Looking towards the near future when the revised National Youth Policy (NYP) would be endorsed, it is clear that the next step would be Advocacy. Therefore, in order to build on the learnings of the winter revision of the NYP as well as equip YI members with basic skills in advocacy so that they may become effective advocates of the NYP, the summer training was conducted on ‘Social Media Advocacy Campaign’. Initially BCMD had planned to host the training in-person with the COVID protocol in place but following lockdown and increased restriction on public gatherings, the summer camp went virtual for the first time in the history of YI. To work around the YI members’ schedule (most of whom are college students) the training was hosted over a period of five Sundays.      

As it had been almost half a year since their winter engagement, YI members were re-oriented towards what they had achieved thus far in review of the National Youth Policy (NYP). Sangay D. Gyanzo said that it was “overwhelming to see our efforts materialize and that through the Focus Group Discussions, they learned so much”. The members then, revisited their winter recommendations and identified issues so that they could pick one issue to take forward and develop it into an advocacy campaign. In the days following, the members were guided through an exercise to help them draw a clear link between their proposed approach towards advocacy and their problem, with asset-based stakeholder mapping. Finally a framework for the ‘content calendar’ was introduced to help them plan out their content (messages, pictures, posters, videos, etc.) along with clearly stating who their targeted stakeholder(s) is/are and how the content helps them achieve their advocacy goals.  

We invited Creative Donkey Media (a company specialized in branding, social media management, audio-visual production and design) was invited to lead sessions on leveraging social media to advocate for social issues as well as the various tools, strategies and approaches that are industry-tested.  Members were also trained on Social Media Analytics in order to document their performance in a tangible and measurable way. Special attention was paid to linking up the metric that they were using with the objective(s) of their advocacy. Based on this learning and reflections, they then adjusted the content calendar for the following week so that their advocacy pages could perform even better. The members also set relatively more ambitious goals to reach for the following week. 

On the last day, the double-edged nature of social media was explored along with consolidating their learnings, realizations and documentation of their advocacy campaign journey thus far. Only one task remained: preparing their final presentations to deliver to the relevant stakeholders working in the areas of youth development and growth!

Within a month of campaign launches, the members were collectively able to receive a total of 3,000 ‘likes’ on their pages and an estimated 85,000 total ‘views’ on their video content posted within a month. During the interactive session, the YI members received feedback from those in the audience to think about ways to reach youth who are not on social media and to think about the sustainability of their pilot campaigns. The learnings and skills from running virtual social media campaigns will prepare them to become advocates for the NYP when it eventually gets passed. This is what the Chief Guest, Speaker of the National Assembly had to say, "Quite often, when we ask ourselves this important question of how our future will be, there are some who believe that the road ahead will be bright; others are doubtful of the future as they look around and are unsure of what their lives have amounted to… However, listening to the presentations today, I personally find the road ahead to be optimistic and significant”

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