Spotlight on #ICANHELP’s upcoming event #Digital4Good. 

NAMLE has had the opprotunity to interview #ICANHELP for this month’s organizational partner bulletin. Below you will be able to learn about the wonderful resources #ICANHELP has and their upcoming event #Digital4Good. 

When did #ICANHELP launch and why?

We got started in 2012 when students at our school made a fake Facebook page about a teacher. It had over 1000 followers, caused a lot of drama, and was up for over two weeks. Eventually, a student turned in the person who made the page and it was taken down. A year later, a different student made a fake Instagram page about the same teacher. This time, the page had 0 followers, we had over 30 students go online and speak up in support of the teacher, the page was reported and taken down in less than 45 minutes. To date, with the help of students and our industry partners, we have helped to remove over 1000 pages online dealing with harassment, bullying and impersonation. We learned that we could train students with a specific set of tools to respond to online negativity and take action – which is where our name came from – #ICANHELP.

What does #ICANHELP do? What are its main goals? Main projects?

#ICANHELP educates and empowers students to use social media positively. We do this through school trainings, leadership development and staff development. Right now we have two big projects, one is building up our train the trainer program with educators so we can impact more students across the country. Our second main project is #Digital4Good (www.digital4good.net) which is our annual celebration of youth who are making an impact online and offline in their schools and in their communities. Most recently, we partnered with Aaron Judge of the Yankees, Sharpie, and The Player’s Tribune with Uncap the Possibilities to help raise awareness of our work.

What makes #icanhelp stand out? What would you say is the most unique thing about #icanhelp?

At our core, we empower students to use their voice and lead change at their school. Since students make up a majority of every school campus, change that will impact campus climate and culture needs to come from students. Everything we had come across, up to our own incidents of cyberbullying, was just about keeping students safe. We set out to create opportunities for young people to create and plan events and campaigns that would impact the overall culture of the school. Soon, it was students training students. They became the keepers of the culture and the staff was there to support them.

What are recent projects or new resources that #icanhelp would like to share with other NAMLE members?

Most exciting is our #Digital4Good event which is streaming online on Monday, 9-17-18 from Google’s Community Space in San Francisco, CA. We will be live from 9:00AM to 2:30 PM PST and host a myriad of speakers like the Trust and Safety director from Google, YouTube Creator Nick Haus as well as 12 amazing students from across the US. We will even have a special message from New York Yankees star Aaron Judge. This is our second time hosting this event and it keeps getting bigger. After the event, you can find the student stories online to use in classrooms (students inspiring students). Along with #Digital4Good, we are in the process of moving our curriculum online and hope to have that finished soon – early September. You can check out our blog with posts from our industry partners and nonprofit partners (including a blog post from NAMLE ED Michelle C. Lipkin).

What are the connections between the work of #icanhelp and media literacy?

When it comes to internet safety, students have heard too often the words harassment, cyberbullying and so on. However, if you mention drama, they get it. Our goal has always been to teach digital literacy, media literacy and social literacy. For young people, learning how to determine if something is true, evaluate a source, research, investigate and create are core skills that every student needs. The better we can do at teaching these skills and develop competency in these different literacies the more tools students have in their toolbox to stay safe online & offline.

Why is media literacy important to you?

We are inundated with information daily. For students, being able to manage how they get their information, evaluate that information and then synthesize how they present that new knowledge is a core skill. We hear from students all the time about being overwhelmed which in turn adds to their anxiety and stress. With media literacy, we can give students the tools they need to manage the information around them and empower young people to create good content with that information.

Anything else about want our readers to know about #icanhelp, your mission, your staff?

#ICANHELP is a vehicle for social change. Before our trainings, 30% of students indicate that they are willing to stand up to online bullying and harassment. After our training, that number goes up to 88%. We are working to create a world where kindness and respect are the norm. You can help us by spreading the word about our work, use the hashtag, and check out our event, #Digital4Good to see the impact students are making on other students with their amazing stories.

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