Advocacy is not something that one necessarily makes a conscious decision to go into. For me, it was a natural thing to do since I was a young woman – although I never thought of myself as an “advocate.” However, every chance I got I found myself talking about the evils of the apartheid system in South Africa or the dangers of a nuclear bomb (to whomever would listen). Yes, I grew up in the Cold War era. The apartheid issue has thankfully gone away, but the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament is still around.
Then, along came social media (and that includes blogs, of course). This is what I will be talking about this coming Sunday, January 28 at the University of Technology (Lecture Theatre 10) at 237 Hope Road, Kingston 6.
This will be part of a longer session for students, youth leaders, advocates and young people from near and far, starting at 10:00 a.m. and ending at 3:00 p.m. It is called Advocacy 101: The Fundamentals. The incredibly smart and energetic Krystal Tomlinson will also be a guest speaker, and I am looking forward to hearing what she has to say. She is a young motivator par excellence (and she always wears really cool clothes, which I love). I will be speaking at around 1:00 p.m. Register at this link.
I must say something about the organisers, a youth volunteer non-profit called the Positive Organisation. It describes itself on its Facebook page as “A group of energetic individuals who is working together, to bring about a positive change with our positive vibes. Volunteering in what ever way we can to help those in need.”
Several years ago I met the founder, Neville Charlton and his colleague Moya Swearing, at a blog event in Kingston. I was impressed by Neville’s air of determination, and his focus. Since then, I have seen his organisation grow from what was initially a small core group of young volunteers, who just turned up wherever they feel they can be of assistance – including some sessions with JN Foundation volunteers. Neville has stuck to it, has grabbed the opportunity for support wherever he can, and steadily built up his “thumbs up” organisation into a vibrant force – not only for support and philanthropic events, but also into a force for change. This, I believe, has great potential. In fact, I interviewed Neville and a colleague, Samantha Miller for Global Voices in November, 2016.
The road of civic activism is one for the long haul. I believe Neville’s (and the Positive Organisation’s) journey is only just beginning; but I am impressed that the organisation has decided to venture into the realms of advocacy. It’s all about “empowering” the youth – my apologies for using a rather overworked word – but advocacy is not just about words. It’s about words leading to action.
Do join us on SUNDAY at UTech.