Seeing the Invisible – Using participatory media and art-based methods to engage end empower young people

Pirita Juppi, Turku University of Applied Science

In the era of social media and new digital media tools, it is easy for active, extroverted and tech-savvy youth to have their voices heard. However, not all young people find it easy to adopt new digital tools or feel comfortable bringing out their views and sharing their lives in diverse social networking and content-sharing sites. Even among the generation of “digital natives”, there are gaps in digital skills and in readiness for communication, interaction, creative self-expression and digital participation.

Facilitated workshops may provide means to reach those “invisible” young people, who do not participate in digital culture out of their own initiative. This presentation is based on the experiences in the project Näkymättömät – nuorten digitarinat (in English The Invisible – Digital Stories of Young People). During the three-year project cycle (2015–2018), we have experimented on using Digital Storytelling and other autobiographical art-based methods (rap, comic and creative writing workshops) to engage and empower young people who are either out of school and work, or at critical transition phases of education.

Creative workshop provide an opportunity for the participants to reflect on and represent different aspects of their identities, lived experiences, and goals and dreams for the future. Our workshop experiences have shown, that what matters most to the participants, is the experience of sharing, listening and being listened to within the safe space of the workshop. In many cases, the workshop process is more important to the participants than publishing their creative products online for wider audiences to see.