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Innovative Newcastle students eye off the future

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Improving accessibility for people, dealing with plastic, planning for an ageing community and preparing for a creative economy.

They were just some of the issues explored by high school students this week in a first-of-its-kind learning experience, designed to create a sustainable future for Newcastle.

Pupils from nine secondary educational facilities including Newcastle High, Lambton High, Hunter School of the Performing Arts, West Wallsend High, Merewether High, St Philip’s Christian College, Bishop Tyrrell Anglican College and Big Picture Education Cooks Hill Campus attended the online workshops.

Together, the bright young minds tackled the first two topics of the City of Newcastle Sustainnovation Challenge.

The initiative – created by local company MCB Business Partner – is a community capacity building project delivered under council’s NewSkills and Living Lab programs.

The students pondered and discussed subjects such as “How can our community benefit from being a smart and accessible city?” and “How does a smart city deal with plastic?”.

The remaining themes will be addressed in early 2022.

Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen said City of Newcastle was supportive of the exciting project and the opportunity it presented for young people to contribute to the city’s social, economic and environmental strategies in years to come.

“We’re committed to leading the way in smarter living and creating a sustainable global future for the next generation,” he explained.

“The goal of the Sustainnovation Challenge is to empower the pupils to embrace a new way of thinking and acting.

“In other words, to help create a sustainable future across all sectors of our community.”

Mentored by specialists in smart cities, technology, social inclusion, business and innovation, students were guided through applied innovation, system engineering and other analysis and development tools and principles.

Program director Duncan Burck said ideas showing the greatest smart city potential would progress to council’s Living Lab accelerator program to be possibly implemented.

“Applied innovation is a systematic process of creating ideas to improve or make something work better,” he stated.

“It provides an opportunity to fast-track those things that will enhance our lives, communities and the environment we live in now and for future generations.

“The more we listen to and encourage our young people to share their perspectives, the better the ideas and future decisions we’ll be able to make as a whole community.”

Schools interested in registering can go to www.sustainnovationchallenge.com.au or contact Mr Burck on 0448 654 007.

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