DIGITAL APPROACHES FOR BETTER YOUTH ACTIVISM AND YOUTH PARTICIPATION
Foreword This booklet is a product of the project “Promoting Youth Activism in Multiethnic Communities” implemented by the Center for Intercultural Dialogue CID. It provides a collection of tools and activities to improve youth activism in general young people using digital means, tips, and tricks for digital activism, a description of the used digital tools, and recommendations for interesting activities and campaigns that can be implemented online. We want to thank everyone who contributed to the project and the development of this publication, all the participants of the advocacy campaigns, as well as the Digital Youth Activists and relevant stakeholders who contributed with their inputs and made each of these campaigns possible.
Author: Andrijana Tashevska This project was supported by the National Endowment for Democracy NED.
INTRO Young people worldwide are increasingly connected, using the internet and digital tools to build their communities, interact with other similar-minded people, advocate, express themselves, organize events, claim space and agency in their societies, and adopt new forms of participation. For many youth-led social movements, one of the most important changes of the 21st century has been the shift from primarily in-person activity to increasing online activity and forms of activism using various digital tools and social media. This trend was even more pronounced with the advent of COVID19, as curfews and physical distancing enforcement have made people more dependent on digital tools to connect and communicate, on both personal and societal levels. Promoting Youth Activism in Multiethnic Communities is a project funded by National Endowment for Democracy NED and implemented by Center for Intercultural Dialogue. This project is designed to address the rising need for active civic engagement of young people in the community due to the effects of the pandemic. Based on the lessons learned from the past projects, this project will create space for young people to advance their skills in Human Rights, Intercultural dialogue, civic engagement, and advocacy by using different digital tools.
(DIGITAL) YOUTH ACTIVISM AND YOUTH PARTICIPATION
Digital youth activism and youth participation refers to the use of the internet, social media, mobile technology and other information and communication technologies ( ICTs) to enable young people’s participation in democratic life. It is also sometimes called e-participation or smart participation. Young people face a serious array of development challenges, and their needs and priorities do not get the attention they deserve. Young people often face multiple and interlocked forms of discrimination and significant barriers to full participation in public life – having adverse impacts on the economy, politics, peace and development at large.
At the same time, the trend of digital civic activism has generated a debate around its effectivity and impact. Actions such as posting or sharing photos, videos and memes are difficult to measure and evaluate and are by nature spontaneous, momentary and elusive. Digital activism has been dismissed as ‘slacktivism’ or ‘clicktivism’ that gives people a false sense of making a difference and inhibiting more effortful, effective offline civic engagement. However, this view is simplistic: while there is mixed evidence that engaging in online activism may subdue offline engagement, other evidence suggests that in some cases, online and offline actions are relatively unrelated – either people act differently online versus offline or it is different people engaging in online versus offline actions. The two can also be seen as correlating phenomena:
people’s online and offline behaviors are intertwined, and one person’s online activism can mobilize others for offline civic action
HOW DIGITAL WORLD AND DIGITAL TOOLS ENABLE YOUTH ACTIVISM AND YOUTH PARTICIPATION
Youth participation can be enhanced by the digital world and its tools by offering; Information channel: a resource that connects young people to information that encourages their participation. For instance, news sources, details on political discussions, and information relevant to the youth. Communicational channel: through which young people can communicate with each other, and other people relevant to youth participation, such as decision makers. A platform to create, share and distribute content. For instance, to recruit new project participants, or to distribute a campaign message, A virtual space in which youth participation activities can take place and where virtual communities can form
Nearly all forms of youth participation can be re-created in a digital format in some way. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many youth participation projects transferred their activities exclusively to digital formats. For example, youth council meetings or youth conferences can be hosted through video chat, training and workshops as well. The digital world also gives the potential to create new methods of participation which could not be implemented in the physical world. Without physical barriers and limits, it becomes possible to do things like involving very large numbers of people or hosting interactions with people in multiple places across the world simultaneously. More commonly though youth participation initiatives are now regularly combining face to face and digital interactions together in a blended approach. Many projects might create a group chat or social media page to enable participants to interact with each other outside of physical meetings, or to publicise the projects.
Definition of Digital Competence Digital competence is a combination of knowledge, skills, and attitudes with regard to the use of technology to perform tasks, solve problems, communicate, manage information, collaborate, as well as to create and share content effectively, appropriately, securely, critically, creatively, independently, and ethically. The concept of digital competence has emerged concurrently with technological development and as society has recognized the need for new competencies. The development of technologies enables and constantly creates new activities and goals, and the importance of digital competence is therefore constantly changing and must always be seen in relation to the current technology and its application.
LOCAL YOUTH ADVOCACY CAMPAIGNS
Using the digital tools and the knowledge on the topics given in the trainings the participants created and implemented four initiatives on raising awareness on topics such as human rights, gender equality, mental health, intercultural dialogue, and civic engagement among their peers.
