The Social Justice Repair Kit project is working with partners around the world, including in Colombia, Rwanda, Mexico and the Canadian North. Partners are organisations and groups that are actively working with youth or are hosting youth movements, youth action events and social justice movements.
Fundación Universitaria Tecnológico Comfenalco (FUTCO)
FUTCO is a higher educational institution founded in 1984, whose mission is training people within an innovative research and entrepreneurial culture. The university aims to positively impact the social environment based on the development of applied research and development projects. FUTCO aims to support vulnerable populations, providing solutions for access to high quality education, high quality health care and several diverse social welfare programs.
In Colombia, which has experienced decades of civil conflict, violent gangs prey on and recruit vulnerable youth. At the same time, in a country with a richness of threatened and critical biospheres, Colombian public infrastructure for environmental protection is virtually non-existent. El Guardia Ambiental, also known as “The Guardians of Peace and the Environment,” are a burgeoning youth movement that engages youth in monitoring and protecting precarious natural ecosystems. The Guardians provide abundant opportunities for youth to develop and practice important portable skills and competencies.
Through the Social Justice Repair Kit project, the Inclusive Design Research Centre is working with FUTCO Fundación Universitaria Tecnológico Comfenalco to support the Guardians in welcoming and engaging youth with learning differences. Ultimately guided by the Guardians, the youth themselves, and local partners; the IDRC is providing scaffolds, tools, resources and awareness training to ensure that youth with learning differences can participate fully in the activities of the Guardians. This includes support for accessible open data monitoring, analysis and synthesis, and scaffolded communication tools. Among the tools and resources that have already been integrated is a function called “Learner Options” that enables the personalization of the Guardian Web site to match personal needs and preferences such as text-to-speech, “simplification” to support focus, and text spacing. The Guardians have integrated an accessible personalizable learning management system, originally developed by the IDRC, called ATutor. The team is also co-creating applications to analyse and understand data in a way that supports learning differences.
In engaging youth with learning differences in environmental protection, the Guardians are protecting vulnerable youth from predatory recruitment into violent gangs and paving a way back to engagement in productive learning.
Through the Social Justice Repair Kit project, FUTCO has developed a story gathering and story sharing platform. This platform provides an opportunity for participants in the city of Cartagena and surrounding areas to share stories about their lives, which gives them a chance to reflect on their strengths and needs and to find commonalities with others. Through this process systemic issues are revealed, both to the participants (informing their analysis and understanding of their experience), as well as to government and policy makers.
The stories create a dialogue about diversity in Cartagena and in Colombia, and promote greater social awareness and acceptance of that diversity, by including the stories of people with disabilities and learning differences. Among the tools and resources that have already been integrated is a function called “Learner Options” that enables the personalization of the Cuentalo site to match personal needs and preferences. Access to these stories can inspire others in similar situations to reflect on their own lives and to know they are not alone in their circumstances. The full library of stories can also be found on the YouTube channel.
Fundación Karisma (Karisma)
Karisma is a Colombian civil society organization founded in 2003 to ensure that the benefits of technology reach those most in need, and that technological developments promote human rights. It approaches activism from both legal and technological angles, working in coalition with local, regional and international partners.
The Karisma Foundation in Colombia has been working together with the Social Justice Repair Kit on a project named El Planeta es la Escuela (The Planet is the School). The motto of this project is to “learn, innovate and narrate the territory”, and includes the participation of youth groups in the rural area of Fresno (Tolima) as well as in the city of Medellin (Antioquia).
Following the objectives of the “Social Justice Repair Kit”, this project is generating experiences that strengthen the relationship between youth groups and the territory to which they belong, through two strategies:
- Exploring opportunities to create or innovate in the territory.
- Gathering personal and collective stories to share experiences as young people, told from their own point of view.
