Youth Voices Today

Youth Voices Today

Youth Voices Today is offered virtually & adheres to all virus-related protocols.
It can be easily adapted for other age groups as well.

Youth Voices Today is storytelling in the digital age. Participants use music, audio, and self-captured images, and other multimedia to tell compelling stories about vital personal, cultural, and community issues. 


STEAM-BASED IN DESIGN, YOUTH VOICES TODAY’S MISSION IS TO:

  • Enrich personal and cultural identity by engaging youth in evocative, issue-based story telling.
  • Build self-confidence and leadership skills by empowering youth to inform, inspire, and educate others about issues impacting their lives and their community. As they share their stories, they pave the way for new perspectives and begin to see and believe in greater possibilities.
  • Spark creativity and nurture self-expression by using a fun and innovative approach.
  • Cultivate critical thinking and communication skills by having participants engage in writing, researching, interviewing, public speaking, digital story crafting, and community engagement building.
  • Work with organizational leadership to provide story-sharing outlets to bring people together and stimulate conversation around issues of common concern.

 PROGRAM OUTCOMES:

Each Youth Voices Today program is unique because it is customized to meet the specific needs of the participants and their community. Here are a few possible outcomes:  

  • Audio public service announcements (PSAs) 
  • Multimedia stories focused on culture and identity 
  • Multimedia stories showcasing innovative approaches to issues facing a community
  • Visual stories with accompanying text describing the story as needed 

ADAPTING TO THE NEEDS OF TODAY:

Since Youth Voices Today uses a digital format, it is easily modified to meet the rapidly changing needs of organizations and communities.

During the pandemic, everything is done virtually, by phone, online, or by snail mail. Materials needed can be minimal. It can be as ‘old-school’ as pencil and a paper, or as ‘new-school’ as video apps and audio programs.

If participants don’t have access to a phone, they can write their stories and snail mail them.

The adaptability of the Youth Voices Today allows for multiple formats for participants to share stories that are important to them, including visual artwork. 

THE PROCESS:

  1. I meet via zoom or phone with you and your team. We will discuss your organizational/community needs and plan how to spotlight participants’ stories through a virtual portal (for example, a special page on your website) or other means of public sharing.
  2. I have an initial meeting with participants individually, or as a group. This can be done via phone, Snapchat, or messenger to connect in the most personal and easy manner.
  3. Directions and other materials will be sent online or via snail mail.
  4. I work with participants individually via phone, email, Zoom, Snapchat, messenger, etc. as they craft their story
  5. In each step, Youth Voices Today adapts. 
Antone Manning—Age 17. NDO Youth Council Chairman, Youth Voices Today student participant
This year Carolyn worked with Nakona Dakota Oyate youth to create PSAs about issues our communities are struggling with. The students, from all Fort Peck schools, were fully engaged in the process. One student wrote a poem. Another student created a soundtrack. My brother played flute for two of them. It felt honorable and good to have our stories told about us, by us. When the PSAs were finished, Carolyn got them played on the radio and a number of us were interviewed. I was also being interviewed on the radio. It helped me step up and be a leader to my peers by speaking about important issues like reducing suicide among youth and ways to support students whose parents are addicted to meth.

IMPORTANT THINGS TO NOTE:

  • Community engagement is crucial in these isolating times. Public outlets can include online portals like websites that showcase work, virtual community events, radio interviews, newspapers, and social media platforms.
  • All conversations with participants and adults are completely confidential. Participants have ownership of their work, and parents or guardians sign releases that give them the right to review any story before it is made public.
  •  To protect youth participants, I do not feature any of their work on my website. If you would like to see or hear examples, I can provide them to you directly.

Click here to find out how Youth Voices Today evolved. 

To find out more about how you can bring this dynamic, youth-driven program to your organization or school, email me, or give me a call.

Carrie Manning—Spotted Bull Resource Recovery Center Project Coordinator
Carolyn believes that our youth need to see themselves as our leaders of tomorrow and adults need to learn from their young wisdom about a time we are all struggling to navigate. From her first project to her last, the students were fully engaged and excited to be a part. Carolyn quickly built a strong sense of trust and encouraged the students to look deeply within themselves in an effort to build greater self-confidence and become stronger leaders for others. In Carolyn, youth saw a caring and supportive adult willing to listen and learn to help them create powerful stories that reflected their intimate lives, their challenges, their hopes, and their dreams. The stories were excellent.