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John Allan is a great believer in putting the young to work… in order to ensure your youth work sessions go with a bang.

Last month, you may remember, I was facing the prospect of organising a BBQ for 90 hungry school pupils. Well, thanks for asking, it went brilliantly – purely because I had the dedicated help of the amazing Beth, Lucy and Andrew, teenagers without whose heroic efforts I would now be lying dead from exhaustion beneath a pile of Tesco Value Burgers, probably with a greasy barbecue fork skewered through my heart. They worked themselves silly all lunchtime and ended up covered in sweat, cinders and ketchup. Not for the first time, kids have saved my bacon. Well, burgers.

It’s one of the secrets of longevity in youthwork, isn’t it? Get the young people to do it for you! And often, when it comes to technological stuff, they can do it much better than you anyway. So if you want a movie editing, or a cartoon strip made, or a music mix put together, remember there are teen-friendly tools at Creanza. If you want a bit of background music for something, why not get one of your group to create a muchcooler-than-you-could-manage sequence at one of the online music creators? They could use anything from the deceptively simple Dub Step Studio to the multi-featured, ultra-powerful Mixxx, which allows you to import your own tracks from a variety of sources and automatically synchronize different sources to the same number of beats per minute. And it’s all free.

(Or if you just want a bit of music playing in the background as people arrive, play any YouTube video over and over using YouRepeat. Brilliantly simple – you just set it up and leave
it running, and it won’t stop till you tell it to. You can add a YouRepeat button to your toolbar, too, or make any YouTube video repeat by doctoring the URL: change YouTube to YouRepeat in the navigation toolbar, and away it goes.)

Flash movies to reinforce your teaching? Teenagers can make them easily at Xtranormal, with the voiceover coming from little Playmobil figures looking like Sarah Palin, Mahatma Ghandi or the Queen. Weird, extremely weird, but it works and it’s easy. It’s even easier for them to create a photomagazine recording bits of their life – the weekend they did Slum Survivor, for instance – at YouTellYou. They can add captions, commentary, and pictures from other sites such as Flickr too. It’s a great way of building a shared
group history and recording it as you go.

And of course, if the kids look as if they’re having too much fun doing all this, you can always take over. Leaving them to serve the beefburgers.

July 2010
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