For the Colombian writer William Ospina, it is urgent that educational processes have a purpose that is not reduced to individual success and profitability, but rather one that engenders a deep sense of dignity and community. This is possible when the education system makes space for thought, creativity, communication, socialization and happiness. If the “Planet is the school” our task is to learn, innovate and narrate the territory.
The project is being developed with two groups, the young women of the “Motivando a la Gyal Festival” of Platohedro (Medellín) and the students of the 9, 10 and 11th grades of the Colegio Real Campestre (Mireya and Las Marías, Fresno), with the addition of more schools in the region as the project develops.
Project in Medellín:
“Motivating the Gyal*” is a festival that brings together young women from the city of Medellín to work around topics such as collaborative technologies, feminism, local food growing, social cartography, and more. Its second iteration took place in September 2018 with the support of the SJRK project.
* Slang for girl, female, or lady in the Caribbean.
Thanks to the support of the SJRK project, Motivando a la Gyal held a pre-launch event in August 2018, improving their social media platforms with self-developing content (illustrations, videos, audios) and also they had support for the logistic of the festival in September. [Read more in Motivando a la Gyal report - Spanish]
Juliana Soto, from Karisma, presented a series of “maps” that she developed after listening to the whatsapp audio messages that the young women of Motivando a la Gyal sent to her, answering a list of questions. The maps are a way to understand the expectations, the dreams and all the “behind the scenes” experiences of the group in Medellín, in an anonymous format.
Project in Fresno: Opportunities for young coffee growers
The goal of this initiative is to support students in the last grades of high school in rural areas of Fresno, Tolima, Colombia. For them, it is a time when questions about the future (i.e. staying in the country or the possibility of going to the cities) begin to intensify. With “Opportunities for young coffee growers” Karisma designed a series of workshops that involve creativity, the possibilities of local entrepreneurship, and digital tools, we are seeking to amplify these questions and find possible ways to solve them through collaborative dynamics, while stressing the local context.
The project has 5 stages:
- Tuning our stories.
- Exploring opportunities in our territory.
- Visits to local entrepreneurs and creative workshops**
- Developing projects
- Final thoughts and reflections
In the spring of 2018 the students visited different places in town and close to town, including:
- Finca El Cámbulo - an organic farm
- Machine shop
- Touristic tour
- Beauty salon and barbershop
Karisma designed a guide to develop those visits (in Spanish).
The goal of the workshops was to give a creative, artistic and communicative channel to the visits related to entrepreneurship activities. For example, the first workshop was a drawing workshop led by Colombian artist Angélica Ramírez. Please see Angélica’s report about the experience (in Spanish) and the presentation of the workshop.
In June 2018 Karisma finished the workshops in Fresno with Natalia Mesa Parodi, a writer who led a workshop about reading aloud and written creation activities. [Spanish report, including images].
A key part of the project is the use of the Kimera Local Network (offline) and the Coffee Grower Network (online) to follow up the project.
More about the local network:
During the project, the KIMERA LOCAL NETWORK has been adapted and improved, using it in each of the venues of the Real Campestre School. The local network has been used to disseminate and to give participants access to information about local ventures and activities.
Additionally, it has allowed the documentation of the progress of the project and also, facilitated collaborative dynamics among the participants, including the diffusion and sharing of the storytelling videos, and the outcomes of the creative workshops.
As for the limited or null connectivity, internet access does not exist in practice at the schools. It is expected that this digital tool can be adjusted to the requirements of the central server in Canada and allows the integration of the local results with those of the central project in Canada and will share the contents and results of the central project in the different venues in Colombia.
Collaborations: bringing together the rural and urban experiences
In May 2018 Platohedro hosted a workshop in Medellín. The workshop gathered together students from Fresno with activists, artists, and designers from Motivando a la Gyal, researchers from IDRC (OCAD University) and activists from Karisma Foundation. We also had the chance to prove the first version of the Storytelling Tool, developed by IDRC, and took notes on the reactions of the students. Please see this blog post and Tweet for more details.
