Using mapping, participatory video, visual arts, and performing arts as a means of investigation and expression, youth, aged 12-18, work in small teams to identify resources and challenges in their communities, understand more about causes and effects of key issues impacting on youth, and learn about different viewpoints held by community members and community leaders around those issues. They then produce arts and media about the issues and develop an action plan to raise awareness and community support to begin resolving the issues. By developing youths’ communication and leadership skills, coupled with technology education and practice with information and communication technologies (ICTs), YETAM seeks to open new possibilities for youth so that they are more able to engage using 21st century skills. The importance of ownership and commitment to local development is emphasised, and the methodology is designed to form capable and positive community leadership for the future.
The arts and media are also used as a starting point to raise issues and youth viewpoints with district and national leaders and the public, and to advocate for change. At the same time, the youths’ materials are posted on the web so that the public can learn more about issues and get involved. Rather than hearing about youths' viewpoints via foreign and/or adult journalists, the YETAM project allows youth to claim their own place and directly debate and discuss the issues they care about. Curricula based on the youth’s key issues and video/arts materials are developed and used to engage additional groups in the 6 African focus countries, and an on-line curriculum for the "Global North" allows youth not living in Africa to better understand the issues and learn how to get involved. The web allows cross-country and global interaction among youth, building confidence and motivating them to continue moving forward.
In each country, the YETAM programme involves youth, teachers, local media, and arts organisations in a 1-week training of trainers, followed by a 2-week training programme with secondary school youth. A local follow-up plan is created by the youth, teachers, and local partners for organisation and continued advocacy by the youth, refresher training, and additional arts and media work around the identified issues.
Some 350 youth (according to the 2008 annual report) participated in direct skills training workshops on arts and media, including new media tools, such as mobile phone technology and applications, internet, search engines, social media, 'Flip' cameras, mobile internet, and mobile video production and editing.
According to YETAM, collectively the youth have produced around 100 short videos, 100 art works, several theatre pieces, hundreds of photographs about their lives, newspapers, and community murals on themes pertinent to them. Sixty staff, teachers, and partner organisations have been trained on child rights, child participatory facilitation methodologies, arts and media as tools for development and advocacy, and social media/new technology. About 1500 community members in 25 communities have attended events and discussions related to these materials.
Click here to view these materials on YouTube. (To turn on the captions option to see subtitles, click on the triangle at the bottom right corner of the video player. A red ‘cc’ button will appear. Click on the small triangle to the left to select language options). Some of the materials are also available on the Plan Virtual Villages website. The current redesign of the YETAM website will additionally provide a space for school-school communication and joint projects and learning across Africa and between African countries and the "Global North".