Gerald Koller

Ashoka Fellow
,
Fellow Since 2011
Forum Lebensqualität Österreich

Citation

This profile was prepared when Gerald Koller was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
Gerald’s core realization based on his experience in the addiction prevention field is that young people naturally seek risky behavior, extraordinary sensations, and rule breaking. He directs teenagers and young people toward responsible behavior in everyday risky activities, including sports, driving, and recreational activities involving alcohol or drugs. Gerald focuses his approach on young people who are still developing an understanding of their identities and limits, rather than risk addicts or substance abusers.

Gerald’s programs build individual coping mechanisms for reflecting and reacting to risk and pressure, which can prevent the development of addiction. He believes that young people need to master the skill of responsible behavior under stress, since they are particularly vulnerable to peer pressure and often lack a balance between routine and risk in their lives. Gerald’s programs provide practical, empowering opportunities for youth to experience extreme situations in an interactive space. This process allows them to observe their own behavior and reflect upon their actions. Gerald’s efforts reinforce an individual’s understanding of routine behavior while also equipping students to make deliberate decisions before committing to a situation of risk or danger. His goal is to radically change addictive patterns in Europe, while also establishing a functional model for risk-responsible behavior of youth worldwide.

The central pillar of Gerald’s growth strategy is a certification program that trains the next generation of risk educators. Teachers, youth, social workers, and decision makers in local communities are trained to become champions of the idea and co-create risk-education projects in their own communities. Gerald’s approach has already been implemented by youth and social service organizations, and has growing support from citizen-based initiatives and governments, including the cities of Vienna and Salzburg. In addition, there is increasing demand for his approach in Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and Switzerland.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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