YOUTH MEDIA: CREATING A VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS
Belize City, 17 August 2011 - Children and youth are generally seen and heard at a distance but seldom allowed to speak for themselves. This emerges as an issue at any discussion on media and the rights of children and young people. Raising awareness about the rights of children and the promotion of children’s rights is a challenge to media. To address this challenge, a youth media training initiative is taking place in the Orange Walk District during the week of 15-19 August 2011 for thirty young people from all districts.
UNICEF Belize and the University of the West Indies Open Campus, Belize are providing this training as part of a two-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to build national capacities to guarantee, achieve and maintain the well-being of children and adolescents in Belize. This training is focused on using new technologies such as social networking tools and digital media to empower children and young people to play an active role in reporting issues that affect them.
In addition the participants are learning about traditional journalism skills such as newswriting, performance and interviewing will be used among others. This training will prepare children and young people to report their own stories in their communities around the country using a variety of media platforms. The training is being conducted by lead instructor Holly Edgell and associate instructors Geraldine Cols Azocar, Christopher Saunders and Maral Usefi along with Aurelio Sho, Nyasha Laing, and Rhazi Kone.
This training will also provide for the creation of a highly interactive space where children and youth will discuss and report on the issues affecting their lives. They will create articles and posts, public service announcements, Facebook pages and blogs, videos and other media materials. Their communications skills and improved web and IT literacy skills will be sharpened. This national workshop will also increase their awareness of other cultures and perspectives as youth from all cultures and districts are represented.
The organizers hope the participants will acquire a greater understanding of how to advocate for social changes that affect them. They will also gain a better understanding of mobile and web-based technologies and how to use them to effect change. This cadre of young citizen reporters, will assist the Belizean media in reporting fairly, honestly and accurately on issues relating to children and youth. Media will also be provided with diverse and creative stories from these young reporters. Finally, it is hoped that all media professionals, and the institutions for which they work, demonstrate their responsibility to recognise children’s rights to expression and reflect them in their work through stories from these young reporters.
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