ideas of success. Becoming a doctor, lawyer or engineer and working my way through the ranks. What helped me see past those expectations was an entrepreneurial program run by Education Changemakers when I was in Year 10 which got us to work on solutions to health problems in our schools. I went from having had no clue what entrepreneurship even was at the start of the day, to helping create the idea of a student run brand of bucket hats and sun safe products for our school. I felt like I learnt more in one day than I had for the entire year. It was so empowering to know I could create change on real problems regardless of my age. It was an experience that opened my perspective and curiosity in incredible ways.
I couldn’t stop thinking about, how one workshop could be so empowering for me. I was so inspired that I wanted to create a social enterprise incubator for high school students, but I soon realised the impact I wanted to create ran deeper than just helping young people start a social enterprise.
Over the the last few years I have been lucky enough to have had some incredible mentors and and work within great organisations like TEDxCanberra, Oaktree, Law Squared, EY and more. I've learn't first hand the value of unexpected conversations and stories. One pivotal experience at the age of 15 sparked the start of a journey that made me value the things that make us human. I have always believed that every young person has a unique perspective and the capacity to create meaningful change. I'm extremely passionate about paying forward the amazing experiences and opportunities I've had. I am striving to empower young people with the skills, experiences and community to navigate our innovating world with confidence.
Aqeel Camal - Founder & Chief Empowerment Officer