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Youth Media: 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 is underway 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 are providing this training 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. This training is 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 issues that affect them.

In addition the participants are learning about traditional journalism skills such as newswriting, performance and interviewing will be used among others. This training will prepare children and young people to report their own stories in their communities around the country using a variety of media platforms. The training is being conducted by lead instructor Holly Edgell and associate instructors Geraldine Cols Azócar, Christopher Saunders and Maral Usefi along with Aurelio Sho, Nyasha Laing, and Rhazi Kone.

This training will also provide for the creation of a highly interactive space where children and youth will discuss and report on the issues affecting their lives. Their communications skills and improved web and IT literacy skills will be sharpened. This national workshop will also increase their awareness of other cultures and perspectives as youth from all cultures and districts are represented.

The organizers hope the participants will acquire a greater understanding of how to advocate for social changes that affect them. They will also 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 in reporting fairly, honestly and accurately on issues relating to children and youth. Media will also be provided with diverse and creative stories from these young reporters. Finally, it is hoped that all media professionals, and the institutions for which they work, demonstrate their responsibility to recognise children’s rights to expression and reflect them in their work through stories from these young reporters.

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About UNICEF – UNICEF works in more than 155 countries and territories to help guarantee to children the rights to survive and develop from infancy to adolescence. UNICEF is the largest provider of vaccines in developing countries, works to improve health and nutrition from infancy, provide quality water supply and sanitation, basic quality education for all children, and protection of children against violence, exploitation, and HIV/AIDS. UNICEF is financed entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations, and governments.

About The UWI Open Campus – The newest UWI campus was formally launched in June 2008 and offers multi-mode teaching and learning services in over 40 physical site locations and virtual locations across 16 English-speaking Caribbean including Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago and the Turks & Caicos Islands.  The UWI Open Campus offers an open and flexible learning environment for pre-university, professional development, undergraduate and graduate courses and programmes in online, face-to-face and blended format.

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