In Medellín we followed a very intense agenda. The following “radio session” was recorded at the end of the event to provide an opportunity to reflect on and discuss the project of Motivando a la Gyal.
In October 2018, the Motivando a la Gyal group from Medellin visited the students in Fresno. The proposed theme was “the land and the sowing, from the city to the countryside”, and the goal was to create new networks of collaboration between the project participants, and to have the opportunity to exchange knowledge, experiences, stories and challenges from different perspectives. During this visit the Motivando a la Gyal group had a chance to see the new orchards that the students from Fresno started to grow after they had participated in the collaborative workshops in Medellín.
The students from Fresno are running a new project: a Facebook newscast to share information from the school to the broader community of the town. Some of them did an interview to the Motivando a la Gyal group during their visit. The video is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50P6HeOOOB0
- Support the teachers of some public secondary education institutions in Fresno to use technology in learning processes and support their students in identifying their interests and motivations as they leave school and have to make decisions about their future.
- Support local talent inviting people from the area to be the leaders of the workshops in order to develop an open curriculum with the communities, based on the experiences so far.
- Create a narrative from the territory about Fresno, and then take advantage of those ideas in the workshops.
- Identify points in common between the two experiences (Colegios en Fresno y Platohedro) that allow them to share knowledge, initiatives and themes of interest.
- To install the local network Kimera in new schools in Fresno (at least in 4) and support the process of appropriation of this technology.
Aniyamuzaala James Rwampigi/SMARTlab
James is a Ugandan PhD student at SMARTlab - Inclusive Design Research Centre, University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland, where he works under the supervision of Professor Lizbeth Goodman. He is also a humanitarian action professional and knowledge investigator on topics related to Assistive Technology, Disability Rights, Age, Diversity, and Inclusion. James is based in Vienna, Austria and Kampala,Uganda.
The SMARTlab UCD runs practice-based graduate programs and a research centre for designers, engineers, artists and technologists working across disciplines. It supports a suite of community engagement and creative industry projects around e-inclusion and design for ability, (amongst other topics). It houses a knowledge transfer centre, sensory studio and makerspace/VR lab where local communities can join forces with UCD academics, artists, technologists and game designers to make and test games and interactive tools.
Matching the mismatch, Social Justice and Young people with learning differences in Rwanda.
The Rwanda social justice project is led by Aniyamuzaala James Rwampigi in partnership with the SMARTlab and with UWEZO youth empowerment Rwanda, an organisation by and for youth with disabilities. By working together with young people with learning differences in environments outside of formal education systems in Rwanda, this project aims to understand the interactions among young people with learning differences, aspects of their day to day life, and their participation in society including education and youth organisations.
The first phase of the project started with the situation analysis of the young people with learning differences and their environments in Rwanda. Informal interviews and questionnaires, stories and data were gathered from young people with learning differences between the ages of 18 to 30 years old. The young people with learning differences were defined as those who are out of school because their needs are not addressed by the existing formal education system. Data was also gathered from the organisations of and for the young people to find out how they include them in their programmes. The research study report provides evidence of the mismatch between the needs of young people with learning differences and their environments including the formal education system. Education and training institutions do not inclusively design strategies and practices to address their needs. Human and financial resources are limited to address the challenges faced by young people with learning differences.
The study recommends the development of inclusive platforms, spaces, guides and tools that facilitate participation of young women, girls and men with learning differences in the development processes and programmes at all levels. Supporting self-advocacy for diverse young people with learning differences in livelihood, health and education programmes is another recommendation of the research study. Advocacy for inclusive policies and initiatives which take into consideration the voices and needs of girls, young women and men with learning differences should be prioritized. The research study initiated a basic training on how to develop a business plan for young people. Follow-up work will include the development of inclusive and accessible training materials for creating a youth-friendly business development plan. Inclusive design training materials for youth organizations, youth cooperatives and young people with learning differences are being created to establish a culture of inclusive practices and inclusion of young people with learning differences in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes at all levels.
