Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

Archive for the ‘young people’ Category

Positive Young People

I’ve been to two events recently that continue to highlight for me the benefits of universal youth services for young people and their involvement in delivering them.

The first was the wonderful day in London at the Houses of Parliment where young people and organisations were recognised for the effort they had put into the recent youth elections. As readers of this blog will know, in March this year, 20,088 young people voted in countywide elections for the current 48 members of the West Sussex Youth Cabinet and four Youth MPs.

There are three levels of Democracy Award: Bronze (for at least 50 percent voter turnout), Silver (70 percent), and Gold (90 percent). A record-breaking number of awards were given out this year to 23 schools, colleges, special schools, a middle school and youth organisations across West Sussex. Young people from each of the organisations stood up and spoke about how they had run the elections in their area. What struck me was the extent in which they had used social media and networks to get the information out and share with their friends in their areas. Some groups had organised hustings, others voted in specifc classes. A number of innovation awards were also given for use of pictorial election ballots different ways of promoting the elections.

I’ll talk more about the next event in my next post.

Young Carers Work develops

The weekend before last a group of young carers from West Sussex took part in the 13th Young Carers Festival bringing together young carers from across the country for a weekend packed full of activities at Fairthorne Manor with the support of the YMCA.

This is an annual event and caters for 2000 young carers giving them the opportunity to take a break and spend time with peers, make new friends and share stories. A range of activities from outdoor sports to crafts, discos &  bands on the festival stage this is a fun-filled weekend full of activities. Read more about it from young carers themselves.

Young Carers work throughout West Sussex has developed and has become a great partnership between the Young Carers Service which is part of Social Care and the Youth Support and Development Service. Local groups have been set up across the county and now operate on a fortnightly basis giving all young carers the opportunity to take part in activities especially for them. Alongside this we have an active programme of positive activity days which happen during the holidays providing a range of personal development opportunities where young carers learn a range of different skills and increase their self confidence.

A developing aspect of our work is the creation of a group of older Young Carers (16+) who will be setting themselves up as an independent group to represent the voice of Young Carers and look at Services for them. I’ll report later how it goes!!

Positive Images, Positive Young People

In the governments recent Positive for Youth discussion paper one of the areas under discussion is the negative perception of young people and what can be done about it.  How can we and young people work together to counteract negative media portrayal?

This is a key aim of  West Sussex Youth Service and West Sussex Council of Voluntary Youth Services  who joined together in partnership at the South of England Show to show young people in a different light. Working with young people we developed a main stand, “Teen Square” where young people showed their wide range of talents, and then a number of differing stands and activities to promote the services available to young people. We feel that this both successfully engaged young people giving them an opportunity to perform and showed the wider public what amazing talent we have here in West Sussex! See what you think!

Digital Media in the Youth Work Curriculum

Courtesy of Mosman Library

I am currently looking at the programmes that we will be delivering and developing for the Targeted Youth Support part of our new service. In doing this I have been reflecting on how we ensure that we embraceDigital & Social Media and make sure that they are an inclusive part of what we are doing.

For instance when we are looking at risk taking behaviour, are we making sure that we include online risk? When delivering courses on Independent Living do we include advice and information about identity on line, online gaming, healthy lifestyles and the impact of social media as well as other areas of digital media. Do we support young people in how they can use the internet to find information and check whether this information is correct? What digital literacy are we including in our programmes?

These reflections have been prompted by a number of people and reports, that I have recently heard or read. For example:-

In Munch, Poke, Ping  Stephen Carrick-Davies considers the risks which vulnerable young people, excluded from schools and being taught in Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), encounter online and through their mobile phones.

Sangeet Bhullar  is the Founder and Executive Director of WISE KIDS, a non-profit organisation providing innovative training programmes and consultancy in New Media, Internet and Mobile Technologies, Internet Proficiency, Literacy and Safety. A key aspect of their work is founded on the belief that individuals and communities need the knowledge, skills and tools to understand and harness the power of the Internet and Mobile technologies.

Risks and Safety for Children on the internet: the UK Report by Sonia Livingstone, Leslie Haddon, Anke Görzig and Kjartan Ólafsson presents initial findings from a UK survey of children and their parents designed to provide a unique insight into the balance of opportunities and risks experienced by UK children on the internet

Reading these articles and browsing other articles on line have made me wonder how we start to ensure a systemic approach to ensuring that young people, particularly those not in school settings, gain the skills to make informed choices around their use of the internet.

I’d be keen to know if you’re doing anything around this and how you are making sure that digital literacy gets covered in informal education.

