#YouthVoicesWB Campaign by ResilienceByDesign Research Innocation Lab at Royal Roads University
As the school year starts, we wanted to share information about a youth-focused social media campaign we’ll be launching Sept 29-Oct. 27 that aims to understand, promote and celebrate youth ideas for local action. The #YouthVoicesWB campaign will be asking youth age 14-24: “What Would You Do to Make Your Community Better?” …and inviting them to creatively answer through videos, photos, songs, art, poetry, theatre, spoken word, dance, etc. (Seewww.youthvoiceswb.ca).
As many of you know, the #YouthVoicesWB social media campaign emerged from conversations with youth, youth-serving organizations, governance bodies, schools and other community members about how to engage young people across the Wood Buffalo region. It is connected to the “Youth Voices Rising (YVR): Recovery & Resilience in Wood Buffalo” action research project being coordinated by the ResilienceByDesign Research Innovation Lab at Royal Roads University, and funded by the Canadian Red Cross.
YVR aims to explore and connect young people’s concerns and solutions to the long-term recovery and resilience efforts in the region through their active participation (www.resiliencebydesign.com/yvr). For instance, #YouthVoicesWB will launch during the RMWB Election period so we can link youth ideas to policymakers, and encourage older youth to vote. We’ve even recorded video interviews with the mayoral candidates about engaging youth and will share what they have to say to young people during the campaign.
In the region, #YouthVoicesWB is already underway. Over the summer, youth explored their communities with photography at the YMCA and youth centres in Fort McKay & Janvier; shared songs, poetry and prose at a McMurray Gospel Assembly talent show; and created art at the Justin Slade Youth Foundation. As well, youth are recording songs to answer the question with The Bridge (www.facebook.com/thedistrictstudio); and the Art Foundry at River Station is offering art nights to young people on the campaign theme. We hope to connect with many more youth too at an upcoming Rotary youth event and during Alberta Cultural Days (Youth can stop by the Art Foundry at River Station on Sept 30 to make media!). We’ve uploaded a few examples of youth media we’ll be posting to show you the breadth of creativity and topics being raised by young people in the campaign – www.dropbox.com/sh/1d8dspm6zzruv4w/AABrtz6LkrJzsxhAotA_oH8Ja?dl=0.
We wanted to share this information with you so you can join in! There are multiple ways to do this:
- You can follow #YouthVoicesWB on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter; and encourage the youth you work with to join in (links below).
- You can support youth to create media for the campaign.
- You can share organization posts during the campaign. (For example, we’ll be hosting Wellness Wednesdays to offer youth-friendly wellness advice and connection to local services. Feel free to link relevant youth info to #YouthVoicesWB between Sept 29-Oct 27 to cross-promote the campaign and relevant youth services/activities in Wood Buffalo.)
- You can launch your own discussions & advocacy activities based on what young people are sharing in the campaign.
For #YouthVoicesWB, there are a few ways for young people to share their media. One way is for us to post their content. This can be done anonymously or with only their first name at www.youthvoiceswb.ca. The site is active now, and we’ll post their media between Sept 29-Oct 27. If they are under age 18, we’ll ask them for their parent/guardian details so we can contact them for permission to post the media as part of the YVR project. Once the campaign starts Sept 29, young people can also create and post media to their own social media accounts and link to the campaign at #YouthVoicesWB. In this case, since the post originates from their own social media account, they would not be able to be anonymous—so this is valuable for them to understand. Finally, organizations can also post youth media (with consent) and link it to the #YouthVoicesWB platforms.
As mentioned, the key aim for the #YouthVoicesWB campaign is not only to understand youth concerns, but also to connect them to them to people with can listen and respond. To support this—as part of our research—we’ll identify and share the key themes youth discuss during the campaign; and are promoting listening events next year where youth and key decision-makers can meet in person to talk about the most common concerns and ideas with an eye on responsive action.
As well, for sustainability, we’d love to hand off the #YouthVoicesWB social media platform to the WB youth community as an on-going social media hub for and influenced by youth. We’ve developed recommendations for how this could be done for potential funders, as well as the benefits. Through these efforts, our hope is that the campaign is just the start of actions that support wider youth engagement and influence in the RMWB region. We appreciate working with many of you on these efforts, and we look forward to seeing the young people’s great ideas become reality!
For connecting to the campaign, here are the links: