In partnership with Microsoft, UK Youth is supporting 30 youth clubs to become IT Youth Hubs. Each Hub is receiving a technology makeover, with support from Microsoft. Young 'IT Champions' from each Hub will lead a peer education programme, leading to improved IT knowledge and access.
The first step
As the first major step in the project, a total of 90 ‘IT Champions’ and 30 youth workers took part in training sessions held in Edinburgh, Manchester, York, Birmingham, Exeter and London. The training covered three main themes:
- Peer education: the morning session was devoted to supporting the ‘Champions’ in ‘spreading the word’ to their peers. The session included tips on engaging with their peers, plus important guidance on boundaries.
- The future of IT: an inspirational input from Microsoft. To begin the discussion, a film (see below) showed some of the ways technology could change lives in a future of ‘invisible technology’!
- Resources: most of the afternoon focused on the digital literacy toolkit UK Youth has developed for the Hubs to use. It is full of information and activities the peer educators can use ‘back home’. Everyone got the chance to try out activities. The session also covered the essentials of online safety.
“I thought the days worked well, as a way of preparing people for the work back home,” says Gary Brunskill, UK Youth’s National Projects Officer, who took part in all of the sessions. “On top of that, I felt everyone really valued the opportunity to get together. They feel part of something now and that’s a great motivator – and they know now that they can use each other for support as the project progresses.”
Fully briefed, the ‘IT Champions’ are back home planning for the future. Their first task will be to work with UK Youth and Microsoft to upgrade the clubs IT equipment. There is no ‘set package’, as every Hub is different – some have particular interests they want to develop, such as web design or improving computer access for deaf young people, while others are looking at how to integrate IT into their youth work practice.
The youth workers will be vital in ensuring the success of the project. Some are already knowledgeable in IT and have a ‘hands-on’ involvement, while for several of the projects, the young people are the IT experts and are taking the lead in deciding the equipment they need and the direction they want to go.
The next major staging post will be in August, when the IT Champions will be running workshops for other young people from across the country, where they will be sharing what they have learned along the way.
In the meantime, we will be posting updates on what the Hubs are up to.