Developing Apps for Charity and Youth Work

I’m intrigued by the possibility of developing apps for working with young people through supporting, advising and educating them in all aspects of personal development. Recently I came across iHobo from Depaul, a youth homelessness charity. The free app is designed to challenge perceptions around homelessness and is the work of charity Depaul UK and advertising agency Publicis London. The Charity  identified that it needs to attract new donors to support it’s work, and promote itself to a younger audience, hence the app. According to Depaul:

“A young homeless person lives on your iPhone for three days. Take care of him, or his life could spiral out of control. You’ll need to be there for him, day and night, providing food, money, warmth and support. He’ll alert you when he gets into trouble or needs your help, and the speed of your response could be the difference between him making it through in one piece, or becoming addicted to drugs. Can you keep him on the straight and narrow?”

I haven’t downloaded the app yet to see it in action however I really like the way in which Depaul have identified where it needs to develop. They’re using a range of social media tools to do this, including youtube and mobile technology. Information available states that the app is designed to make you pay attention, and think about how you can make a difference. It uses Apple’s latest “Push Notification” technology to send alerts to you when iHobo needs help. With live interactive footage it is trying to make this  virtual experience as real as possible. In all sorts of ways it is reaching its target audience through the very medium that they are using daily. How many of us are doing that in our youth work, or childrens services? What sort of things could we do with this if we put our minds to it? Not being technical minded I’m not sure how it all works however I’m sure that there can and will be more public service apps in the future.

iHobo is free to download so why not have a look and give it a try? Let me know your thoughts!

Digital Media, Children and Young People

This summer I really think that we’ve started to integrate digital media into our work across the Youth Service and spread the message of what we do wider. For example, one of the by unintended by products of the young people blogging from India has been the impact on not only on them but also on their communities. Below are a few examples of how blogging has been going inter generational!

Blogging in India

Blogging in India

“Nanny pat been blogging every day and is as proud of you as we are.”

“Nan`s here tonight she`s very proud of  you and has really enjoyed seeing your pictures,teaching her how to blog!!!”

“Aren’t you impressed I am blogging? Look forward to seeing you. Love Nan and Grandadxxx”

“Will get dad to blog tomorrow”

Young people involved in the Inspire India programme all come from targeted backgrounds and it has been amazing to see the communal response to their experiences. Families, carers, workers and friends have been following their adventures, their ups and downs and giving them a lot of encouragement. When we have had to contact individuals we have frequently had comments about groups of relatives and friends sitting around the computer to post comments or to see what has been happening.

As well as this the young people in india have been learning how to use the video and digital cameras to capture ‘the moment’ and then spending time describing their experiences. Many of them have had negative experiences of writing at school however appear much happier to write on the computer and using text language, or textese simplifies communication for them. (Although I have to admit that sometimes I find it difficult to interpret! :)

Young people involved in hosting the chinese on the china exchange programme have been writing up their experience and reflections on the china blog and I’m hoping to post some video feedback from some of their discussions shortly.

As well as this young carers involved in the Summer Camps during the last two weeks have been keeping video diaries. (Again, watch this space for some examples of what they have been up to). We hope that this will develop into an ongoing piece of work with the young carers group that will give them an opportunity to share their experiences as young carers with others.

So……..we are starting to bring together the hardware, experience, knowledge and creativity to help us start taking toddler steps in using digital and social media in youth work. Whilst this is taking a long time I feel that with ongoing hard work and intiaitive we will be able to further develop this work and embed it more fully into our practice.

Positive Stories of Young People

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’ve just been to Worth Abbey to the West Sussex Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award presentation. Even though it’s Sunday afternoon, Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Wimbledon mens tennis final 61 young people, carers and parents took part in the celebrations. So many times young people are maligned in the media for their anti social behaviour, their lack of interest in anything other than computers & TV, that they are no hopers, taking everything and giving nothing. These presentations however give a timely and much needed counter view of young people, congratulating instead a wide range of young people who have shown motivation,  commitment and dedication over a long period of time.

Today we heard from the group who completed their expedition in canoe on the River Wye, and learnt in practice what it means to paddle on a tidal river. (With the water flowing against you for half the time it’s not as simple as floating down the river!) There was a young man who had taken part in a British Schools Exploration Society expedition to the Yukon where he completed both his residential section and his expedition and another who built a kit car for his skills section and credits this with his interest in civil engineering. All of them have completed at least 12 months volunteering supporting their local communities, the environment and others. So here’s to their acheivements, let’s celebrate and share in their enjoyment (and see how many column inches these positive stories earn!!)

