Young Christian Workers challenge youth stereotypes 22 November 2006

  Last weekend members of Impact, part of the Young Christian Workers (YCW), gathered at Oscott College near Birmingham to continue their National Campaign on the image of young people in the media. Eighty young people took part in the event on November 11th, representing hundreds of teenagers from London, the Midlands and the North West.

Since February Impact and YCW members have surveyed nearly a thousand young people and have discovered that they feel that the media is unfair to the youth and denies them a voice. Speaking at the event, Katie McHale, aged 15 and President of the Wealdstone Impact Group in North London said: "I think that we are betrayed as quite bad in the media. Any good that we do never seems to be shown."

During the day the young participants produced their own live News TV programme, now broadcasting online at, challenging the image of young people in the media. They researched, wrote, filmed and directed the entire show themselves, working alongside media professionals including Jason Farrell, a Correspondent for FIVE News. Speaking at the event Jason said: "I've done a lot of negative reports on young people, because in my job we give everyone a bad press. I'm going to put the young people in my shoes, I want to put together a news team, dealing with the same things that I have to deal with, producing an interesting, vibrant news programme, hopefully doing that in a positive way, portraying positive images of young people."

The participants produced news reports, panel discussions on youth violence and binge drinking, newspaper reviews and filmed a TV drama assisted by Martine Brown and Kerrie Farrell, previously of the Channel 4's Holly Oaks, cast.

Frances Hephrun, a young person from Burnley, Lancashire, presented one of the TV news reports. She said: "The YCW this year conducted a survey of how young people think they are represented in the media. A staggering 74% of national newspaper articles on young people were considered to be negative. The young people questioned considered there was a stereotype of young people within the national press that does not truly or fairly represent them."

The event was the first phase of the YCW,s national action on their campaign. Using their method of See, Judge and Act members have been enquiring into media and reflecting on the issues in light of the Gospel.

Danny Curtin, National President of the YCW said: "During the last year these young people have seen the reality of how unfair the media are to them and their friends. They have heard in the message of the Gospel that all young people have dignity and worth as children of God and deserve to be treated with respect. Today is only the beginning of young people speaking out, in light of their Christian faith, to make a real difference on behalf of all young people."

One young participant summed up the hope of the day: "I think we should try and change some of the attitudes towards the youth and try and get them a bit more fairly represented in the media."

The YCW will launch the public phase of their campaign in Spring, in partnership with other Christian youth organisations. The full results of their media survey will be published as they call for a fairer representation of young people in the media, giving young people their own voice.

To help with the campaign the YCW are asking for newspaper articles which present a negative image of young people to be sent to YCW HQ, St Joseph's, off St Joseph's Grove, Hendon, NW4 4TY.

Source: YCW

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