Family finances were running low. School grades were not exceptionally high. Facing the pressures of accumulating bills and tuition fees, Gianisse Marie Adamantopoulos (better known as Gigi), together with her passion for music, took a leap of faith and applied to be a Microsoft Student Partner.
Music and technology just didn’t seem to tie in, but Gigi refused to give in. She surprised Microsoft Philippines interviewers as she presented the missing link, winning for herself an internship which helped cover her education fees.
Be inspired by other equally amazing youth and find out more about Microsoft YouthSpark programmes.
There is a new movement thundering through hospitals in South Korea. It all began when Microsoft Korea, in collaboration with the Korean Institute of the Disabled for Independent Living, held the “Kinect® Contest for People with Severe Disabilities” to provide people with disabilities, most of whom are wheelchair-bound, with the opportunity to use the Xbox 360 with a Kinect sensor to enjoy sports games they had never thought to be able to play.
Since then, this initiative has begun to make inroads into hospitals as well. On 22 and 23 December 2011 the Korea Citizenship team, in partnership with social workers from two of the biggest hospitals in South Korea, organized a Kinect-themed event, which was open to patients within the rehabilitation wards in these two hospitals. Approximately 60 patients participated and had the opportunity to experience Kinect-themed games. This initiative is significant, as it dispels the notion that technological accessibility cannot play a part in a patient’s rehabilitation process.
According to the social workers that were present, the inception of technology during the rehabilitation process of patients actually motivated them to overcome their diseases, as it gave them an opportunity not to dwell on their current situation, which in turn offered them hope for the future.
On a global scale, Kinect has been used in hospitals as a therapeutic tool to aid medical rehabilitation. In Korea, there will be ongoing efforts to organize similar Kinect-themed events and there are hopes of expanding this initiative to nationally recognized events such as the National Disabled Day in April.
“Physical therapists have reported that they are currently using Kinect as a therapeutic tool in hospitals, and Kinect has been an invaluable tool for the patients in rehabilitation,” said Ms Hoon Hee Park, Rehabilitation Ward Social Worker, Shinchon Severance Hospital.
The Korean Citizenship team and social workers helping out at the hospital.
A young patient trying her hand out at the Kinect game with the help of a social worker.
“Physical therapists have reported that they are currently using Kinect as a therapeutic tool in hospitals, and Kinect has been an invaluable tool for the patients in rehabilitation.” - Ms Hoon Hee Park, Rehabilitation Ward Social Worker, Shinchon Severance Hospital
This is part of a series highlighting the valuable work that Microsoft’s Community Affairs Managers are doing in Asia. This piece was contributed by Nikolay Premyanov and Jason Jun Sik Eum, two student interns who spent time with the Microsoft Area HQ Citizenship team in July 2013.
Janakie Karunaratne has been at Microsoft Sri Lanka for more than seven years fulfilling her role as Community Affairs Manager with enthusiasm and dedication. Initially, Janakie worked in sales at a telco, but ever since she started managing Microsoft’s social initiatives she has never looked back, finding her role fulfilling and important. In her own words, “We are one people – all of us have a responsibility to care for and share information between each other, therefore a large firm like Microsoft, through its corporate citizenship programme, has the responsibility to pro-actively share its immense knowledge among the community in order to improve lives.”
Janakie manages projects all over Sri Lanka, in cooperation with the government, other private sector companies, or Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) – and sometimes all three. One of her main initiatives is setting up workshops that teach information technology (IT) skills to young people, raising their employability and giving them opportunities to fulfill their ambitions, changing not only their own lives, but also their family’s lives as well.
Sri Lanka has suffered through a long civil war that recently ended and there is much rebuilding to do; not only physical but also the mental rebuilding of young people. To help in this sphere, Microsoft Sri Lanka cooperates with HSBC to empower young adults who have been affected by the war to help them become the leaders of the future, as well as providing them with the means to rebuild their lives.
The company is helping NGOs run their own social initiatives by providing them with up to date IT solutions and the means by which they can improve their services to people in need. This provides a huge benefit to NGOs and serves to show the importance of IT to any organization in modern times. One such initiative is the work done with Sri Lanka’s foreign employment bureau to teach important skills to workers leaving to other countries, which improves their employability and makes them more likely to send back money to Sri Lanka, further improving their family’s lives.
According to Janakie, the most successful initiative has been GAMATA IT; Sinhalese for ‘IT for the village’. This is a programme that aims to bring technology to remote villages and teach the local populations how to use IT, giving them the power to improve their own lives. This programme is run in conjunction with the ministry of education, an NGO and 2 private sector firms. This is one of the largest initiatives supported by Microsoft Sri Lanka, touching the lives of many.
