IdeaGist 2017 Idea Makers: Leah Shapiro, Debate it Forward
IdeaGist is the world’s largest virtual incubator for people with ideas. Here we highlight some of the idea makers and mentors involved in IdeaGist2017.
IdeaGist2017 link: https://ideagist2017.ideagist.com/#/dashboard/idea/42355
Summary of start-up idea: Debate it Forward leverages the power of debate to improve cognitive abilities and social-emotional growth in students typically overlooked by the national debate circuit: young students, students with learning differences, and of low income.
What Leah tells us:
Josh and Leah are currently students at the University of Chicago—Josh is a junior and Leah is a senior. In addition, they run Debate it Forward (DIF) full-time and plan to pursue a career with DIF after graduating.
Leah successfully competed in debate for seven years, ranking third nationally her senior year in high school. But despite her achievements, she says she wasn’t a fan of the competitions.
“I found them to be highly stressful, and most of the education happened prior to the tournaments,” she says.
Leah began exploring a better way to make debate more appealing and less stressful to a wider range of students. Her inspiration came from a delightfully impromptu encounter with her young cousins :
“Fast forward to 2016. I was with my two little cousins in the car,” she explains. “The youngest, six years old, was throwing a tantrum in the backseat. The only thing I could think of to distract him with was debate.
“I said to him, “We’re going to play a game. I’m going to say something and you need to prove me wrong! He was instantly captivated and we played debate for more than an hour.
“I began thinking if I could find a way to deemphasize the competitive nature of debate, it could probably be expanded to a much broader base of kids. I approached Josh with the idea and he took the leap of faith with me.”