Swindon's youth finds voice in new online magazine

By Claire Dukes - 25 February 2019

College & Higher EducationEducationSocial EnterpriseCommunity

As part of an innovative social enterprise project, young people from Swindon are getting ready to make their voices heard as they prepare to launch a new online magazine focusing on social issues.

Next month a group of young creatives will be shouting about issues faced by young people through the launch of their very own online magazine #iDare.

Thanks to social enterprise The Platform Project, youngsters from Swindon will be able to speak freely about the social issues that matter most to them from bullying, body image, social media and music. The magazine will be launched 30 March. 

The Platform Project offers free courses for young people aged 13 to 20 ranging from filmmaking, journalism, textiles, print work and vlogging. For this particular project the group have been working on the first issue of their online magazine #iDare. Last week the group shared their experiences with a panel of professionals from Swindon Link, the Social Enterprise Network and the Swindon Advertiser.

Platform Project director Sadie Sharp said: "This has been our biggest ever challenge so far, with the group twice the normal size we have, and it was just as well because it was a very busy week!

"The team did everything from design the logo, set up the website and social media, produce content, work on a marketing plan, and plan the launch event. We were amazed at how everyone just got on as a team and worked to their strengths, with those that are better at things like IT helping out those that weren’t so experienced, and those who didn’t feel able enough to write content contribute by using their creative art skills to draw cartoons and images to compliment content that other members of the group were producing.

"Everything they did was so amazingly principled and substantive - without any suggestions at all the group very quickly decided that they wanted to use their voice to help other teens become the best version of themselves, with things like mental health and positive social action taking a strong emphasis in their planned content. They even came up with a list of banned topics like weight loss and 'fake' personal image promotions to avoid their young readers feeling body shamed or inadequate.

"They were very clear that the #iDare ethos is one that is real, inspiring and supportive, and I'm so incredibly proud of how they have 100% owned it - I'm super excited to see where they take it!"

The online magazine will be formed from written content, blogs, vlogs and podcasts which the group hopes will begin a positive dialogue about the issues facing young people today.

Chloe Butler, 19, has been working on her first podcast 'What's on The Box?' where she wants to talk openly about the TV programmes she has been watching. 

Chloe was diagnosed with autism when she was 16 and hopes that through #iDare she can promote positive messages to other young people with autism through her new podcast and blog 'Amazing Autism'.

During her time at school Chloe says she was "bullied" and "ridiculed", but through The Platform Project she has been able to develop her confidence and hopes that by sharing her experiences with autism and bullying she can encourage other people to start a positive dialogue around autism.

She said: "We want it [iDare publication] to give a good representation of all types of young people – no fat shaming, no body shaming and things like that.

"I remember before I was doing The Platform Project I was at home 24/7 – I didn’t really go out. Going into town was the only thing I would do on my own, and now I can walk down to the shop on my own, I can go to my brother’s on my own and I can pick up my nieces and nephews from school.

“The Platform Project has helped me in so many ways – I cannot express the amount of gratitude I have for this charity. With this I hope to get some perspective on other people’s lives. Even now I’ve seen so many different stories from homelessness to this group, to recoveries – I’ve met some amazing people and it’s been the greatest opportunity of my life.”

#iDare will officially launch 30 March which will see the young people present their project and discuss future details for the #iDare issues to come. Sadie added: “The launch will see the team present a range of content that is produced for their first edition, including a creative feature for Mothers day, where they will be sharing articles and videos about the people in their lives who have played the role of their mum, in advance of Mothers day on Sunday 31 March.

“We are hoping to invite a range of related youth development agencies, press, local officials and potential participants to help spread the word about the publication and what it stands for.”

Anyone interested in signing up to, or volunteeting for, The Platform Project can visit www.platformproject.co.uk

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