Launched in 2007, the Children's Radio Foundation (CRF) works with children and young people to use radio and other existing low-cost technologies to create media content by and for children. The aim is to give children a space to share their stories, voice their concerns, and share their triumphs and strategies for success.
CRF works to give young people tools and skills to make their voices heard. With over 40 youth radio projects across five African countries, this includes working with radio stations and youth organisations to create opportunities for youth dialogue, leadership, social engagement, and action. Through radio broadcasts, young people speak about their concerns and reach out to their peers and wider audiences about the issues they face.
CRF's approach includes the following key steps.
- Enlist community leaders: When setting up a youth radio project, CRF-certifedd facilitators first train adult members of the local community, teaching fundamental journalism skills, how to instruct and recruit youth participants, and how to create and grow a sustainable project. These facilitators then possess the skills to run their youth radio initiative, create new programming, and to train more youth reporters.
- Build trust: To begin a weeklong youth training workshop, CRF engages participants in a series of exercises and games to build trust within the group and encourage sharing of experiences. This challenges young people to think about issues in their community, discuss different points of view, and articulate their concerns.
- Teach consent and ethics: Responsible journalists must report honestly, accurately, and ethically, CRF ensures that the young journalists create the conditions for their own success.
- Develop reporting skills: CRF teaches youth journalists the essential techniques to produce a radio show, including the processes of interviewing, writing, and recording. They learn strategies for creating interesting, well informed, and youth-focused stories, and how to communicate them in a compelling way. The youth learn to take positions on issues and support them with research and facts.
- Create a corps of community youth journalists: The weeklong workshop culminates with students recording and producing a live radio show, which is broadcast on their local community station and made available on CRF's online audio sharing system. The youth journalists and their adult facilitators are then able to produce weekly shows with ongoing support.
Along with various workshops in schools and community centres, CRF is involved in the following key projects:
The Radio Workshop Show
The Radio Workshop, the Children's Radio Foundation's radio broadcast, airs nationwide in South Africa, and is available online and as a podcast on iTunes. The show offers younger listeners a mix of current affairs, entertainment, information, and showcases the stories of young people. Broadcasts have included a report about students trying to get a library in their school, audio profiles of a young refugee struggling to belong, a career profile of an architect, a doctor responding to listeners' health questions, and conversations with female athletes about dedication and motivation. All audio content is available for free to broadcast outlets around the world, and is downloadable from the CRF website.
Youth Radio Network
In January 2011, CRF launched their first Youth Radio Network in Tanzania. Working with UNICEF Tanzania and local partners (Save the Children, Plan International, and ZAPHA), CRF conducted training workshops in four locations and trained 60 youth journalists to produce radio programmes that air weekly on local stations. CRF is planning to launch three more Youth Radio Networks across the African continent in 2011 and more in 2012.
Working with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
Since 2009, the CRF has partnered with UNICEF on a series of initiatives. In South Africa, the CRF facilitated dialogues with youth on citizenship and social change, and produced a series of radio programmes for the anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. As part of UNICEF's climate change initiatives, the CRF trained over 200 young people from 44 countries as radio journalists at the Children's Climate Forum in Copenhagen and at UNICEF's Zambia Children's Climate Conference. In World Cup in My Village, the CRF partnered with UNICEF to provide youth media training and access to coverage of the FIFA World Cup 2010 for young people in Zambia and Rwanda.
The CRF uses radio and other technologies to connect young people across the world and to facilitate cross-cultural dialogues about pressing social issues. Pairing high school classrooms in different countries, CRF's audio pen pal programme allows young people to exchange audio letters and to participate in debates on a regular basis. The project is designed to encourage young people to see the world from a different perspective, foster a spirit of dialogue and debate, and teach communication skills.
In 2009, the Children's Radio Foundation launched a radio project at Cape Town's Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital, the largest pediatric hospital on the African continent. Using audio recorders and microphones, they trained a group of young patients to tell their stories for radio. Reports have included chronicling the long wait for a kidney transplant, interviewing a doctor about treatment for a severe burn, and diarising life with a chronic heart and lung condition. The audio reports document the questions and concerns of young people in a time of illness, and provide them with the opportunity to speak about their situations. Plans for the next stage of the project include setting up an in-house radio station at the hospital, and each patient will receive an MP3 player upon admission to the hospital so that they can receive the audio content on offer. Click here to listen to a selection of Hospital Radio audio diaries with visuals on Youtube.
Each year CRF also presents the Caroline Binger Child Advocacy and Educational Fellowship, a 3-week all expenses paid internship in Cape Town, South Africa at the Children’s Radio Foundation's headquarters. The selected student works under the close supervision of CRF's professional staff. The internship is designed around the specific skills and interests of the participant.
Children, Youth, Media
As reported in the 2011 Annual Report, CRF has:
- trained over 1000 youth reporters in 5 countries in Africa since 2009;
- established a nationwide Youth Radio Network in Tanzania, reaching an estimated 2.5 million listeners weekly;
- produced and broadcast over 200 episodes of the Radio Workshop; and
- Developed an online listenership of more than 20,000 via the website, iTunes, and SoundCloud.
Children's Radio Foundation, UNICEF
CCRF's website on September 10 2010 and an email with latest brochure and annual report sent by Maria Hengeveld on July 5 2012.