WESSA has launched a powerful new education programme that is aimed at enabling in and out-of-school youth from 11-25 years to take a stand on local social and environmental issues and risks through the media of writing, photography or video.
Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) is a youth-led environmental journalism initiative that creates a productive space for our youth to reimagine and craft a sustainable socially and environmentally just future while developing skills to make a positive contribution to redress environmental injustices by highlighting issues through reporting.
The programme was launched on Tuesday at the Sci Bona Sci Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown, Johannesburg, where an enthusiastic group of youth from five schools listened eagerly to hands-on presentations by experts in the fields of writing, photography and videography. A writing workshop was led by The Daily Vox, an online newsletter, and the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism. This workshop focused on the skills of interviewing different stakeholders and responsible journalism. A photography workshop facilitated by photographers from “I Was Shot in Joburg” and lecturers from the “Market Photo Workshop” captured the essence of the saying, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. MindAd Media Thumbs Up, Bertus Louw from 50/50 and local videographer Monde Nyovane introduced the youth to the trade of videography and the undiscovered gems their cell phones hold when it comes to taking videos and editing. These three workshops gave the youth a deeper understanding about the respective trades to start their journeys as young reporters in their own communities.
Youth participating on the YRE programme will use a 4-Step methodological process to guide their local campaigns and enhance their skills in critical thinking, research and problem-solving. The programme uses the Sustainable Development Goals as International annual themes for young reporters to adopt and explore. Youth will be mentored by experts from various fields giving them an opportunity to learn from and explore different careers such as environmental law research, videography, investigative journalism, social justice and politics. The programme also provides an opportunity for participants to represent South Africa in the international YRE competition held annually.
Says YRE Programme Manager Cindy-Lee Cloete, “YRE is a creative, participatory, multidisciplinary, nurturing, action and solution-oriented, and fun space for young like-minded individuals and groups that has the potential to develop leaders of change in South Africa.”
YRE is the second new, international programme WESSA has introduced in South Africa this year: earlier this month the organisation launched the LEAF (Learning about Forests) programme which aims to deepen the understanding of the relationship between people and nature, by increasing knowledge about the key role forests play in enabling sustainable life on our planet (view full LEAF release here).
Ziphezinhle Langa, a passionate young reporter from Jiyana Secondary School in Tembisa, Johannesburg, explains what the YRE programme means to him, in a cell phone-shot video taken by a peer.
WESSA implements effective environmental, ecotourism, education and youth development programmes throughout South Africa. The organisation improves the school curriculum through education for sustainable development and provide critical work skills training, which creates job opportunities and sustainable livelihoods in local communities. WESSA’s environmental initiatives contribute towards the restoration of ecosystems, while their Blue Flag and Green Coast ecolabels support tourism growth and development by encouraging responsible tourism practices and the improved management of our coastline. For more information visit www.wessa.org.za
About WESSA’s schools programme:
WESSA is a national leader in environmental education, investing in youth and facilitating transformation in schools through innovative programmes that offer project-based learning. Through their work with learners and teachers throughout South Africa, the organisation is supporting school curricula with regard to environmental learning, equipping children to live sustainably in the future. WESSA’s education programmes are aligned to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) is a programme of the international Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) based in Denmark. The programme is implemented in South Africa by WESSA.
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