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Exposure to digital industries key to engagement with London youth

The Tech City stars and entrepreneurs of the future are probably sitting on the bench you just walked past. You know, that group of hoodie-wearing youths.

Digital engagement

London youth get a bad press, even more so, youth from disadvantaged areas or backgrounds. It’s all disengaged, disrespectful headlines that seem to shape the majority of public opinion. So eyes often widen when I explain that, in my 20 years experience working with disadvantaged London youth, I’ve seen first hand the passion young Londoners have to learn the arts – and more specifically in recent years, digital and technical media.

Bringing the arts alive

Based on the Hackney Road right in the hub of Tech City, Eastside Educational Trust is an arts education charity working throughout London with 5-19 year olds. Our aim is to bring the arts alive for these young people otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to experience them.

Freedom of expression

In recent years one of our most successful tech projects has been in partnership with computer software company Adobe called ‘Adobe Youth Voices‘.

The aim of the project is to engage these young people by encouraging their creativity and training them to create powerful digital media on a subject they feel passionately about.

Break down the classroom walls

The end results are astounding with the young people making incredibly powerful films, music videos, animations and documentaries on a range of hard hitting topics including homophobic bullying, domestic violence and cultural identity – to name a few.

We merely provide the tools, the rest is up to their hard work and tenacity to create something that can, as one teacher told me, “break down the walls of the classroom” and engage those pupils who otherwise sit silently at the back.

 Practical Apps

By working in the Tech City landscape you’ll know that tech training doesn’t just provide practical skills, it also about working together, using your imagination, networking and hitting deadlines.

The more exposure we can give young Londoners to the digital capital booming on their doorstep, the more we can engage them. Working with professionals like you from the industry is a world away from stuffy IT lessons.

Seeing Tech in action in the ‘real world’ and sharing skills is what makes youth come alive. It’s no wonder that many youth see a potential career path open up to them as a result of our tech and digital art projects.

Turning it around

I’ve seen youth gaining hugely competitive university places in animation, when previously they were ready to drop out of education altogether because they didn’t see the relevance.

So look twice at that group of youth next time–you might be lucky enough to have them knocking on your company’s door.

Rakhee Jasani is the Director of Eastside Educational Trust, an award-winning arts education charity working with disadvantaged youth across London to engage them through a wide range of art projects. This year marks the charity’s 20th Anniversary.