“I think social change can come from any direction. Creative expression can be spread globally, which means it goes beyond culture, generation, gender, religion, and location. Creative expression doesn’t say ‘you should do this’ but it makes people think ‘I can do something’—it leads to social change” —Saori Miyagawa, Adobe Youth Voices Facilitator
One of the current programs delivered by TakingITGlobal is Adobe Youth Voices (AYV). The goal of Adobe Youth Voices is to actively engage under-served youth in thinking critically about local and global issues through the creation of multimedia artwork. Young people are exposed to a wide range of global issues through AYV ranging from climate change and environmental degradation to cultural identity, gender equality, and access to education. TakingITGlobal provides online training and support to educators worldwide who then deliver local youth media programs such as AYV in their communities.
Participating educators and youth are passionate about education and change in their communities. Adobe Youth Voices enables them to express their passion by providing them with educational digital media tools. Utilizing the power of technology as a vehicle for youth education and social change is a central philosophy of TakingITGlobal.
AYV @ TIG
Through Adobe Youth Voices, TakingITGlobal trains educators located all over the world to use Adobe Elements software, and to facilitate youth workshops in a way that enables critical inquiry and consciousness building about social issues. The aim of the program is to provide youth participants with a platform for creating meaningful artwork encompassing various global issues. Young people have the desire to affect change, but often lack opportunities to take on meaningful leadership roles. Adobe Youth Voices provides access to tools, resources, and platforms for youth to creatively share their perspectives, ideas and experiences and to assert themselves as agents of change.
Manthan Charles is a 14-year-old boy in Bhatera, India and an active Adobe Youth Voices participant. When asked about the importance of initiating self-expression for young people, Manthan responded “I feel my ideas are very important because youth can become leaders and do many good things. I think youth can do a lot for society and influence social change. However, young people do not always get the proper guidance and knowledge in order for them to create positive changes in the world. Through the Adobe Youth Voices program we can form new perspectives”.
Anna Flavia Pinheiro, a youth participant from Brazil, shared with us that Adobe Youth Voices has demonstrated the possibilities for people worldwide to join together. She continued by saying, “Creating means to materialize the social inclusion of people who have no access. [AYV] is a brilliant and innovative initiative and it should happen in all of the companies that need new ideas, a youth voice”.
During its pilot cycle, TakingITGlobal has successfully implemented Adobe Youth Voices in partnership with 24 organizations in 6 different countries, engaging 48 educators, and over 1, 000 youth participants.
Manthan enjoys the Adobe Youth Voices program because “The course gives me space to have a voice and share my thoughts. I love learning about computers and global issues. This course gives me new viewpoints and ways of envisioning social change. I am interested to learn more and more”. Through Adobe Youth Voices, Manthan has developed a keen interest in issues of poverty, climate change and access to education in rural India. During his involvement with the program, Manthan created a digital video showcasing the community work he is taking part in. He and 6 of his classmates are currently participating in a community-driven initiative that provides local farmers with access to information about alternative methods of crop fertilization. This initiative has successfully motivated 50 farmers in 2 villages to use organic manure in place of chemical fertilizers.
Manthan’s video has successfully given global visibility to a small youth-driven community initiative in rural India. Using digital media, he has been able to creatively share his experience as a young environmental activist with countless youth and educators worldwide.
Building a Global Community
Adobe Youth Voices fosters a creative space for an international online community where educators from around the world can interact. This online community is also a space where program participants can virtually display their finished artwork, enter art contests and access training resources.
The participants within TakingITGlobal’s AYV community are eager to forge meaningful relationships, support each other, and exchange their unique experiences and worldviews. The program provides a space for like minded educators and youth to connect across borders and take action together.
The Importance of Fostering Youth Media
Education systems worldwide need to be reconceptualised in order to address high levels of inaccessibility and disengagement among youth. Adobe Youth Voices addresses this need by recognizing the importance of new models of education such as youth media making. Youth media can be seen as a progressive form of education which nurtures critical awareness and youth activism.
Perhaps most importantly, the Adobe Youth Voices program successfully links creative expression with social activism. The successes of the Adobe Youth Voices program illustrate how technology can be harnessed to create interactive forms of education that empower youth to be informed and engaged global citizens.
Jennifer Corriero is the co-founder and executive director of TakingITGlobal, an online learning community for youth interested in global issues and creating positive change. Her extensive experience includes developing and driving youth programs related to technology, collaboration and entrepreneurship, and designing and delivering interactive learning experiences to empower youth and community leaders. She has been a delegate to the World Summit on the Information Society; she’s presented and supported civil society engagement at events including the World Urban Forum, World Summit on Sustainable Development and other global forums. Corriero has been a youth engagement strategy consultant for Microsoft, TD Bank, Ontario Science Centre and the Canadian Government. She earned her BA in Business, Communications, Technology and a Masters in Environmental Studies from York University. An innovator, leader and engaging public speaker, she has been widely recognized by various conferences, organizations, universities and mainstream magazines for her tireless efforts in motivating the youth of the world. Contact her through TakingITGlobal.