Destination ImagiNation: Non-Profit Program Emphasizes Creativity, Teamwork, Problem-Solving Skills
Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? That’s how we should look at our not-quite-successes, but, all too often, we forget that there’s an upside to making mistakes. We increase our knowledge of what doesn’t work.
That’s the kind of smart thinking that allowed Thomas Edison to accomplish what he did. If it had been paralyzed by a fear of failure, he might never have had that bright flash of discovery.
It's also the kind of innovative learn-through-discovery kind of thinking that underlies a Destination ImagiNation a non-profit program for kids that combines creative thinking, team work, problem solving and ends up with fun.
The program may not be very well known in Canada, but it’s extremely well established in other parts of the world. Each year, DI (a community-based, non-profit, volunteer-driven educational organization) works with more than 250,000 children and young adults in 50 U.S. states and more than 40 countries around the world.
Kids on two- to seven-member teams are challenged to find solutions to both instant challenges and team challenges (which take many months to solve). They present their solutions to appraisers in tournament-style settings. (See second video, below.)
When team members are first confronted with their menu of challenges at the beginning of the DI year (each team tackles five challenges each year), the initial reaction is likely to be, “There is no way we we’re going to be able to solve this problem,” says Kris Bordessa, mother of two, DI volunteer, and the author of the book Team Challenges: 170+ Group Activities to Build Cooperation, Communication, and Creativity (Zephyr Press).
But then they get down to business and the impossible starts to look plausible -- even probable.
Everything is very hush-hush, of course (as is the case with all the very best clubs and discoveries).
One of the cardinal rules of DI is that there is no parental interference. In fact, if a parent suggests a solution or material for the team challenge, the solution or material suggested by the parents is declared off-limits. Kids are taught to respond to helpful hints from well-meaning but overbearing parents with a powerful one-liner that is designed to remind moms and dads that DI is supposed to be building skills in kids, not parents: “That’s a great idea, mom/dad. But now we can’t use it."
The DI year builds toward state (or provincial), national, and global championships. But even at the highest levels, competition is kept in perspective, Bordessa stresses. “There’s no sense of, ‘Ha! We won.’”
Bordessa’s two boys have reaped the benefits of being involved in DI. (Her oldest son has been involved for seven years.) “They’re better at solving life’s little problems. Little things don’t throw them the same way any more. They’re capable of looking at several different ways of solving the same problem. And they are better at communicating whatever it is they want to say.”
These videos will give you a sense of what DI is all about. For specific information about the costs involved in purchasing DI curriculum materials, visit the DI store or contact CreativePrograms.org (a DI affiliate in the GTA).