Community Engagement on World Day of Social Justice

Developing the three-part MediaSmarts workshop series Creating Digital Content for Community Engagement changed my life. This might sound far-fetched, but I took the time to really explore what political and civic engagement looks like both on and offline, why every democratic society needs this, and how to create a powerful, effective and well-crafted media message that can help change the world for the betterment of everyone. I learned a lot about what it means to be “engaged” in our society, and how crucial this is for the success of all.

Community Engagement is a tricky concept, and one which may have little interest. Our Western society is based on the individual, with capitalist leanings and teachings. Why should we work together, when competition for the best job, the best future, and the biggest house on the block depends on the self?

The answer is simple: by working together, and looking out for each other, we will collectively evolve as a society to become stronger, smarter and more resilient than if we worked alone. This type of teamwork also fosters a greater understanding and empathy for the other through real-world experiential learning. 

I teach youth and educators how to create their own media projects, and in that capacity was asked to design a series of workshops and activities rooted in media and digital literacies. These lessons would inspire students to consider an aspect of their community which was of concern, and then to work in teams to brainstorm solutions. They would then create a Digital Story Project which would serve as an engaging and hands-on opportunity to explore the topic through photography and interviews, weaving their findings and message into final projects which could be shared through a multitude of approaches and platforms, both on and offline.

This year’s World Day of Social Justice is a perfect opportunity to remind our youth that locally to globally, politicians and communities care about their concerns and are listening.

Explore Digital Storytelling for Civic Engagement:

The three-part lesson series Digital Storytelling for Civic Engagement (Grades 9-12) is part of MediaSmarts’ USE, UNDERSTAND & CREATE: A Digital Literacy Framework for Canadian Schools and supports the key concepts of Community Engagement and Making and Remixing. You can learn more about the Framework here:

Jessie Curell, Director, Hands On Media Education

An experienced, passionate and committed Media Educator for the past 14 years, Jessie Curell has been teaching dynamic, production-based Media and Digital Literacy workshops for maximum impact across Canada, the U.S. and Asia with the National Film Board of Canada and a wide variety of schools, museums, non-profit organizations and film festivals. She is more committed than ever to engage with each of her communities for social change.

Hands On Media Education

Hands On Media provides customized production-based Media and Digital literacy workshops to educators, students and private organizations across Canada. Their workshops are designed to adapt to the topics and themes being covered in any classroom or workplace, while developing valuable and transferable skills. All workshops provide opportunities to reflect and discuss the rights and responsibilities of individuals engaging in the digital media environment by encouraging participants to reflect on their digital identities and roles as responsible digital citizens.