"Every youth has a story"
is the principle of Adobe Youth Voices Programme. Shilpa Sayura Foundation collaborating with Adobe Foundation and ThinkingITGlobal, Canada implemented Adobe Youth Voices (AYV) program in Sri Lanka to train 120 youth between age 12 to 18 at telecentres and schools to create youth media with a purpose. This process helped empowering of youth to engage in a social development dialogue using Information and Communication Technologies.
Shilpa Sayura through AYV provided youthwith exposure and training to 21st century creative media tools. Their creative works exhibited to a local and international audience. The training and and inspiration harnessed the creativity of youth to produce media to make their voices heard globally. The AYV program created diverse opportunities for youth to think critically and engage in meaningful media-making process based on their talents using cutting edge media tools.
AYV program started in Sri Lanka in June 2011. Two educators Niranjan Meegammana, an ICT4D specialist and Asela Jayalath, a telecentre manager from Monaragala were trained by TakingITGlobal, Canada. During August and November. The two educators trained over 120 youth in digital media production using software provided by Adobe Foundation and ppen source tools. One of the remarkable highlights of AYV program implemented in Sri Lanka was using of a mobile training unit by Shilpa Sayura, which helped reaching of youth at their own locations, class rooms as well as outdoors. The mobile training system comprised of 5 low powered netbooks, digital cameras, camcorders and Internet enabled network switch. This mobile network unit was even outdoors without direct power. This mobile Telecentre is an innovative application of ICT for taking education to the under served youth.
Lahugala Nenasala in Eastern province, Buttala Telecentre in uva province and in four schools in Kandy district took part in AYV pilot in Sri Lanka . The youth worked collaboratively to create digital media following a meaningful and purpose oriented creation processes. "Our idea was to lay a foundation for youth to develop through time and become master producers of creative media in future. Already some youth are thinking of becoming future media, music and film producers" said Niranjan Meegammana, Project Director of AYV, Sri Lanka.The program also conducted introductory sessions in deaf and blind school in Kandy deploying the youth trained by AYV as trainers. The youth who were benefited first, becoming trainers for other youth is another highlight as Niranjan says. "Youth teaching youth has enabled 21st century learning integrated with creativity, collaboration and communication enabled by ICTs and peer to peer leaning". One of the important social elements of AYV is collaborative approaches and the works produced by youth are attributed with Creative Commons licence to enable grater sharing of their works world wide. An ancient poem from Wessanthra folk drama sung by a youth from Kirivavula Junior School was used by a youth from Pushpadana Girls School in "mothers of the world" video producation. "The thre youth are yet to met, however their creatives mixed in said Niranjan. "We are looking at inter school collaborative productions and possibly regional and global collaborations are possible future. AYV will bring global youth together in producing creative works" Niranjan added.
Speaking to youth who participated in the AYV Sri Lanka program we found that they were able to break away from monotonous and highly pressured education to became more creative in using their talents with free thinking and enjoying the learning. AYV has helped them to express their voices and ideas to their peers, parents and teachers where positive changes in their have been resulted. "I am more relaxed now in my education as I have found my talents and know where to go, I want to be a film director" said Shakthi a student in Kandy. "AYV helped me to find that I am good with cartoons. Now I want to study art and ICT in my Advanced Level, Sithumi another youth said. Sathyangani is only 12 years of Age, but she is able to use a Nikon D40 professional camera. Prabahana is in Grade 7 and created digital stories with his own photography and music. "Youth learn very fast in informal environments. Working as group and using ICT they become their own masters. Freedom to create inspires them and help them to find own identities in a team. The group together explores their own perspectives of creative art. AYV model is enjoyable by both students and educators" said Anil Vithanage, a teacher inspired by AYV.
The creative works of students ranged from hand paintings, photo collage, photographs, digital stories, digital videos, posters, illustrations, music, poems. One creative was rap song calling youth to act on climatic change . Among many creative by youth 20 best creative works were selected by Adobe foundation for exhibiting to a global audience. It seems as a remarkable achievement by youth in Sri Lanka. "We found lots of hidden talents in youth. AYV unleashed their collaborative and creative powers. It's amazing to see what they are capable of producing" said Yamuna Ratnayake, President of Shilpa Sayura Foundation. Poornima Heshdhani from Pushpadana Girls Collage, Kandy has won two national competitions by creating a poster and video on nano technology using adobe software is one of the remarkable achievements of AVY, Sri Lanka. One of the touching stories is that Lahugala Telecentre youth who had no rain for 7 months in 2011, describing Shilpa Sayura conducted AYV program as a "rain fell in their dry lands".
Shilpa Sayura Foundation believes that creative media production is one of the most effective ways to prepare youth for 21st century learning as it induces expression, communication and collaboration to create awareness for solving pressing problems of the world. A lesson that can be learned in AYV is that ICTs, Global collaboration and creative media can help creating enabling environments to change lives of under served youth. Shilpa Sayura plans to implement a training the trainer program to produce Adobe Educators to reach more youth 2012.