Published: 16th November 2018
How YLAC is helping teens to voice out their issues through their Counter Speech fellowship programme
Delhi-based Social Enterprise YLA has partnered with Instagram to use it as a medium for teens to creatively express current issues through true and personal stories to influence change
With a view of helping youngsters address important issues, Young Leaders for Active Citizenship (YLAC), a Delhi-based social enterprise started a fellowship programme called Counter Speech Fellowship that is built around three pillars - awareness, support and advocacy. Riding the ever-popular social media wave, the fellowship programme has made partnership with Instagram and uses it as a medium for students to start meaningful conversations on set themes, creatively. "When we introduced this fellowship programme, we were a bit sceptical about how parents would react to this as it encourages the use of social media. Fortunately, we have been receiving excellent response from students and parents as well. They feel that such programmes provide a platform for students to speak on issues like bullying, mental well-being, gender equality and much more," says Aparajita Bharati, Co-Founder of YLAC.
Voice out: Teens at the fellowship programme involved in group discussion
While the programme was first introduced in 2017 in Delhi and Mumbai schools, this year, they have introduced it in Bengaluru and Kolkata schools too. And the co-founders plan to expand the programme to two more cities by 2019. But why do this on social media? Aparajita feels that many students are active and super creative when it comes to social media and it is this factor that lead to their presence on Instagram. "Students not only post photos or pictures of their paintings on Instagram to start conversations on themes like mental well-being or bullying, during the last 12 months of fellowship, we observed that students have expressed themselves even through poetry, stories, videos and, if you can believe it, rap music too!" says Aparajita, explaining that the themes of this year's fellowship are bullying, diversity, mental well-being, body positivity, gender equality and sustainability.
YLAC also conducts workshops on photography and caricature drawing for the students. Meanwhile, Instagram gives Ad Credit to the students so that they can promote their content around the world.
Aside from advocating for these social issues through posts, every fortnight, students meet with their mentors who guide and motivate them. Last year, students got to meet personalities like Poonam Mahajan, Member of Parliament and famous YouTubers like Prajakta Koli and Sejal Kumar to understand what kind of content goes into making great videos. Last week, students interacted with rapper and activist Sofia Ashraf who is best known for going up against corporations for negligence. Through this, they got to learn how rap music can be used to protest and the changes it can bring.