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An Experiment in Youth Work, Experience and Web 2.0


Part 1

Promoting activism and the Sharing of the Gimi Website.

In October last year I was approached by Charlotte Simpson or more friendlily, “Charlie”) of to see how we could work together to engage young people in the promotion of the Gimi website, a website for 13 – 19 year olds living in North Yorkshire. The site is is a repository for information about things to do throughout North Yorkshire, from sport to music, arts activities, outward bound experiences, gigs, workshops, festivals etc… Essentially, it’s a website for young people to find out about stuff to do in the area. There are details about upcoming activities and events for young people, plus advice, news and there’s the opportunity for young people to have their say.


Our key team for the project are:

Charlotte Simpson – Gimi Co-ordinator and enthusiast.
Ross Anderson – video & stop animation genius.
James Koppert – MC’ing, general Hip-Hopness and inspirational optimist.
… and I’m involved in all the sessions helping the young peeps upload stuff, tag the Gimi facebook page in their posts and generally create content.

Here’s a video of a robetic interpretation/personification (Robotification?) of Charlotte/the Gimi website combined: Gimi the Robot (made by Ross).

Our Goals

From initial discussions with Charlie, we felt that a great way to involve young people and to engage them in talking about and sharing links to the site, was to get help them create Things, Stuff… essentially to make a piece of art. The purpose of this is threefold:

  1. Make Art Have Fun – We believe that making art is good for people. It’s good to learn new skills. It’s good for self esteem. It’s a form of expression and by making something good, we make something that lasts that we can remain proud of.
  2. What better reason to share a website than “I’m on it” – There’s plenty of examples of this around the web with photographs/videos and tagging (tilllate.comfacebook, vimeo) and rather than just images, if we create Stuff then that is shareable beyond the friendship groups of the participants. Plus, if we can get people talking about these things, they become social objects in their own right.
  3. Through the sharing of the artefacts we made together, we can drive traffic to the website by showing (potentially new) people the great activities and art we’ve made and give them a flavour of the interesting things that the Gimi site has available on it.

We wanted to encourage the YP’s to “Like” the Gimi facebook page and start talking about it on their Facebook profiles (and with their friend in real life too!). We also want the young people involved to start interacting with the Gimi site and facebook page after the days’ activities. Furthermore, we want to use these activity days and the artefacts created as social objects and case studies; to engage adults and young people alike in the sharing of the gimi web assets (in addition to the website and facebook page there is also the Gimi twitter account)…

This is what we did…

Climbing The Wall

Session 1 – Carlton Lodge

The view from the wall

So, during the first session we held an outward bound day at Carlton Lodge. After the ice-breakers, the morning started with a session on the indoor climbing wall (actually it started with me slipping on the ice outside Carlton Lodge, but it was mainly my pride that got hurt), followed by archery training, and a little bit of competitive (but Safe) archery gaming. All the while, Ross was helping our team capture video of the activities to compile later for the website. I took some snaps on the old iPhone and created Gimi Flickr Set.

After lunch, we broke off into groups and in rotation, made video interviews, compiled the video footage Ross had shot in the morning and started to help the young people link to the Gimi website, like and link to the Gimi facebook page (via the young people’s Facebook profiles) and to tag and share videos, whatever pictures we had from the day and my audioboo.

To Be Continued…

This was the first session of two within striking distance of Northallerton/Skipton, the second one focussing on Animation skills with a further session in Scarborough to make and release a song in a day. We’ll be blogging about the next two sessions shortly, but first and foremost, here’s the first video featuring and made by the young people who joined us on the day itself and edited by Ross.

So far, via the Facebook page and the youtube channel itself, the video has had over 270 impressions. Not bad for a start really, especially given that this post is the first blog to feature the video in question (the rest of the sharing being primarily via Facebook).

… Requires Continued Involvement

Another challenge for Gimi is to engage the people working for and on behalf of North Yorkshire County Council; to have them submit and publicise events through the site, to promote it actively to the young people they are working with and further spread the good things that Gimi can offer. It’s a cycle really, contributors must submit content for the site in order for the site to be useful to young people, they must also encourage young people to use the site to develop a community and for the site to self perpetuate. This a common and traditionally difficult challenge for county councils and other public bodies; to find their voice safely in an online world.

With this in mind, I’m meeting a steering group at NYCC tomorrow to talk about the benefits of this kind of approach. I’ll let you know how it goes.

To this end, if you have an interest in this post, whether it’s an  interest in youth work, in the idea of experiences, or in the functions and possibilities available thorough Web 2.0 then please do comment below… even if you just think we’re doing good work then please do offer your thoughts, and share this post on twitter, facebook, through word of mouth and tattoo it to your arm.

Thanks in advance.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 27/03/2011 10:45 pm

    Interesting read Rich!
    Great video too!

    I’ve only just looked at the Gimi website (I’m far too late, I know!) But it’s fantastic and very engaging! I think the good thing about the Gimi website is that… there is something for everyone. Even if it is aimed at the younger generation, it still talks about everything from “Youth clubs – Alcohol – Smoking” and much more.

    Definitely a site to add to your favorites ;)


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