Title of the case study: Youth Voice News Centre (LSE Enterprise Limited, 2013, p. 107)
Description of the case study: The city of Helsinki funds a project called Youth Voice News Centre, which could be seen as a youth media participation project. It was set up in 2006 after an open forum meeting between young people and politicians on the theme of youth and media. It can be considered an innovative way to stimulate youth participation.
Case Study: Some 40 young people from 13 to 20 years of age participate in the project; most participants are 16-17 years old. Participants meet twice a week to discuss about which issues they want to produce media content. The project is run in a partnership with the Finnish public service broadcaster YLE and Finland’s largest newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. The blog of Suomen Kuvalehti, a Finnish weekly magazine, is also used as an outlet. When those mainstream media organisations accept the idea and topic selected by the group, the young people start to produce the news article or the short documentary.
The idea behind the project is that young people make all the decisions. Those running the project just provide technical assistance and the mainstream media organisations decide which article or idea for a documentary they wish to run or broadcast. In 2011, nine documentaries were produced and broadcast on YLE, 13 articles were published in Helsingin Sanomat and 45 blog articles posted on the Suomen Kuvalehti blog.
Many of the stories young people wish to report on involve interviewing politicians, which is overall a very positive and enriching experience for them as the project leader points out:
‘It’s important for them to feel that as a 14 year old and they can go and discuss this with that politician’.
At at times this can also lead to tensions because of the critical nature of their questions, which the project leader acknowledges is as such a good thing:
‘Many of the subjects young people cover can start conflicts in our own department but that’s good’ (f2f interview, Helsinki, 1/2/12).
Young people active in the project are overall very positive about the opportunities provided to participate in democratic life:
‘People who join our group realise that everything is politics. So they become more interested in politics’ (face2face interview, Helsinki, 8/02/12).
They are also very positive about what they can achieve through the project in terms of having a real impact on the world around them and the link with mainstream media is important in this regard in terms of increasing media resonance for this issues they address. Examples in this regard were reports on the exploitation of young people employed by an amusement park, corruption regarding the attribution of contracts for school photographers or the use of surveillance technology to illegally monitor students’ internet use in schools. In relation to the last example, one participant claimed:
‘I’ve got the feeling that I have the power to change things’ (f2f interview, Helsinki, 8/02/12).
Title of the case study: Woodside High School London, UK (Schools For Future Youth, 2015)
Description of the case study:
We live in a world where our lives increasingly affect the lives of other people living in countries and places far away from our own homes. So the choices we make and the lives we lead have a global impact. The global citizen is aware of these global connections and is prepared to take action to make the world better or fairer for all its inhabitants.
On the 17th June 2015, 23 students from the Woodside High School’s Youth Ambassador Group attended the “Speak Up on Climate” event in London. The goal of this major event was to ask British Members of Parliament (MPs) to do more to tackle climate change. Around 9000 people attended and lobbied over 300 MPs.
The Youth Ambassadors decided to do this after learning about how climate change affects the food system and realising the importance of MPs doing something about it.
Case Study: They prepared for the day by using their art class to design placards and banners to bring to the event. Finally, they met with Oxfam on the day of the event to practice meeting their MP. The group rehearsed with each other to build up their confidence.
At the event they met with other organizations to discuss why it’s important to tackle climate change. Finally, they met their MP, and gave her letters they had written explaining their concerns about climate change and asking her to represent their opinions in Parliament.
Catherine West, their MP, was very happy to meet with the Youth Ambassadors and promised to bring their letters to the attention of Parliament. She also wrote about their meeting on social media.
During the evaluation the students said they really enjoyed the day and felt empowered by being part of a bigger movement. They felt they developed their skills and confidence in influencing, although some said it was difficult to talk with politicians. However, all felt they had learned a lot and would feel more confident to engage with MPs again about other critical issues.