Spreading information, encouraging discussion, calling for action
The Youth Media and Action Program (YMAP) for 13 to 15 year-olds, is a 2-3 year intensive educational initiative designed to give participants the knowledge and skills required to bring critical and constructive discourse to their communities. Since 1994 this project has empowered hundreds of graduates to become part of a movement for change in Israeli, Palestinian and international society. The program consists of two main components:
Empowerment: waking the young activist
The program begins with an empowerment stage of Civic Responsibility, where the youth, ages 13-14 (8th grade), meet in Single Identity Groups (SIG) framework, each in their own community - Palestinians from the OPT, Israeli Jews and Palestinian citizens of Israel. Thus, participants are offered the safe space to first focus on themselves and their close communities - their individual and collective needs,as well as find their own voices within their collectives before engaging with the complexities of the conflict at large.
As understanding oneself is a crucial step in beginning to understand each other, the 8-10 participants of this stage explore their identities and values; develop crucial expression and communication abilities, critical thinking and conflict resolution skills; They practice activism through mini-projects which they initiate and implement in their own communities after identifying community needs. At the end of this stage, those who see the benefit of workingwith youth from the "other side" towards change are invited to join the Young Journalists stage.
Meeting the other side when ready for it - the courage to listen
The Young Journalists utilize media skills as their method of learning and taking action. In preparation for the first seminar in which the youth from the 3 groups meet each other for the first time face to face, they exchange letters in which they present themselves and their motivation, share expectations and concerns, ask questions about their daily life and begin to answer. This methodology was developed in Windows in its early days, responding to the need to deal with the distance between the editorial groups, the lack of common language and the difficulty of obtaining permits for joint meetings. It gradually became one of the main tools enabling youth to process their feelings and opinions in the safe space of the weekly SIG meetings, and then share them in a constructive way with the 'others' through the exchange of letters as well as in the joint weekend seminars 3-4 times a year. The youth develop the courage to listen, understand and acknowledge differences, rather than hiding behind defensive walls. As part of the Windows’ unique transformative process, the youth engage in learning history through the perspective of their families. Using journalism technique, they explore their own and their peers’ family histories through interviews, mapping and writing the story of the ‘other’, as they gradually develop a wider perspective of the past and present.
Sharing information and ideas with growing, then shrinking, audiences
Young Journalists are then responsible for writing, editing, and designing the Windows Hebrew-Arabic Youth Magazine. They use these skills to enhance the discourse among each other and their communities. While the magazine has not been published recently as a magazine, due to the growing antagonism on both sides, its preparation is still being used as a tool in the participants’ process, and the older copies are used in Windows’ school workshops.
Windows' methodologies help the participants overcome tough emotional times.Technology helps when lack of permits or funding makes it hard to meet face to face. Groups from Jenin area, Tamra (Galilee) and Tel-Aviv area (2009).