In Conversation with Caitlin Wood, Head of Programs at Project Rockit
Caitlin Wood is leading one of our most admired teams in Australia right now. As the Head of Programs at Project Rockit, she’s in charge of delivering programs in schools that help young people to stand up for themselves and combat bullying and hate.
With our focus on digital citizenship and how young people can use positive posting on social media to create opportunities, we are keen supporters of the work that Project Rockit is doing in schools to combat negativity online. We chatted to Caitlin to find out more.
1. Can you tell us a bit about Project Rockit and how the team is helping to build spaces where imagination, leadership, creative expression and acceptance are available to all young people, regardless of their social label, grades, gender, sexuality or cultural background?
PROJECT ROCKIT work in Aussie schools everyday, tackling the issues on bullying, hate and prejudice. We believe school should be a place of acceptance and safety and unfortunately this isn’t the reality for some students. Our workshops aim to deliver real strategies for students that will enable them to stand up for themselves or a mate and empower them to lead the change they want to see. We have real talk every day with students and work with them in tackling the nasty stuff and realising their full potential.
2. What is one of the coolest strategies you’ve seen kids comes up with to combat bullying, prejudice and hate?
What I love about working with students each day is their insights into combating nasty stuff online. The growing number of young people finding their voice and crew online is so amazing to hear and see. Young people are in the mix of it all each day, they’re the experts, the digital natives!
I learn new tricks and tips from students all the time. One tip in particular, which i heard from a parent and student recently was that this girl was being pressured to send explicit photos (and you know what I talking about here, nude selfies). She was pretty shocked to receive this kind of pressure and said to me, “I was like, no way am I going to send one….” So, to stop the person pressuring her to send the images, giving a simple ‘no’ didn’t cut it in this instance, so she went and found her old school barbie doll collection and took photos of those dolls sans clothes, in place of a nude selfie, and sent them back!
The person who was pressuring her thought it was not only funny, but they actually apologised for putting pressure on her and said they wouldn’t do it again. I thought, how gutsy, and what a great way to prove humour is awesome to deflect an awkward situation. Her mum was pretty proud too, they were a cool family!
3. Co-founder Lucy was emphatic on The Project recently that social media is NOT all bad. Having worked with thousands of students across Australia, what do you see as the benefits of social media use for teens?
The greatest benefit I see for young people when it comes to social media use is the ability to find their voice. Social media is not all scary and doom and gloom – the way the media often love to paint it when it comes to young people accessing it. In my work, I’m fortunate enough to see just how positively young people are using these platforms.
Whether it be to stand up to someone online because they don’t necessarily have the confidence to do it in person or alternatively, find their crew – people that are into similar games, passion or opinions. We always recommend to parents that they ask their child what it is they are using and get them to show them and teach them the ropes. I’ve had so many parents report back to me after doing this, saying not only was it a great bonding experience, but they learnt so much about say, Instagram or Pinterest.
4. If young people are using social media as a “highlight reel”, how can they avoid narcissism with positive messaging?
Think before you post. This sounds so simple and obvious, but a bit of foresight sight goes a long way. I went through periods in my teenage years of admittedly posting narcissistic images or status updates. It is tempting to view everything we see online as a real and honest portrayal of that person’s life, but we know that’s just not the case. We need to take the burden off our shoulders in the need to present the prefect life online. Taking a moment before we post to think ‘why do I feel the need to post this?’ gives us a chance to have a think, and potentially learn something about ourselves. That something may mean we need to talk to someone for advice or ask a friend to support us. We’re massive fans of using social media in a really positive way. Personally, I make a point to follow really hilarious and positive groups online, so I am flooded with good vibes.
5. What are you most excited about for the year ahead for Project Rockit?
I actually just had a conversation with my team about all our upcoming adventures and they really are exciting. We will launching an online curriculum which will take our face-to-face workshops into possibly every Aussie school. Anywhere with an Internet connection and BAM you can have PROJECT ROCKIT for your students. This is has been a massive passion project and we’re so pumped to finally make this a reality! We’ve also got an app on the way, so you can have PROJECT ROCKIT in your pocket, and have a dose of daily inspiration. There’s lots going on!