In a nutshell
#EKSÊ! My Voice, My Safety aims to explore the potential of new and traditional media in enabling young people to engage in political processes. The initiative empowers young people to positively influence their vision of life and further their career paths. It furthermore activates the youth’s motivation and expands their skills to be agents of change for safer communities.
What we do
Young people are the future of a country. However, young people can also turn into a volatile group, when engaging in risky behaviour or being drawn into violent or criminal activities.
In South Africa, violence by young people has become a major concern. If young people are not given the chance to grow up with a vision for a positive future, the prospect of productive work and an income, or to take a positive role within their communities, there is an increased risk that they are driven into a cycle of violence and criminality.
In the Gauteng Province, a unique model has been developed over the last 15 years to specifically mobilise and involve young people in violence and crime prevention: the Youth Crime Prevention Desks (YCPD).
#EKSÊ! My Voice, My Safety was a pilot initiative implemented to strengthen the effectiveness of YCPD structures by utilising the interest of young people in information and communication technology (ICT) and social media to promote the work of the YCPD, generate dialogue between the youth and government and develop their skills in using new technology.
The innovative use of social media platforms and a broadened access to information through ICT (e.g. smart phones) showed great potential to enhance the participation of the youth in democratic processes. It also developed their skills and built strong, resilient citizens, who are enabled to engage meaningfully in society and compete successfully on the job market.
#EKSE! is a joint initiative supported by the Gauteng Department of Community Safety, the South African Police Service, Youth Crime Prevention Desks, Community Policing Forums and the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
How we do it
In 2012, the Gauteng Department of Community Safety and GIZ’s Violence and Crime Prevention Programme conducted a study to find out if the Youth Crime Prevention Desks were working towards the benefit of the communities. They found out that it was a solid and useful structure, but was also facing challenges.
Although the Youth Crime Prevention Desks were effective at creating safer spaces, they found communicating with young people, other Youth Desk structures and local authorities a challenge. Hence the New Media project was launched and was named #EKSE! My Voice, My Safety! at the first workshop.
From January to August 2014, the participants completed 3 module-based workshops facilitated by frayintermedia and Soul City Institute By using innovative methods and creative ways to learn about the strategic use of social media communication, content creation and media footprint, the participants felt more and more empowered to interact with their communities and even local authorities.
The participants were further given assignments in between the workshops, to carry out activities in their respective communities were participants have been sharing and exchanging their newly gained knowledge within their respective communities. For example, Katlehong cluster invited their community to a workshop at the police station in which they taught peers on how to use new and traditional media channels more strategically for their work in violence and crime prevention.
Although only selected Youth Desk members from Katlehong and Tembisa clusters within the Ekurhuleni Municipality could take part in this series of workshops, #EKSE! My Voice, My Safety has developed a comprehensive booklet that presents lessons learnt and step-by-step guides.
Following the end of the pilot intervention, the plan is to up-scale the intervention to include more youth desks.
What we have achieved
Over the period of 1 year, #EKSÊ! My Voice, My Safety
empowered youth desk members to effectively use social media to strengthen communication amongst themselves and with the wider local youth community
strengthened the representation and engagement of youth in local government safety policy-making and planning processes through the innovative use of social media
facilitated dialogue in which representatives of local government engage with youth desk members and young people in order to improve local crime and violence prevention policies/plans.
What we have learned
A review of the project’s steering committee and an external report indicated that the strong sense of ownership and successfully implemented multi-stakeholder approach contributed largely to the accomplishments of #EKSÊ! My Voice, My Safety.
Throughout the planning phase of the initiative, all stakeholders were on board and jointly prepared for the implementation of the pilot. Thoroughly conducted consultations with a wide range of actors secured high buy-in and consistency of participants throughout the project duration.
Youth-friendly, interactive and innovative tools and methods were used during the workshops coupled with participatory processes, such as the naming of the project. As a result, the youth began to identify themselves with #EKSÊ, embraced the project’s objectives and activities by participating with great motivation and enthusiasm.