WCW’s Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab recently created a Youth Advisory Board (YAB) to inform the development of its virtual digital wellbeing workshops. These week-long workshops, held every summer free of cost to participants, provide opportunities for middle school girls to have conversations with guest speakers in STEM fields, explore their online identities through digital storytelling activities, and collaboratively design and imagine more positive social media communities.
Participants have reported that the workshops made them aware of ways to use social media in more productive, healthy, and inclusive ways. They also experienced significant increases in self-esteem and agency.
“Our previous attendees and co-facilitators have contributed such valuable input as we work to make each year’s workshop better than the last,” said WCW Senior Research Scientist Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., who leads the Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab and collaborates on the workshops with Wellesley College Assistant Professor of Computer Science Catherine Delcourt, Ph.D. “We wanted to create a more formalized way to gather feedback and build community among ‘alums’ who have become our informed experts in improving future iterations of the workshops.”
It's been great getting to know so many smart, creative, and passionate young people, and I'm excited for a new group of students to benefit from their hard work.
Thus, the Youth Advisory Board was born, with funding from a Technology and Adolescent Mental Wellness grant through the University of Wisconsin–Madison. It includes middle school, high school, and college-aged youth who are former workshop attendees or co-facilitators. Board members provide feedback on developments to the summer program and collaborate with researchers and other peers while engaging in personal development opportunities such as improving their graphic design skills, networking, and near-peer mentorship.
“So far, the YAB has reviewed potential lesson plans about social and emotional learning skills in the digital sphere and created recruitment materials for this year's workshop,” said Jules Weed, a Wellesley College senior who helped facilitate the 2021 workshop and is now youth chair of the Youth Advisory Board. “It's been great getting to know so many smart, creative, and passionate young people, and I'm excited for a new group of students to benefit from their hard work. This spring, I'm looking forward to welcoming some members of the YAB to Wellesley's campus for a tour and trying on our collectively designed t-shirts!”
April 1, 2022