Some of the participants of the media training workshop. (Michael D. Cadogan)

Over a period of four and a half days, 19 students from 18 schools across Barbados brought some of the issues that affect them, including the rights of the child to light, through animation, public service announcements and drama.

The participants, who took part in the Adolescent Media Training Workshop, held at UN House last week, learnt video production, scriptwriting for video and audio, editing, using the internet to download relevant information, directing and how to create interactive learning tools using cartoon software. ????It began on Tuesday, April 10 and wrapped up on Saturday, April 14.

The initiative, which has already been employed in Dominica and St. Kitts and Nevis, targets young people who are members of their school’s student councils or who have demonstrated leadership qualities.?? The training was sponsored by the United Nations Children’s Fund, in association with the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development.

While delivering the feature address at the closing ceremony, Education Minister Ronald Jones, applauded the 13 to 18 year-olds for giving up part of their Easter vacation, but assured them it would redound to their personal development.?? He noted that Government would do its part, but they also had a role to play.

"The Government of Barbados is committed to meeting its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.?? Article 13 of the UN CRC recognises?? ???The right of the child to seek and impart information and ideas of all kinds, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice once they do not harm or offend other people.’?? And that last part is important, particularly in an age where technology blossoms everywhere you turn…The speed at which you can connect one to another is absolutely phenomenal and it means that we are dealing with young people who are different, not because of their genetic structures but because of the presence of technology in the environment," he observed.??

He urged them to share their thoughts, ideas, views, concerns and aspirations using the technology and techniques they learnt since society needed their direct input.???? "Therefore, you have a responsibility through this programme to use the skills which you gained to reach your peers, your teachers, people in your community and the policy makers so that you can become engaged… Given the ever-rising levels of expenditure in education, there is urgency for more cost effective tools and techniques that will re-engage students and re-energise learning throughout the region and in Barbados," the Minister remarked.

Mr. Jones noted that with some 315,000 cell phones in use locally in a population of approximately 280,000, with 87,000 Barbadians signed up to Facebook and Internet connectivity locally listed as 68 per cent and growing, there was an urgent need to use new technology to spread positive messages.

According to one of the facilitators of the training, Media Communications Specialist, Julius Gittens, it was important for young people to be able to use video and social media tools including YouTube and Facebook to express themselves.??

"What you saw is young people being seen and heard.?? Their ideas, their concerns, their issues and they want your attention… After working with these 19 students from all across the school system on the basis of four-and-a-half days, I am absolutely filled with hope for this society, for the future and this country.?? And this is merely the tip of the iceberg… They are the media now.?? They have the tools and they have been taught how to use them responsibly.?? They have done the shooting, the sound, the writing and the production and they have learnt how not to fall into the trap of stereotypes, disrespect and dishonour," he explained.

The training was divided into two segments.?? The print media format where the youth learnt how to write and edit for newspapers, and how to use the Internet and broadcast media, including animation; operating a video camera, video and sound editing, filming and other technical skills.?? At the end of the workshop, Ministry officials and parents saw the fruits of the students’ labour – a three minute dramatic presentation on date rape/ sexual abuse, dubbed Tampered; a public service announcement on the need for parental involvement called Me and You; and, Second Chance – an animated short on positive behaviour.?? They were all well received.??

As a result of the training, fifth form student of the Alexandra School, Sade Farrell, emphasised that she could no longer be teased by some of her friends.?? "Overall, it was a fantastic experience.?? My friends usually call me computer illiterate, so I learnt a lot.?? Though I knew some of my rights, now I have added to my information and I will definitely be helping my friends at school and telling them about the work that we have to do as young people," she said.

A film shoot gets underway during the??workshop. (Faith Motion Video)??

Jade Brown, a third former at the Parkinson Memorial School, was desirous of spreading anti-bullying messages and explained that now he could craft messages that would hopefully make a difference.??

Third formers, Theo Greenidge of the Garrison Secondary School and Daana Roach of Queen’s College not only gained technical knowledge at the workshop, but also learnt critical communication and team-building skills.??

"I enjoyed working with children my age and we were all united for one common goal – to get more information to make us strong leaders of tomorrow.?? I want to use this information to educate the world, but mostly children, about our rights because many children do not know what their rights are.?? In fact, some hardly even know we have rights… I knew about rights but I did not know about my responsibilities.?? I have the right to express myself but I also have the responsibility to not do so in a disrespectful manner or in a way to hurt anyone’s feelings," he pointed out.??

Daana added:?? "It helped with leadership skills too, because someone had to take charge and we had to learn to listen to different ideas.?? We realised what it really means to be part of a team…I think we can definitely use the media because although people always put information on the internet about how important it is not to sexually abuse someone or to not kidnap children, the message does not always make an impact.?? But these messages we have created are from the children’s point of view, so more children will listen if they’re coming from us."

The pieces will shortly be made available for viewing on the UNICEF Facebook page.??


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