We are extremely happy to announce that the wonderful KA students who participated in our Digital Journalism Project have received the new Wantage ‘Award for Community Service’.
It’s a great opportunity to explain what the Digital Journalism Programme achieved in 2016. We have advertised this very new idea for the first time about a year ago and they all showed curiosity and great level of courage to spend time and effort on learning during our four theory sessions – which we know can be hard during busy term times. In just four hours they had to learn from Sylwia Korsak all the basics of social media, building online CV and portfolio and documenting events in real time. With this new theoretical knowledge and a huge deal of their own skills and aspirations (in writing, editing and photography) students went off to document Wantage Summer Festival events. In the two weeks of their actual internship students spent time with Dr Linda Baines studying the best practices of online research, information management, online copyrights, reviewing Wantage Summer Festival website and branding too. Back with Sylwia Korsak they have learned to create their visual CV, prepare effective social media messages and learn to aggregate and collate all the content from their work in the field into a good online story of the Festival. They have also spent time at the Vale and Downland Museum learning about its operations, role in the community, role as our central location for the Festival but also supporting the Museum marketing activities. Their feedback was extremely useful both for the Museum and for us and we will take it really seriously in our planning in 2017.
Why we did it? Well, for two reasons. On one hand we really wanted to respond to one of the main points from the 2016 community feedback on past Festivals: lack of youth engagement. By educating young people and giving them equal voice, actually allowing them to BECOME the voice of the Festival we hoped to engage more young participants, inspire youth but also inspire other local Festivals and event organisers to do the same. During our meeting with the Town Council to discuss the details of the ‘Award for Community Service’ we have been asked if other Festivals could replicate the idea and our answer was really clear: ‘We hope they would do so!’ We do hope everyone will understand the amazing potential of young people’s skills, motivations and voice in the community. And so we are really happy to see the Wantage (Not) Just Betjeman Festival starting their school engagement programme this year and we can only hope to see more and more similar ideas.
Secondly we did it for the young people. One of the major criticism we have received in the year of organising of the Festival (but also something our Committee members experienced themselves and observed in our community) is that the volunteers in the community are very often appreciated but sometimes taken for granted and on very rare occasions disrespected. We do not think volunteering should be taken for granted so we are promoting a culture of saying a huge thanks but also providing at least not tangible rewards for all the work that is done for us. We really wanted to ensure that our Young Journalists benefit from their involvement as much as we do from their support. And so we have equipped them with life skills that they themselves found invaluable. We have provided them with references that might just inspire them to persevere in their passions and turn those into actual professions. We hope that our references will help them open the doors to their first jobs. For that very reason we have invited Pete Hughes from the Wantage and Grove Herald for the final day of our programme and we were very pleased (we did not plan it, we promise) that he expressed his full support to help each and every one of them in the future as much as possible.
We hope that with the help of the wonderful individuals and organisations involved we have given the young people all they need to understand the value of their potential. And so we welcome the Town Council Award as a huge acknowledgement of those Festival goals and of students personal perseverance.
On behalf of the Wantage Summer Festival we would like to congratulate the recipients of the Award for their courage to take part in the Festival’s Digital Journalism project and thank them for their dedication, effort and brilliant results. We would also like to thank the KA Academy, Vale & Downland Museum, Pete Hughes, Wantage Youth Council and Wantage Town Council for their support of this innovative idea which will hopefully help those young people shape their future in online journalism. We would also like to thank all our Festival organisers who supported our students in their work in the field.
Do make a note of their names: Bryony Gooch, Chloe Aston, Mia Collins, Natasha Doxey, Yasmine Felder, Taylor Brittain and Boris Buklanov as we are sure we will here more from them and about them in the future!
(featured image by one of our Digital Journalists, go to our Facebook fan page to see all their social media visuals)