1st Local Youth Advocacy Campaign is tackling the topic on raising awareness for Human Rights The planed activity for this initiative was online campaign that was done by using digital tools such as Canva and Instagram. The young leaders of this initiative had meetings on which they discussed the Human Rights and made a common understanding for them. Once the young people were on the same page on understanding the Human Rights they choose some of the rights that they thought that are relevant for them and put them on piece of paper preparing them for the online campaign. The young people holding the signs on the photos are some of their peers that liked their idea and joined them on this local advocacy campaign for raising awareness for Human Rights. In total there were 9 posts posted on Instagram and on those posts 18 young people were holding handwritten Human Rights on paper.
2nd Local Youth Advocacy Campaign is tackling the topic Intercultural Dialogue The goal is to promote intercultural dialogue as the best tool for a peaceful world between different cultures. The plan is to achieve that by organizing a workshop on the topic intercultural dialogue and preparing posters that have quotes regarding intercultural dialogue. The leaders of this initiative had regular meeting for planning and implementing the initiative. Meanwhile the young people leaders of this initiative and as part of the volunteering club in CID and the youth center MultiКулти organized a gathered celebration of Easter and Iftar dinner on 26th of April because this year Easter and Eid al-fitir were in the same month. The idea of this celebration was celebrating two different ethnic holidays in one. The young people organized themselves in preparing the food for the dinner and bringing the colored eggs as a tradition on celebrating Easter. On this event we had in total 26 participants. The second part of this initiative was organizing the workshop that was held in the youth center on 16th of June where 10 participants took part. On the workshop they had different activities which consisted of group work and discussions. At the end of the workshop the participants prepared 3 posters with quotes for intercultural dialogue using Canva as a digital tool. The posters were presented to wider audience on the final event of the initiative Kumanovo needs a Cinema.
3rd Local Youth Advocacy Campaign is tackling the topic of Youth Participation and Advocacy “The youth is calling for a cinema! Are you going to answer?” The people in Kumanovo, Lipkovo and Staro Narogichane (especially the youth) is really affected by the pandemic that made them close off and unsocialized. We are aware that everyone stayed home and spent their time mindlessly scrolling through social media and using online platforms for watching movies and tv shows. The idea of the leaders of this initiative is to advocate for space where they can watch movies together, space for cinema, that will come as a refreshment for the youth, where they can come out of their comfort zone but also make them feel comfortable while socializing. The youth is desperate for a change, the monotone city life makes them feel even more isolated. Instead of socializing and watching movies with their friends, they watch them alone in their own rooms. They are also tried to travel to Skopje just for a movie because not only the waste a lot of time in travelling but they also have extra costs for it. As we know, when you are young you don’t have your own money and you depend on your parent’s financial support. Not only is that a problem for the youngsters, that’s also a big issue for the parents.
The leaders of this initiative had regular meetings where they prepared an online survey from witch they collected information’s and opinions of young people regarding the issue that young people are facing. In total they gathered 122 answers that they collected and presented in an Instagram posts with charts of the key findings.
After collecting the results, the leaders of this initiative together with the leaders of the initiative tackling the topic of Mental Health and Gender Equality organized a gathered event that was held on 21st of June. This event was a mixture of sports activities, presentation of the posters prepared for the initiative Intercultural dialogue and open cinema. The venue for this event was the back yard of the primary schools “Vuk Karadzic” and “Naim Frasheri” which has an interesting background one school is Macedonian and the other is Albanian. On this event we gather 108 participants and we are proud to the promotion and the work that the young people had done. On the event we had support from the Police Prevention Department. The last part of this initiative was presenting the results of the initiative in the municipality and advocating for a space where young people can organize movie nights. The young leaders organized a meeting with the youth officer in the municipality where they stated all of the points that they meet during the implementation of the initiative. The youth officer agreed with the young people that there was a lack of activities and spaces for young people to socialize and promised that in the future he will contact them for further cooperation and finding a space for having cinema nights for young people.
4th Local Youth Advocacy Campaign is tackling the topic of Mental Health and Gender Equality The idea of this initiative came from the young people having regular meetings they discussed and prepared the initiative to be in two parts. First part is having an online survey where they will collect the opinions and thoughts of young people regarding the situation on Mental health among young people, what kind of problems they are facing and what can help them in getting better. In this survey in total 60 young people took part. After collecting the answers from the survey, the leaders of this initiative brought the answers all together and concluded that: The young people in Kumanovo, Lipkovo and Staro Narogichane are really affected by the pandemic that made them be unsocialized and they started to have different mental health issues such as anxiety, self-doubt, afraid to be in bigger crowds etc. However, the most mention thing that they want to do for improving this was having more outdoor activities and have a common space where they can gather with their peers. So as a follow up to this survey the young people organized an outdoor sport activity where they played basketball in mixed teams (Albanians, Macedonians, Serbs and male-females). This event was a final event of 3 initiatives gathered together and they were two parts of the event the first one was playing basketball and the second was open cinema where 108 young people took part.
