A Mobile Approach to Digital Creativity in Rural Ireland (ENG)

This is a story of TJ’s journey as a youth worker who provides an Advocacy and Youth Information Service to young people living in urban remote, rural areas of West Cork in Ireland. TJ has developed his practice to incorporate digital creativity and uses a mobile approach to engage rurally isolated young people through YMCA Ireland's innovative Youth Reporters Programme.




YMCA Ireland

Target group

The service targets young people in the West Cork catchment area 25,000 people under the age of 25 and approximately 10,000 between the ages of 14 and 25.


To provide information services that are responsive to the needs of young people in the catchment area

To support young people (i.e. in the role of ‘Youth Reporter’) to advocate for change by using digital media to help provide visibility and magnification of young voices. 

To use social media channels to engage young people with Advocacy and Youth Information Service and to assist with interagency objectives


YMCA Ireland’s West Cork Youth Information Service uses innovative ways of engaging with the information needs of a dispersed and largely rural community. A strategic review of this service in 2013 identified the opportunity to create opportunities to help young people use creative methodologies so that they could contribute more effectively in their ever changing world. Accordingly the service has experimented with using a number of different digital based pedagogical approaches as it has attempted to help young people develop resources around real life issues that have been relevant to them and their peers.

This digital creativity initiative has been established with the support of the TechSpace network.


At a pedagogical level the project has a number of aims including: 

  1. To help each young person to realise the depth of their creative abilities and to encourage them to believe in their powers of innovation and to create the conditions where they can flourish. 
  2. To help each person use their imagination to express themselves as they experiment, embrace “failure” as part of the learning experiences and ultimately learn by doing as they create using their medium of choice. 
  3. To encourage young people to experiment with different mediums by trying new things and emerging technologies 
  4. To help raise their awareness of the nature and impact of inequalities and to involve young people themselves in working to challenge and change them, and not just the young people directly affected 

On a practical level the project has a number of objectives including: 

  1. To identify issues that are affecting young people in the West Cork area and to help young people develop responses to address these issues 
  2. To help young people develop skills in digital media including ‘Creative Confidence’ skills: i.e. Ideation, Innovation, Collaboration, Flexibility & Persistence 
  3. To support young people to use digital media to develop responses to issues and to provide opportunities to share their responses at showcase events or via social media. In this way young voices are magnified further helping to ensure their perspectives are considered by those with the power to affect change.


  • Digital media and audio technologies
  • STEM technologies
  • Adobe Creative Cloud


“It has given me a platform to express my thoughts on important issues in a creative process that provides me with essential life skills.” 

“The YMCA literally hands young people the equipment and facilities we need to make and learn, and also to meet and interact with other young people from different places. I never felt as though I was a juvenile young person in a group of other young people being spoken down to……It has always felt as though it’s completely about sharing information and having conversations which to me is quite refreshing.” 

„I have seen my confidence steadily grow over the last year and I credit it to my involvement in digital media work. As well as that, my mind has been opened to a whole new range of career opportunities. Before getting involved I would have seen certain careers as unreachable and hadn’t even considered them a possibility for my future, whereas now they seem far more achievable.”


Young advocates collaborate with staff to:

  1. activate youth citizenship skills through the development of signposting skills and engaging with changemakers. 
  2. share digital outputs and engage with services users via social media channels.
  3. enable the service’s online provision, signposting and creating opportunities to engage in conversations and develop information seeking skills in navigating digital media sources.


  • Outcome based collaboration in partnership with young people
  • Young people find their element/ passion and create artefacts
  • Development of creative confidence
  • Advocacy based on youth research
  • Innovation based on empathy insights
  • Storytelling skills developed

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