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Young Digital Leaders who start small and Think Big

Written by Kerry North, ‎Senior Manager - Youth & Community at Telefónica UK (O2)

This post first appeared on the O2 News Blog here

The Digital Leaders 2017 DL100 was released today recognising individuals and organisations who demonstrate a pioneering and sustainable approach to digital transformation.  And I am so proud to see that two of O2’s Think Big project leaders are recognised as finalists in the Mobile Innovation of the Year category.

Huge congratulations to both Claudine and Lewis for making the list – and it is now up to the public to decide on the winners in each category.

The Mobile Innovation of the Year award recognises innovation in the mobile sector that has had a measureable impact on its target community.  Since 2010, O2 has awarded over 8000 grants of £300 to young people to lead a project to have a social benefit in their community.  And as experts in mobile technology, we encourage and support digital innovations that use tech for social good – so it’s not surprising to see some of the young people we have supported in this award.

But the support from O2 was just the start for our Think Big project leaders, and it is great to see how the passion, determination and brilliance of young people can transform their ideas into reality, growing their projects into respected initiatives and continuing make a difference.

Huge congratulations to both Claudine and Lewis for making it into the DL100, it is truly an amazing achievement and great recognition of their dedication to developing their innovations.

But they need your help! Voting has opened to the public today.  Please visit the site to vote, and look at all the other brilliant finalists across the categories.

Claudine has been recognised for her Career Ear app (available in the App store!) – saddened by the huge numbers of young people, particularly those from less privileged backgrounds, without the right contacts to offer them quality career advice, Claudine developed Career Ear, the UK’s first Q&A careers advice app, with funding from O2’s Think Big.  Young career seekers can download the free Career Ear app to ask career questions. They select an industry, anything from architecture to music, and professionals who work in those industries answer via the app.

Lewis was diagnosed with a brain tumour at 17 months.  He has had more than 13 brain operations and suffers from seizures most days.  His disability has meant he has spent a lot of time in hospital, which can be isolating and lonely.  He used funding from Think Big to set up ‘Friend Finder’ to help connect young people who miss a lot of school to make friends and stay in touch.  As well as an online world, Lewis is piloting NFC gadgets to enable children to safely and securely exchange contact details and keep in touch, as Lewis knows another part of being poorly and missing school is that children can find it hard to read and write.  Lewis recently turned 16 and posted a moving video about his challenges that has now had over 30 million views – watch it here.

These are just two examples of young people who have taken bold moves that have had a positive impact.  And to help inspire more young people to take their own bold moves, we are partnering with TEDxTeen to bring the conference to London.  Young people can register now to attend the event for free on June 24th at indigo at The O2, to hear from an amazing line up of speakers.

We know that young people can be a force for good, and we know that technology is a great enabler, and with a little help to bring to two together and encourage innovation, great things can happen.

Please visit the DL100 site to vote for this year’s winners. http://www.digileaders100.com/#categories

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