Based on the situation analysis research study results, UWEZO, with the support of the IDRC, is working on the development and adaptation of inclusive design guides and training modules relevant to the Rwandan context, which will support the ongoing work of the youth organisations and movements to be more welcoming and inclusive of youth with learning differences.
Tecnológico de Monterrey
Through educational experiences Tecnológico de Monterrey helps students become agents of change. Their social development network of students and volunteers works year-round to provide training and guidance, and promotes an entrepreneurial spirit among marginalized communities, boosting innovation through productive projects. Tecnológico de Monterrey tackles the education gap in Mexico through Prepanet, a socially responsible online platform for anyone who wishes to finish their high school studies regardless of their schedule, age, or economic status.
Tecnológico Monterrey is working with youth organisations in Mexico to gather narratives around barriers to education and disengagement from formal education, with a focus on youth with learning differences.
TakingITGlobal (TIG) empowers youth to understand and act on the world’s greatest challenges. Their free action guides, summer camps, and educator training help to engage students in deep learning through real-world problem solving. Through Connected North, TIG delivers culturally-relevant content to Canada’s most remote communities, supporting Indigenous youth leadership and cultural exchange.
Whose Land Videos
Working in collaboration with Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island, the TIG team has helped to facilitate the creation of a series of videos which portray Indigenous perspectives about the importance of land and culture. Aiming to increase understanding of why land acknowledgements are important, and the way Indigenous people view their relationship to land, these videos complement a web-based app that uses GIS technology to assist users in identifying Indigenous Nations, territories, and Indigenous communities across Canada. The app consists of six different maps of Indigenous territories, Treaties, and First Nations, Inuit, and Metis communities. Each community’s location will eventually host a land acknowledgement video, and other information that the community would like to include on their page. The app will be used as an educational tool to create dialogue around reconciliation. It will be a starting point for conversation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous citizens across this country about land, territorial recognition and land acknowledgement. Thus far, 8 videos have been created and posted to the page.
Through the SJRK project, the IDRC worked with TIG to support development of the initial concept of this community storytelling initiative. The pilot project has since been successfully scaled into a full project called CanCode which will entail working with 80 Indigenous youth from 40 communities to create community videos. The next step of engagement with SJRK will focus on ensuring transcription content is available in Indigenous languages, some of which are considered to be endangered.
TIG is working to align the Rising Youth Guide to Action with the inclusion goals of the SJRK project. Thus far, this has involved breaking the process of designing service projects and partnership building with other organizations into an easy to understand, youth friendly guide which enables young people to grow their agency and impact at the community level. Starting with a vision for their communities, youth are guided through a process to map their assets or gifts, and then to use a design canvass to build out their service projects. Connection to SDGs is still to be strengthened in this output, and there is an intention to branch the document into a stand-alone asset focused entirely on Sustainable Development Goals.
Inclusive Activity Animation Guide
Influence on other TIG projects
Overall, involvement with the SJRK project has provided an ongoing focus on inclusion and accessibility across TIG projects. Learning from the inclusive design best practices being modeled by the IDRC, TIG staff involved in the project have acted as inclusive design mediators to ensure inclusion and accessibility are incorporated across other TIG projects and deliverables. Examples of this include: ensuring that the grant process for the Canada Service Core are aligned with accessibility options. Implementing a partnership with the CCSD - Canadian Center for Deaf Culture, Unlocking Culture, has also greatly benefitted from the learnings and conversations occurring within SJRK. Unlocking Culture seeks to provide digital platforms to enhance ASL and LSQ instruction facilitated by Deaf individuals across Canada. Participation in SJRK has greatly demystified the process of determining and implementing accessibility and inclusion initiatives across the project.
- Proposed Mash-up to leverage SJRK storytelling tool across TIG initiatives Decarbonize/Decolonize and CanCode - Create to Learn.
- Collaboration through Canada Service Core project to pilot implementation of Guide to Action.