Some photos from the final event of implementin the initatives
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR DIGITAL TOOLS AND THEIR USAGE
What are digital tools? Digital tools are programs, websites, or online resources that can make tasks easier to complete. A lot of these can be accessed in web browsers without needing to be downloaded. Which digital tools were included in this project? During the implementation of this project, the young people involved in the training had a chance to explore, learn and work on different digital tools which the project team thought will be useful for them. Below is the list of digital tools that were used:
www.canva.com Canva is a graphic-design tool website, that gives you space for creating photos, posters, badges, banners, certificates, etc. It uses a drag-and-drop format and provides access to over a million photographs, graphics, and fonts. USAGE Canva is a website for design, which allows you to create visually attractive content in an easy way. It gives you already prepared templates, you can share the designs with your friends and co-workers and also give them access as editors.
www.kahoot.com Kahoot is a free game-based learning platform that can be played by multiple users at the same time. You can use this tool via smartphone, tablet, or computer. USAGE Kahoot can be used for playing Interactive quizzes with the target groups that can involve everyone, for example, in school presentations or awareness-raising events.
www.menti.com Mentimeter is a tool that you can use for engaging and interacting with your target group. It‘s an application where you can set your questions and everybody can give their input in real-time. USAGE Mentimeter can be used for voting during meetings, quizzes, surveys, gathering opinions in real-life, anonymous answers on topics, or voting. Mentimeter helps you when you are preparing creative presentations to make them more interactive.
www.prezi.com Prezi is an online presentation software that allows for creating, editing, and analyzing non-linear presentations. It helps you organize your thoughts and deliver them in a clearer way that really makes an impact on your audience. USAGE Prezi can be used for public presentations; pitching ideas or concepts and awareness raising. Prezi gives you a limitless zoomable canvas and the ability to show relationships between the big picture and fine details. The added depth and context make your message more likely to resonate, motivate, and get remembered.
www.zoom.us Zoom is a cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, collaboration, chat, and webinars across mobile devices, desktops, telephones, and room systems. USAGE Zoom can be used for everyday communication that combines video conferencing, online meetings, chat, and mobile collaboration.
www.photoshop.com/ Adobe Photoshop is a photo editing, image creation, and graphic design program. The software provides many image editing features for raster (pixel-based) images as well as vector graphics. It uses a layer-based editing system that enables image creation and altering with multiple overlays that support transparency. USAGE Adobe Photoshop allows you to create visual content for any kind of event or promotional purposes, such as posters, flyers, photomontages, and collages. It allows you to improve the quality of photos or other images and create a bigger visual impact. It offers numerous possibilities and the creations you make are easy to transfer exact appearance.
www.adobe.com/pt/products/illustrator Adobe Illustrator is a standard vector graphics software (program) that allows you to create logos, icons, drawings, typography, and illustrations for print, web, video, and mobile devices. USAGE Adobe Illustrator is a tool that helps you to create everything from web icons, product packaging, or illustrations to books and billboards. It allows you to customize your overall workspace. The resolution of the designs that you create is always sharp, giving you options for every dimension. The program also allows you to design multimedia for various purposes, as well as share the designs in manageable sizes.
https://www.google.com/forms/about/ Google Forms enables you to create Web forms that store data in Google Sheets. Themes enable you to customize the look and feel of your form. Item types include text, paragraph, multiple choice, and choose from a list, scale, or grid. USAGE Make questionnaires; surveys with a specific theme; do research, collect data, etc.
BEST PRACTICES AND USEFUL ACTIVITIES
Active engagement and quizzes Engaging young people in order to make a change in the society Tools: Mentimeter and Kahoot CHALLENGE / TASK We needed a tool to present and engage the participants through digital devices making sure they stay focused on the topic instead of using their phone to check random things. DIGITAL SOLUTION We used Mentimeter and Kahoot as one of the platforms for presentation and participants active engagement through quiz challenges and questions to answer on their phone. USAGE for gathering anonymous opinion; As energizers, to engage people actively; More efficiency during training; Pub quiz; You can export the answers in PDF in a nice report. Under customize bar check the ‚hide results to make the answers invisible while people are answering. This adds an excitement and people don‘t get influenced by the others answers.
Space for sharing the creativity within us; preparing online campaigns Tool: Canva CHALLENGE / TASK We needed a key visual design for our flyers, posters and social media postings for our local advocacy campaignes DIGITAL SOLUTION Our team of young people used Canva for creating all the visuals for their local advocacy campaigns USAGE Creative digital visuals for media posts, posters for sharing around the city, preparing presentation for their workshops etc.
Research for topics related to the youth Tool: Google forms CHALLENGE / TASK We needed a tool that could help young people gather more opinions from their peers online DIGITAL SOLUTION The young people used Google Forms as a tool for preparing survey that can be shared online with their peers USAGE Crating and sharing a survey within young people and gathering as much as possible information for a raised topics.
About Center for Intercultural Dialogue (CID)
Center for Intercultural Dialogue (CID) is a civil society organization working to promote intercultural acceptance and active citizenship through capacity building processes, education and youth work. The organization’s activity focuses on many aspects which are of interest for young people: from provision of services and information, to research and support for policy-making and networking. CID is working to create diverse responsible and cooperative communities where citizens are actively contributing to the social development and integration. Our mission is to ensure sustainable community development by creating opportunities for quality engagement of civil society, advancing learning opportunities, and active involvement of young people and other citizens. More about CID can be found on: www.cid.mk