By Nadine Maarhuis
Before launching a social enterprise, Shawna Snow worked as a science teacher in California. Being part of the educational field on a daily basis enabled her to discover the gaps in the current system. In order to fill these gaps and make a positive contribution to society, in 2009 Shawna decided to launch her social enterprise: Reckoning.
Central to Reckoning’s core values is the belief that social non-cognitive skills are the foundation of all other types of learning. Therefore, Reckoning uses art as a means to foster other skills.
‘’Whilst making art, people are often more holistic in their approach and therefore not aware of why they’re making the object the way they do. However, this does not mean that their final product isn’t a reflection of their ideas, emotions and stances in life. By encouraging youngsters to make art and reflect upon it afterwards, Reckoning enables them to become aware of their own ideas, emotions, thoughts and feelings.’’, Shawna tells.
Furthermore, once an individual is able to reckon what’s happening inside themselves, they’re also able to become aware of and reflect upon the society around them and thereby to start making a change.
According to Shawna and her team, every person is able to contribute to society by fostering positive change: ‘’Despite of what many people often say, we do believe that one person can make a world of a difference.’’, Shawna says. This is reflected in Reckoning’s Insite initiative: a seven-month program for international secondary school students in the Netherlands that centres around social justice, local leadership and recognising opportunities for positive change. At the end of the program, Reckoning takes the young adults to South Africa where they experience what it’s like to be a local leader.
In addition, the young adults get the chance to practice the process of ‘reckoning’: ’’By being in a society in which the gap between rich and poor is much more visible, upon return the young adults
find themselves more aware of the more hidden, but ever present, social problems in The Netherlands as well.’’, Shawna explains.
Moving into the future, Reckoning is excited to launch a new program this fall: the Mashup Academy. The Mashup Academy will provide trainings in both technical as social skills to marginalised youth in Amsterdam. ‘’In ten years, we would like to have replicated the Mashup academy in other countries as well.’’.
That’s our goal: to bring technical and social skills to marginalised youth in as many places as we can.’’, Shawna tells excitedly. And so are we!