YM: Addressing Social Struggles Through Youth Media

In this session, educators and activists share examples of how youth have used different forms of media as tools to inform, educate, or organize around different social causes. Either through adult facilitation in informal education programs or through youths’ self-organized causes, media has given young people a chance to discover and amplify their voices about the injustices that they observe in their communities. In particular, minority youth in these examples, many who come from underserved communities, have been able to leverage media tools to report on, raise awareness, or create change in communities that have been neglected. These examples highlight issues that are only marginally covered by mainstream media, thus offering additional angles and more importantly, youth perspectives. However, like the diversity of youth and social movements that exist, there is similarly a diversity in how youth approach socially conscious media creation. This panel brings together three youth organizations that will share their approaches on how they have used digital media to address social issues such as racial profiling, environmental justice, and immigration reform.

Radio Rookies is a nonprofit youth media organization that teaches NYC teens how to tell true stories about their lives and communities. The stories are produced to air on WNYC Radio’s news program and NPR.  Radio Rookies gives teens the tools (from digital recording equipment to the integrity of journalism) to empower them to think critically and learn how to tell stories from different perspectives about important issues, ranging from immigration to sexuality to mental health. Teens recently reported on stop and frisk, covering stories about Trayvon Martin and vertical patrols (stop and frisk in public housing buildings).

Global Kids is an educational non-profit that educates youth about global issues. In the Human Rights Activist Project, youth climate activists in New York City use media tools to educate peers and organize around climate change issues. They created an online campaign and petition calling for President Obama to take action on speeding the transition to a green economy. Then, after participating at the Rio+20 UN Earth Summit in Brazil, they used social media, virtual worlds, and video production to champion their campaign and ensure that the voices of urban youth of color in climate change debates is not forgotten.

The Immigrant Youth Justice League is a Chicago-based organization led by undocumented organizers working towards full recognition of the rights and contributions of all immigrants through education, leadership development, policy advocacy, resource gathering, and mobilization. Through a strong online presence where organizing takes place and the use of social media to amplify their campaigns, youth have been able to make their voices heard about immigration reform. In addition, online petitions, story collections, and a website hub provide youth a safe space to ask questions, share experiences, and find community.

We hope these examples will highlight DML practices and innovations that are helpful for others in the community who are working at the intersection of youth media and youth movements.

Daria Ng
Joliz Cedeño
Rigo Padilla
Jack Martin
Courtney Stein
Veralyn Williams