Homophobic Bullying

Get Over ItI was in London yesterday at the Stonewall Education for All conference. I hadn’t realised that it’s the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots from which the organisation takes it’s name. Stonewall was founded in 1989 by a small group of women and men who had been active in the struggle against  Section 28 of the Local Government Act. For those that don’t know, Section 28 was legislation designed to prevent the so-called ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in schools. Ultimately, as well as stigmatising gay people it galvanised the gay community and brought about an organisation to lobby and campaign on equality issues for gay people.

As Sir Ian McKellen says “The legal situation is better now but there is still a hangover from Section 28 in schools. Gay issues are not discussed. Gay kids and teachers feel isolated. That’s why I go to schools — faith, comprehensive and private — to talk. And think about it, more and more of the parents who are sending their children to schools are gay themselves. They are not “pretend” families, as Section 28 called them.” From The Times June 23, 2009

The conference built upon the shocking facts about homophobic bullying presented in the School Report. There are some interesting facts in the Teachers report. What I found interesting regarding the facts about who experiences homophobic bullying outlined below is how much gender stereotyping plays such a large part in the bullying that goes on. Whilst those young people who are openly lesbian, gay or bisexual are being bullied boys, in particular, who aren’t conforming to their gender stereotype are bullied more. I am keen to ensure that we tackle homophobic bullying in our youth centres as part of the LGBT Strategy we are developing and will make sure that we pick up on this when we finalise the draft. I am also interested in these statistics as they appear to point to the need for more work on gender. It made me reflect once more on some of the sessions we run at youth centres which have the potential to conform to these stereotypes (the all womens dance groups, the young mens football sessions, the ‘beauty’ sessions) and how we need to ensure that colleagues are clear as to why they are running single gender sessions. An unexpected outcome from today is that I am now reflecting on what further training and support we may need to give in order to ensure that we are not perpetuating gender stereotypes in our work, how about you?

From the Teachers Report, Stonewall

From the Teachers Report, Stonewall

Youth Work Online Unconference

For those of you that haven’t yet picked it up or read it on the Youth Work online ning there will be an unconference this year on 11th July. You can find out more about the Connected Generation: 2009 unconference on online engagement here on Tims blog.

It’s free to attend, in the same place in Central London as last years thanks to Steph Grey and DIUS, and registration is now open.

If you work with young people and are interested in developing ways in which you can use social media and online technologies to engage and work with them then this unconference is an ideal opportunity to meet others and discuss how to make this a reality. It’s  an opportunity to explore big ideas, and the practical realities of weaving the web into work with young people so head on over to Tims site and register now!!

Expanding the potential of social media

 Courtesy of 10ch

Thanks to 10ch

I find it interesting to see how, when discussing social media with others, the almost immediate desire is to use Facebook or Bebo or other Social Networking sites (SNS) to do youth work (or at least support their work). When you look at this in more detail it is mainly because this is a forum that colleagues have heard and know a bit about. Digging even deeper many colleagues aren’t necesarily too sure what they will do with it and how this might expand their youth work.  Mike Amos Simpson picked this up when feeding back about the UKYouthOnline Unconference and made some interesting comments here about youth workers obsession with SNS and limiting ourselves by just focusing on these aspects and not thinking widely enough about how we might maximise the potential of the web and technology. It’s also picked up on the comments section of his post here.

Whilst I’m interested in how we might use SNS in youth work I think you will probably have picked up that I am more excited by how we might use social media in it’s wholeness to support, develop and create the ways in which we work with young people. Mike’s idea of Digital Youth Work is an example of that.

I guess this is why I started out in blogging and then used my understanding of the possibilities with this to encourage some colleagues to try it and look at how they can incorporate blogging as a tool to support various areas of youth work (including recorded and accredited outcomes!). Through my journeys around the blogosphere and the internet in general I come across many examples of how over in the formal education sector so many of our colleagues are / have already been exploring this area. I have been following the Education and Curriculum Masters course for teachers run by Dr. Alec Couros, a professor of educational technology and media at the Faculty of Education, University of Regina . This course encourages teachers to explore and blog about what they are learning with regards to digital media and how it can support teaching in the classroom. I would love to see something like this for youth workers in training (or perhaps there already is and I just don’t know it!).

A few of the other education blogs concerning new technology and its application that I follow are:-

Mr Mayo who is middle school Language Arts teacher in Maryland

Vicki Davis who has been involved in the flatclassroom project and digiteen

The Edublogger

Perhaps if we set up some sort of project to work on online, or share info we could do some more discussion / learning online. Again, in the education sector there are various online forums where educators get together to talk about a subject at a given time and date. Maybe if there is enough interest this is something we could try. (I’d have to get up to speed with Skype and Twitter I feel but I’d give it a go if it meant we moved the ‘community’ forward.) What do you think?

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