YOUTH ENGAGEMENT: Your Voice Heard
No matter where you live in Canada, as teens you continually search for
avenues to express your views on issues facing you - in your life, your school,
your community. Do you have something to say.... OF COURSE YOU DO.
Youth Engagement, Involvement or Activism is basically getting your views out
about whatever you can, whenever you can. It encourages you to speak up and
pursue lasting solutions to problems you care deeply about. It could be joining
a youth group, pursuing a talent you have, volunteering, or expressing your
views through writing, multimedia, public speaking.
As a student journalism program, part of SNNís mission is to provide youth with
a voice that is mostly not available to you in other media forms. Former student
reporter, Ashleigh Viverios of Winkler, Manitoba says it best:
ďSNN is an outlet for teenís ideas, a place where you can
vent, where you can write things that anger you, or that you feel need
recognition. Itís an organization that gives the teenagers of Canada a voice in
a society that sometimes forgets weíre here. SNN gives teens an opportunity to
let their opinions be heard on a national scale. Itís a place where you can be
secure in the knowledge that somewhere out there are students who will read your
article, and nod their heads in agreement.
SNN is for the shy kid that sits at the back of the class, praying that the
teacher wonít call on her. Itís for the popular kid who doesnít know how to make
his opinions known. Itís for the dreamer, who writes articles about the amazing
future we have in front of us. Itís for all the kids who have a passion, whether
it be writing, sports, or movies...whatever it is. SNN gives them a chance to
let their opinions be heard by thousands....Nothing can compare to that.Ē
Being involved in your school, your community brings a new sense of confidence,
self-gratification and a good way to interact in the "grown-up world". It also
enables you to develop new communication, career building and social skills that
will be useful in other facets of your life. Community organizations actively
look to recruit young people because they bring boundless energy, fresh
perspective and vitality to an organization.
Here are some ideas/suggestions you might use to help you develop an article.
1. In the adult world teenagers are generally viewed as self-absorbed,
phone-crazed, promiscuous, TV addicted, alcohol craving, deviants. Stereotyping,
definitely. Nobody likes being labeled - especially teenagers. Over the span of
two-three weeks, watch news shows, read newspapers. What articles/stories do you
see involving young people? Are they good news stories about a student/s doing
something positive OR are they about teens involved in disruptive behaviour? How
many good news stories versus bad news? Why is that? Do you think it is the norm
in media portrayal of teenagers? Invite someone from your local media to your
school/class to discuss this issue.
2. Gather a group of friends/classmates together to discuss the issue raised in
#1. What is their view on how youth are portrayed in the media? Does media use
stereotypes to define your generation? Why is that? Investigate media education
websites to understand how media works on this issue. What can you do to change
how youth are portrayed in the media? If you have a video camera, tape your
discussion. We may put it in our Monthly newscast.
3. Do you feel that if millions of teens weren't out there getting pregnant,
glued to the TV, and driving drunk then adults wouldn't look down on you? Do you
believe that teenagers everywhere pay the price for their peers and put up with
these kind of negative stereotypes?
4. How can you get your views across to the adults in your life, society in
general. Obviously most media outlets do not provide youth forums where young
people can voice their views, their opinions, their stories. Organizations such
as SNN, the Students Commission, YPP, and television programs such as
StreetCents and others provide young people with a place to express themselves
in a journalism/multimedia format. Some newspapers occasionally publish articles
by students. Why is it important to have a place to share your stories, your
views? Does what student Ashleigh Viverios (above) ring true for you? Should
there be more opportunities for young people to express themselves in mainstream
5. As mentioned earlier, most adults tend to only see the bad things youth do
and are somewhat oblivious of the positive contributions teens make to their
communities. Some of the world's greatest accomplishments, as a matter of fact,
came from teens.
- Profile a teen or teens doing something very unique in your community,
nationally or globally
- If you are involved in a school group, youth or volunteer organization, tell
us about it.
- Discuss something that is of importance to you: music, the environment, global
- In Ontario student involvement is now part of the senior high curriculum. What
does this mean to you and how do you feel about it.
LINKS: (Also check out stories in this month's edition related to
Youth Volunteering http://www.pitchin.org/intro.htm
Taking it Global http://www.takingitglobal.org"
Youth Action Network http://www.youthactionnetwork.org
Media Awareness Network http://www.media-awareness.ca
Center for Media Education http://www.cme.org
International Youth Week http://www.youthweek.org
Media Literacy Clearinghouse http://www.med.sc.edu:1081
Children Now http://www.childrennow.org/media/index.html
Media Literacy Links http://interact.uoregon.edu/MediaLit/mlr/resources/resources.html
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