20 young leaders have just finished an initial round of social media campaigns responding to the growing trend of radical and/or extreme behaviour in young people in France, Greece and Poland. Game Changer project participants shared with us their lessons learned contributing to the Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism  space.

Game Changer is an international project funded by the European Union utilizing innovative technology and cross-sectoral cooperation to empower NGOs and youth leaders (called Ambassadors of Change) to respond to the growing trend of radical and/or extreme behaviour in young people throughout Europe.

Game Changer does this through online social media campaigns and in-person (and now exploring online) Social City Games (or Social RPGs) that encourage young people to be the actors of change in their local communities.

Ambassador of Change’s Lessons Learned:

1.      Small actions can create big results

This is something we all have to be reminded of from time to time and regardless what work you do or what results you are looking for, it’s important to remember that often times small actions can indeed create big results.

This sentiment is a common theme in both our project partners and our Ambassadors of Change because we all want to create big change, but often we need to be reminded that something as simple as a small what might seem simple post is what we need to do to create change.

2.      Creating social media campaigns helps build courage and confidence.

If you are reading this and you think most young people are social media savvy, you might be correct. Now if you consider how most people consume social media, consider that people consume significantly more social media than they create. Just because young people scroll through a plethora of content every day doesn’t mean they are creating their own content.

That being said, our Ambassador of Change’s confidence in their content creation and the frequency of their posting increased significantly as their campaigns went on. We could credit this to familiarity with the platform, but we heard from so many of our young people, their teachers and our partners that it takes a lot to create your first post. Each post is a work of art and to share your art takes a big step.

We are happy to hear that through Game Changer we have worked to help build confidence in courage in this first group of young people to run these campaigns.

3.      Our actions online can influence and inform other people.

Hearing our Ambassadors of Change share this feeling is vital to the success of our project and more importantly to young aspiring leaders creating change in both their local communities and beyond.

Social media is a big part of today’s world and for young people to understand the possible influence of social media on their peers only helps further leverage the importance of our work being done by our project and others like it.

4.      We already know what to say but knowing HOW to say it is the difficult part.

Have you heard this before? This is likely a thought we’ve all had, but this is especially true with our Ambassador of Change campaigns.

So much of knowing what to say is knowing who you are speaking to and better understanding of what action you are trying to encourage (or discourage).

Each campaign has its’ own call to action and is trying to accomplish a variety of missions from educating, encouraging people to speak out against racist and anti-LGBTQIA+ sentiments or even young environmentalist hate, but understanding what to say to accomplish this can be incredibly difficult.

Creating space for our Ambassadors of Change to encounter these challenges and begin anew was key to the improvement of their campaigns. Through our project we witnessed each campaign evolve and understand what actions (or lack thereof) their content was creating. From the first phase of each campaign to the next, we saw a start shift in messaging and visual identify, which helped each group better understand what they wanted to do versus what actions they were actually creating.

This process proved to need the most support from our social media experts, but understandably so as this is difficult for anyone to understand how online actions create in-person actions.

Making mistakes and encountering challenges is how we all learn and our project was more than happy to discover our Ambassadors of Change were willing to share their challenges as we also have to understand how to better support each group of change-makers as we scale-up and engage more young people looking to create change.