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Caribbean “I MEET UP” Website launched as CARIFESTA X Youth Village closes

© UNICEF/Eastman/2008
I MEET UP takes centre stage. Katrice Massiah, Information Communication Technology Officer, talks about the website as a forum and voice for youth expression.

Guyana, Georgetown, August 29, 2008 - Amidst feelings of mixed emotions children of the Caribbean reflected on the last eight days of sharing and learning, as they bid farewell to each other at the CARIFESTA Youth Village, heading for various Caribbean territories.  A resounding “many shades, one purpose, one voice”, was  also clearly articulated as trainers and participants of the Digiplay Laboratory at the village exuberantly welcomed UNICEF’s new children’s website - “I MEET UP”.

Under the theme, “One Caribbean, One People, Our Life, Our Culture”, the Youth Village provided an opportunity for children and adolescents to showcase as well as experience Caribbean and Latin American culture, while at the same time being exposed to technological skills that will encourage meaningful participation and appreciation of the region’s way of life.  This was further enhanced by the introduction of the I MEET UP interactive website.

I MEET UP provides a space for youth to express themselves and more opportunities for youth to communicate. The site is a youth and multimedia dialogue and information platform designed to engage youth through art, music and culture and to work in partnership with youth to improve opportunities for their expression, meaningful participation and development. Although the website is being launched at CARIFESTA, it extends beyond the event and will also form the foundation for the “connecting classrooms” project envisaged by UNICEF which will connect children in different locations, across the Caribbean, across different cultures to instill respect for diversity and to encourage joint projects and joint learning, whether within or outside the country via the internet.

Youth users can create profiles and upload videos. A fulltime “web gardener” will manage the website to ensure that the information is accurate and concise and create a virtual child friendly environment.  I MEET UP is also a platform for the storage and dissemination of youth productions including feature stories, audio and one minute video stories, blogs, podcasts and vodcasts and will ensure a virtual space for interaction and exchange of information and ideas.

“The website is a portal for the dissemination of information for youth, a source of entertainment and an information resource for Caribbean youth, individuals and institutions working with Caribbean youth through the use of wikis, videos and pictures” explained Katrice Massiah,  UNICEF’s Senior Information Communication Technology (ICT) Officer.  She further explained that “with the mobile version, it facilitates youth without a computer or internet connection to have a voice through their cellular phones which in most regions is easily accessible by most young people.“

© UNICEF/Eastman/2008
I MEET UP and Caribbean Youth. Children, adolescents and adults listen attentively as they are introduced to the I MEET UP website at UNICEF’s colourful Digiplay Lab, CARIFESTA Youth Village.

I MEET UP was a fitting conclusion to an exceptional week of youth creativity at the CARIFESTA X Youth Village. The youth participants and trainers were ecstatic upon viewing the website and on participating in the Digiplay Workshops. “I think it is a good initiative, I MEET UP and Digiplay are very efficient ways of reaching youth and getting their opinions expressed through technology,” stated Amanda Mc Koy, 19, from Guyana.

Seventeen years old Genelva Krind, a DP trainer from Suriname, expressing her thoughts added, “DP, I think is very good for children to introduce new media. I liked it, I didn’t think it would have this impact on children. While the website is a cool idea, I can learn from the exchange of ideas.”

UNICEF’s website will provide follow up support for the DP skills learned and provide opportunities for children and adolescents to showcase their DP videos, interact with other youth from the CARIFESTA Village, enhance their IT skills and heighten awareness of UNICEF’s work in the region.

The Youth Village which was officially opened on August 25, 2008 in Guyana’s National Park as part of the ten-day celebration of the Caribbean Festival of Arts, August 22 to 31, 2008, closed today with a gala ceremony that featured performances from children and cultural groups from across the region. 

Over the last five days of Digiplay workshops, (August 25-29), over 150 children and adolescents produced and proudly showcased over 75 one minute videos generally on issues of child and human rights. Youth trainers from Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago conducted the Digiplay sessions for some 30 children and adolescents each day in the use of the Digital Playground (DP) software. Children from 10 to 18 years, working in pairs were taught the art of making one minute video documentaries using a digital camera, a laptop and the DP software. At the end of the workshop all participants had produced their own movies on issues relating to fashion, HIV and AIDS, health and children’s rights.

For more information:
Leslyn Thompson, lthompson@unicef.org, UNICEF Guyana
Ayanna Eastman - aeastman@unicef.org, UNICEF Trinidad and Tobago

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About CARIFESTA
CARIFESTA is a celebration of the cultural diversity unique to the Caribbean. The festival is organized every two years in a different Caribbean country and brings together thousands of artists, performers and spectators from all over the Caribbean and the world. CARIFESTA aims to depict the life of the people of the Region, their heroes, morale, myth, traditions, beliefs, creativeness, and ways of expression. From 22-31 August, the festival will be organized in Guyana. During CARIFESTA, UNICEF supported a number of activities focusing on children and adolescents.

About UNICEF
UNICEF is on the ground in 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

 

 
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