Imagine Corps pairs students with local nonprofits

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    In his career, Hopkinton resident Joe Gammal is passionate about working with companies on creative problem solving, innovation and collaboration. But as a sports coach and parent, he is passionate about working with youths. He has combined these two passions to form Imagine Corps 2020, a learning and service program for local youths.

    “The program is designed to nurture the collaborative problem solving talent of teens today and enable them to be the future impact makers of tomorrow, but leveraging that to have impact in the community today,” Gammal said.

    Gammal, a corporate trainer with Synecticsworld who has worked with companies internationally, said he took a class on creative problem solving and facilitation at WPI as a college student and it changed his life path. He has made a point to pass on that knowledge to his own children, and he thought it would be important to bring that same training to other teens because it’s not the kind of education typically studied in school.

    “It is this idea of facilitating innovation and facilitating others to create breakthroughs by developing solutions and embedding change in organizations,” he said.

    Imagine Corps 2020 (imaginecorps.org), set to begin next week, will include Zoom instruction, live discussions and interactive, hands-on exercises designed to give students experiential training and practice.

    “We will study the human dynamics about where people are and are not successful and what kinds of things get in the way,” Gammal said. “There is this idea that people embrace what they create.”

    Skills sharing sessions will focus on skills that are not only applicable in everyday interactions, but life skills that the current workforce is really calling for, such as creativity, originality, complex problem solving, leadership and social influence, emotional intelligence, active learning strategies, critical thinking and more.

    “We will be doing experiential training as creative problem solvers and collaborative innovators,” Gammal said. “It will be very hands-on.”

    There will be two main programs (both of which are fee-based, with scholarships available): Breakthrough Thinking, which is nine hours over two days, and Innovative TeamWorkshop, which is 18 hours over four days. Both programs will foster personal creative thinking, active listening, open mindedness, making connections, breaking connections to make new connections, creative problem solving, idea generation and development, elements of interaction, climate building and more.

    “How do you get ideas and how do you treat ideas?” he said. “When we learn these skills, we become more resilient so we can tackle what comes our way.”

    Once the students are trained, they will be paired with local nonprofits, including Project Just Because, Live4Evan and Hopkinton Community Partnership.

    “These are nonprofits who need a youthful boost of energy and idea to address a real challenge or opportunity facing their cause and/or the worthy constituencies they serve,” Gammal said. “We will invent solutions to key challenges for local nonprofits while we learn.”

    After the workshop there will be small group coaching to help students integrate and activate tools learned, as well as give students an opportunity to ask questions and share what they are learning with each other.

    “It introduces the kids to these groups in their community that are doing great things,” Gammal said. “It takes the lessons and gives them hands-on experience on how to apply the concepts.”

    The program will culminate with an “impact invention session and concept jam” at the end of the summer where the students will have the opportunity to share what they’ve learned.

    “We will be sharing skills of how you work together to solve challenges and then applying them to challenges in our own communities,” he said.

    Students in grades 8 through 12 are invited to attend. Gammal said the program is designed for students who want to make a difference in their community while receiving skills and experiences that will give them an edge in all they do.

    They will be supported by corporate sponsors and community mentors.

    “These are people who want to aid youths while at the same time bolstering their communities in demonstrable and noteworthy ways,” Gammal said. “They are mentors of innovation and creative problem solving who want to pass on to future generations the transformative impact they’ve had.”

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