How do you get students excited about learning? Remake Learning Days’ youth ambassadors share their insight
Each year, the Remake Learning Days festival connects hundreds of local families with hands-on learning opportunities that exist throughout their community — not just in schools but in all kinds of other places. And while this sprawling series of workshops and classes and demonstrations is organized by adults, the festival puts a focus on what’s called “youth voice.”
Rather than just invite kids of all ages to attend events, the festival organizers get teenagers involved from the very beginning. Ahead of this year’s festival, which took place in May, 15 youth ambassadors were invited to weigh in on the events that would take place. And through a partnership with SLB Radio, these teens were invited to produce their own audio and video commentary on events they might want to attend — and given training so they could build those skills.
After a bit of journalism training from the SLB team, they were equipped with reporters’ notebooks and invited to report on upcoming events, and then attend Remake Learning Days events and report honestly on what they found interesting and what they didn’t. They were told that their opinions are important and local educators are genuinely interested: What kinds of hands-on learning really appealed to them?
The group was given free rein to share their viewpoints in these videos and podcasts, and they rose to the challenge. Together they produced 26 audio and video stories, all showcased at SLB’s Neighborhood Voices website and on the festival website.
The group gathered recently via Zoom to celebrate and discuss their work.
“We just wanted to take some time to celebrate the work that you have done and the connections that you have made. We are really proud of you,” SLB Radio (tk) Chanessa Schuler told the group during their gathering. “We wanted you to be creative with what you produced. And you did just that.”
SLB’s production manager Chad Green echoed that praise. He also let the students know that beyond building their reporting, writing and audio/video skills, these teens were valued members of the Remake Learning Days team, and their connections — with each other and the educators they’ve worked with — will continue.
“You’re part of this larger network,” he told the group, and “you really play a large role in Remake Learning Days.”
The Youth Ambassadors program, now in its second year, was funded by a grant from American Eagle and produced in partnership with SLB.
It’s a perfect collaboration, given SLB’s long history of empowering Pittsburgh-region teens to tell their stories and capture the stories of those around them.
“SLB is an incredible partner,” said Yu-Ling Cheng, co-producer of the festival. “They create the space and provide the tools so that the Youth Ambassadors can not only be heard and seen, but also inspire us to create a meaningful and relevant festival.”