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Let's Play Outside
Training Teenagers in Content Creation
by Mpumelelo Mfula, Director, Let’s Play Outside
If you are a millennial today, you may remember a publication distributed at high schools called Free 4 All (it’s actually still going, check out their website). As a high school student, I remember waiting in anticipation for every issue of this free newspaper to be delivered to my school. The teachers would only hand us our copy on Fridays during the last period of the day because they knew we would all be distracted. It was the equivalent of social media networks today, a publication that felt like it was done by teenagers and for us.
The Free 4 All newspaper had all the right elements for high school students, from the perfect centrefold A3 poster for our bedroom walls, to popular song lyrics and gossip, among other things.
In 2021 Let’s Play Outside started a content development programme that would educate high school students on how to create content using their phones, and then publish and monetise it. The six-month curriculum aims to create a new version of what Free 4 All meant to us back in the day - content genuinely created by youth, for youth. This time, our mission is to put the power and structure in the hands of the students.
In our first season between 2021/22 Let’s Play Outside had the privilege of working with students from Daliwonga Secondary School in Soweto and Phumulani Secondary School from Katlehong, as part of our first cohort of students for the programme. After six months of fun and challenging training of the students, they have shown great improvement as storytellers and have created their own short film that they developed, shot, edited and published independently, with the guidance of mentors and coaches assigned for them.
Instax South Africa contributed by sending Mini Link printers and film for one of the final projects. The Instax printers helped to teach the students practical ways of instantly printing their photos and, with prints being sold, a fun way to monetise their photography skills in an affordable fashion.
This short documentary gives a clear indication of the power of bringing play in the classroom and having teenagers translate and share their world with all of us through visual storytelling.
Now that we are done with our first season of the programme, we want to expand on the curriculum by exploring various ways to teach traditional and modern forms of publishing. In the next season we are aiming for the students to publish their stories in both digital and more traditional formats. Instax prints will be used to create school newspapers/zines, which will be distributed within the participating schools and their immediate communities.