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Adolescents and youth

Virtual video-making in Teen Second Life spreads the message on child rights

UNICEF Image: Convention of the Rights of the Child, Second Life
© UNICEF video
The online public screening of youth videos on child rights was a red-carpet affair on Global Kids Island in the virtual world, Teen Second Life.

By Rachel Bonham Carter

NEW YORK, USA, 20 November 2007 – To mark the 18th anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), a group of teenage videographers has given an online screening of their short videos made in the virtual world of Teen Second Life.

The children – from Finland, the United Kingdom and the United States – each made a one-minute video about child rights during a summer camp led by the New York-based non-profit Global Kids, with support from UNICEF.

The five-week-long project, which all took place in Teen Second Life, began with two weeks of workshops on the CRC using information provided by UNICEF.

“Although the campers knew that children have rights,” said Global Kids volunteer Nafiza Akter, 17, “they didn’t know what was in the document specifically. After the camp, they really learned about what different rights the document guaranteed children around the world.

“And I think it made them compassionate,” Nafiza added, “because you realize that children should be having these rights and yet they’re violated.”

The art of ‘machinima’

The Convention, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20 November 1989, is made up of 54 articles covering the fundamental rights of under-18s. It is guided by four key principals:

  • Non-discrimination
  • The best interests of the child
  • Survival, development and protection
  • Youth participation.

The Global Kids campers chose a theme raised by the CRC and, during the final three weeks of the project, learned the art of ‘machinima’, or video-making in a virtual environment.

UNICEF Image: Convention of the Rights of the Child, Second Life
© UNICEF video
A participant in the summer camp operated by Global Kids with support from UNICEF to teach youths how to create virtual videos on children’s rights.

“They learned a lot of transferable skills in this camp,” said Global Kids Second Life Education Specialist Tabitha Tsai. “They were able to learn how to capture angles, tell a story and raise awareness on a right, while at the same time having fun with it.”

Red-carpet screening

The online public screening was a red-carpet affair on Global Kids Island in Teen Second Life. Each camper introduced his or her own machinima video and answered questions on the camp experience.

The videos covered topics such as drugs, health care, the media, play, disabilities and children in armed conflict. They were shown alongside a selection of real-world short videos made by teenagers taking part in the ‘One Minute Jrs’ project run by UNICEF and the Sandberg Institute. Watching the shorts had been a part of the campers’ training during the summer.

Outside the online screening room stood a large virtual birthday card commemorating the 18th anniversary of the CRC. Visitors could click on it and be sent directly to the UNICEF website for more information on child rights, and to view the videos.

Understanding the message

Almost 100 visitors sent their online identities, or avatars, to the screening. Global Kids handed out free virtual popcorn and child rights t-shirts, and threw a virtual dance party to celebrate the successful project.

“We feel that making machinima is an excellent way to share the kids’ work with the public because you don’t need to know Second Life to watch a movie or to understand what their message is,” said Ms. Tsai.

She noted that next summer Global Kids hopes to expand the camp, and its collaboration with UNICEF, to include more children from around the world.




19 November 2007:
UNICEF correspondent Rachel Bonham Carter reports on videos made by youths in Teen Second Life, inspired by the Convention of the Rights of the Child.
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