From 2008 – 2014, children from FHF Children’s Shelter have had numerous opportunities to give back to their community, including: building their own volunteer service clubs to help build schools with Sunflower Mission, educating their peers on personal hygiene and environmental health with HIPE, serving elderly and disabled children, distributing medicine to rural communities, and assisting during annual flooding disasters. Through this process, as well as through our many leadership initiatives, many of these kids have discovered their own leadership skills individually and as part of a team. Because of this, we’ve witnessed an incredible shift in the way that they see themselves as confident, creative, talented individuals.

These experiences have sparked a culture change in positive youth development for everyone in our shelter, and we hoped to contribute to this global movement of youth empowerment by recreating this experience for many more kids in Vietnam. With a generous grant from 11plus, we were given the opportunity to expand our critical service learning program utilizing design thinking to 5 other Children’s Shelters and and other children in the Hue community! Enter, The Lighthouse: Creative Leadership Experience.

In 2014, The Lighthouse: Creative Leadership Experience was founded, a six month, research- and project-based program that sought to cultivate professional skills for 40 disadvantaged youth around the Hue community. The youth participants experienced a 10-day immersive camp, where they learned how to design and execute their own service-learning project for their communities using the concepts of design thinking and critical service learning. Each subsequent monthly workshop or in-service training focused on teaching the cohort a different professional skill that they could apply to their project so that their community efforts had the most impact. We hoped that this leadership experience could empower youth to enact great change within their own communities.

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