Youth Media Belize: Creating a voice for the voiceless
Children and youth are generally seen and heard at a distance but seldom allowed to speak for themselves. This emerges as an issue at any discussion on media and the rights of children and young people. Raising awareness about the rights of children and the promotion of children’s rights is a challenge to media. To address this challenge, a youth media training initiative was held in the Orange Walk District (August 15-19, 2011) for thirty young people from all districts of Belize.
UNICEF Belize and the University of the West Indies Open Campus, Belize provided this workshop as part of a two-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to build national capacities to guarantee, achieve and maintain the well-being of children and adolescents in Belize. The training focused on using new technologies such as social networking tools and digital media to empower children and young people to play an active role in reporting on issues that affect them.
In addition the participants learned about traditional journalism skills such as newswriting, performance and interviewing. The trainings were conducted by instructors Holly Edgell, Geraldine Cols Azócar, Christopher Saunders and Maral Usefi along with Aurelio Sho, Nyasha Laing, Leonardo Melendez and Rhazi Kone. Through the Youth Media Belize consultation, UNICEF and the UWI seeks to develop a highly interactive space where children and youth could discuss, report on issues affecting their lives, and sharpen their communications, web and IT literacy skills.
Participants of the Youth Media Belize workshop acquired a greater understanding of how to advocate for social changes that affect them. Furthermore, they gain a better understanding of mobile and web-based technologies and how to use them to effect change. This cadre of young citizen reporters will assist the Belizean media and UNICEF in reporting fairly, honestly and accurately on issues relating to children and youth.
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