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Report: UCL Japan Youth Challenge 2019

The 10-day-long 2019 UCL Japan Youth Challenge summer school has come to a close. Jointly organised by the Japan Foundation and UCL, this year saw 52 students from 16 schools across Japan and 36 students from 29 schools around the UK come together to discuss some of the most important challenges facing the UK, Japan and the rest of the world. Throughout their time on the programme, the students also took lessons in each other’s languages to aid mutual understanding.

This year’s theme was Accessibility for All – Sports, AI and Robotics, with the students’ aim being to research, discuss and create innovative solutions to accessibility issues. After getting to know each other, the students heard from senior academics at both Cambridge and UCL to help give them some ideas surround this year’s theme.

The students used their new found inspiration and tackled the issues in small groups, each one deciding on an accessibility theme that they felt was important to them. The wide range of chosen topics included LGBT+ inclusion, visibility of para-sports, access to education and many others. The students discussed the issues and potential solutions at great length, creating a manifesto on how the issues should be approached by various bodies.

The UCL Youth Challenge culminated in the Grand Challenge Symposium. During this event, the students and members of the public were able to listen to a series of talks from researchers and practitioners, including former and current Paralympians, on their experiences surrounding accessibility. This symposium was also a fantastic chance for the students to present their own research on their chosen issues, with each group presenting to both the public and assembled speakers.

The Japan Foundation would like to thank our co-organisers, UCL, and all of the sponsors and volunteers who made this programme such a great success.