The Power of Creative Advocacy
Advocacy is about supporting, defending or speaking out on behalf of others and arguing for or promoting a cause. Advocacy is an important part of social innovation and creating change. Itinvolves putting forward ideasand trying to persuade others to support these. Advocating can take many forms including lobbying, rallying, researching, education, litigation and more and it is usually done in support of a cause addressing an issue such as equality, human rights or fairness.
Advocates ensure that those most vulnerable or marginalised in our society have the opportunity to have their voices heard. When significant numbers of people give their support to a cause, it can motivate those responsible or in positions of power to take action. In short advocacy can make change happen.
In today’s fast-paced info-saturated society, many people, groups and organisations are rethinking communication methods and inceasingly exploring creative ways to get their message across, catch the public’s attention and influence decision makers. People have begun to examine advocacy through a creative lens.
The creation and promotion of online challenges that are simultaneously fun and informative and that encourage participation and sharing among audiences have had huge success in recent time in promoting particular causes and campaigns. Though simple they can raise the public’s consciousness about a social issue and reach a much larger audience than traditional communication methods ever could. Consider the Ice Bucket Challenge for Motor Neuron Disease as an example.
Creative advocacy offers a way of engaging and empowering people. Creative methods of advocacy might embrace music, poetry, drama, film, visual art, dance, mime, and even gaming, as well as many other forms of communication. Using creative methods to explore social issues and explain complex concepts can help engage people on an emotional level. It can stimulate thinking, promote empathy and create a climate for greater understanding. It is also a great way to explore issues that may be difficult to discuss in an open manner and can help to create a safe environment for people to voice their thoughts and feelings.
Young Social Innovators gives young people the opportunity to explore creative advocacy by giving them a platform and encouraging them to speak out on the social issues they are tackling in innovative and inspiring ways as part of the YSI ACTION Programme.
In March each year the YSI Speak Out Tour sees thousands of young people speaking out on the issues affecting them, their communities and wider society. Teams are given 2 minutes on stage to creatively present their social issue and the innovative actions they are taking to bring about positive change. This Speak Out platform was created as a way of encouraging young people to gain a much more in-depth understanding of the social issues they are addressing and also to allow them to experience advocating on behalf of others for a fairer and more equal society.
My advice for social innovators everywhere who want to make a real difference is to be as creative as possible. As President Obama said:
The future belongs to young people with an education and the imagination to create.