My First workshop with the Upstart team

The Upstart group consists of six members, one black male, one white male and four black females. These members range from the range of sxteen to eighteen years of age. They have been chosen from certain schools within Grahamstown such as Nombulelo High School and PJ Olivier. These schools vary in language and income level.

At half past two my colleague and I travelled seperate cars to fetch the pupils. Once we picked them up from their individual schools we took the pupils to the Journ department. What I noticed from the start was how shy the new pupils were, and I realised I would have to make a constnt effort to make the workshops as relaxed and fun as possible. In the beginning we let each person say their name and how old they were and tell a "random fact" about themselves, this slightly hlped to make the members relax. We wanted to get more interaction between the team so we started playig an nformal game to set the mood. Ths helped dramatically.

One characteristic I learnt in the next excersize changed my way to approach issues for the futre. We asked the team to write down the idividual things they loved and hated. Their social backgrouns became very obvious here. For example the boys mentioned loving rugby while some of the girls illustrated they loved helping their mothers or cooking. There was a definate diverge in interests in other aspects to, and I realise this may be an aspect we will have to tackle in the future.

After this excersize we asked all the members to write down as many aspects they feel affects their immediate society, the following aspects came up often:

Substance abuse: mainly smoking and alcohol.
Teenage pregnancy
Crime in and out of the schooling sphere
Hiv and AIDS

The media and how it affects us
Global warming
Why students have a high turnover rate at school
Education and the hardships at certain schools (such as lack of resources)
Child Abuse

Once we made this list we took te members to the studio room where we had a recorded informal focus group. The main issues spoken about were substance abuse and teenage pregnancy. Alarmingly there seems to be mny students, as young as thirteen apparetly who smoke cigarrettes. hey are extremely easy to obtain and this is done as a sort of social statement. Alcohol is also abused by these children, mainly over the weekend, because they want to be seen as "older" and "more responsible", it is also a social statement as people look "cool" when they drink. When asked of we could nterview a few of these children hey seemed very hesitant as to not sell out their friends. I realised this could be another difficult factor to overcome. In the future we need to emphasize the importance f proffessional journalism, as well as the fact that these stories can be completely anonymous.

Once again the members claimed they "knew of" someone who was pregnant or had a child, yet they were not fully convinced we could talk to them on the matter. The issue of sex and the alarming regularity of this aspect was broughtup aswell, followed by a debate of whether or not sex should be taught at schools.

The above issues that weredealtwith could all be potential themes to shows, wejus need to work and prbe on these aspects more. Another interesting theme that the one white boy mentioned was the increased phenomena of self mutililation in his school which was mainly doe by his white female frends, yet the black females in the class had no issues at their schools with this aspect, I found this very interesting and feel it too could be an issue to touch on.

To conclude the frst wokshop went as planned, except for the shyness in the beginning. I feel we generated lots of productivity through the fcus group, yet we do have to work n threeissues the difference in social aspets between the groupmembers(such as upbringing), as well as the fact that many peope have interesting story ideas but are too afraid to implement them.However this will come with time, aswe need to stress the importance of anonymity.

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