It is this aspect that Janakie finds the most enjoyable and fulfilling in her job: touching the lives of many and making a real difference in communities. Even if she never meets the individuals personally, she knows that the work she and Microsoft are doing will improve opportunities across the country. The work provides the right amount of challenge coupled with the need for her to think of ideas and solutions that the company can implement to continue reaching members of the community. In her eyes, a perfect job.
This blog has been posted by Clair Deevy, Citizenship Lead, Microsoft Asia Pacific
There are 1.2 billion young people on our planet today, with projections of 1.5 billion young people by 2035. Many of them are doing amazing things. They are innovating, they are inspiring and they are driving real impact.
As the Microsoft Citizenship Lead I have seen firsthand just how amazing young people can be. We can learn a lot from their work, their energy and their passion. Microsoft can provide the access to the technology, but we want to hear from them directly on the best way we can support what they care about – that is how Innovate4Good@Microsoft was born. The first of six Innovate4Good events held around the world was in Seattle, and the second was held earlier this month in Cairo. We are delighted to be hosting the APAC event in Singapore on April 28 and 29. After Singapore, hundreds more youth will participate in similar conversations in Brussels, Beijing and Mexico City.
This event is a platform for youth to speak and meet with Asian visionaries and thought leaders. More than 100 great young minds from around the region will participate in an open dialogue, discussing technology’s role in bridging the growing opportunity divide, an increasing gap between those who have access, not only to technology, but to a good education and the skills and connections needed to be successful – and those who do not.
Working with Microsoft’s technology these young leaders and their communities will be empowered to build successful futures and bring positive change to their homes. From fun collaborative debates on a range of issues, to listening to inspirational youth peers and finding ways to realize personal future goals, we will be providing the participants hands-on time with Microsoft’s latest technology.
This is the start of an online global community and I hope participants will find a place where young people around the world can come together, collaborate, inspire and support each other.
For Microsoft, investing in using technology to make the world a better place is part of who we are. Innovate4Good@Microsoft is just one of the ways Microsoft is sparking conversations to identify how technology and other investments can help bridge the opportunity divide for youth around the world. We have a lot to learn from young people – I am thrilled to be part of the excitement!
Join the conversation at our online Twitter community at Innovate4Good@Microsoft.
Dream it. Learn it. Live it.
Four years ago, the Imagine Cup provided Edward Hooper with the opportunity to test his mettle against other young innovators around the world. By leading his team to victory at the world’s premier student technology competition in 2008, Ed gained invaluable experience in the use of technology to address some of the most pressing global challenges — experience that he would put to good use in his entrepreneurial pursuits.
At the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals 2008, Ed and his three teammates developed the Smart Operational Agriculture Toolkit (SOAK), a solution that enabled sustainable agricultural water usage to alleviate water scarcity during drought. After coming up trumps in the 2008 competition, Ed continues to be closely involved with Imagine Cup even today, helping to promote the event to Australian students, assist in the execution of the local and worldwide finals, and was one of the judges for the Imagine Cup 2012 Worldwide Finals in Sydney, Australia.
“When I was a student, Microsoft opened my eyes to how technology can fuel developments, enabling aspiring technology entrepreneurs like myself to make valuable contacts and gain access to free software. I was closely involved in helping Microsoft coordinate events at my campus that let other students make similar connections and increase their own knowledge,” said Ed, who was also named as the 2008 Microsoft Student Partner of the Year in Australia.
Ed co-founded 121cast in 2012, a technology start-up that developed an online platform that delivers personalised information and entertainment for mobile consumption. Based in Melbourne, 121cast’s vision is to be the “radio station” of choice for smartphone owners while complementing modern lifestyles and consumption habits.
Aside from his work at 121cast — which includes the development of SoundGecko, an audio transcription service that allows people to listen to articles from websites — Ed is currently involved with the Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP) as an Entrepreneurial Fellow at the University of Melbourne. MAP seeks to create an on-campus community of entrepreneurship by empowering students, staff and alumni to actively provide support for translating good ideas and research outcomes into practical innovations.
“While entrepreneurship is not widely spoken about or even suggested as a career path in schools, it is important to encourage young professionals to view failure positively in the pursuit of ideas. There is still a lack of entrepreneurial culture and awareness among many young professionals, and I would like to see schools doing more to encourage entrepreneurship, especially at a post-graduate level,” Ed added.
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