Launching MY World 360°, A New Global Storytelling Initiative for Youth

April 17, 2018 | By and

How might we engage young people in sharing their passions for changing the world through exploration of new media and technology?

Over the last few years, Digital Promise Global has explored that question with our partner, Oculus, and we are excited to embark on the next phase of that journey, which we kicked off last month at the Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development. The festival saw 1,500 changemakers from over 100 countries gathered in Bonn, Germany, hosted by our newest partner in this work, the United Nations SDG Action Campaign. It was there that we launched MY World 360°, a new initiative inviting youth worldwide to use 360° media and storytelling to share their perspectives and advance positive action towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The three-day festival featured workshops, film screenings, and a variety of immersive experiences like a Virtual Reality Zone showing the human stories behind development challenges. Since January 2015, the UN SDG Action Campaign has run the United Nations Virtual Reality Project to use virtual reality (VR) as a medium “to bring the world’s most pressing challenges closer to decision makers and global citizens around the world, pushing the boundaries of empathy.” We were thrilled to join the event to share our experiences supporting students to use storytelling and media to activate positive change, and to announce the launch of MY World 360° at the opening plenary of the event.

Parisa Zagat, Head of Policy Programs for Oculus [right], announcing the launch of MY World 360° at the opening plenary session, “The Power of Action: Create the Change You Want to See,” at the Global Festival of Action. (Credit: Neil Baynes)

In addition to facilitating a hands-on workshop for participants to experience immersive storytelling and create their own, we hosted an interactive station where attendees were invited into the world of youth-produced 360° media, with examples from the 360 Filmmakers Challenge. The playlist included previous awardees of that challenge, like Breaking Barriers by Parkville High School in Baltimore, MD; Kitchens by Menlo-Atherton High School in Atherton, CA; Out of the Blue by the Bay Area Video Coalition in San Francisco, CA; School Has One Syllable by People In Education in Detroit, MI; The Tour by Utica Center for Science and Industry in Sterling Heights, MI; and Human Trafficking by Kettering Fairmont High School in Kettering, OH.

Participants at the Global Festival of Action experience youth-produced media created as part of the 360 Filmmakers Challenge. (Credit: Neil Baynes)

Since our partnership with Oculus for the 360 Filmmakers Challenge began in 2016, we’ve witnessed the power of young people sharing their perspectives and stories in their own voices through this exciting, new, and immersive medium. Working as creators, not just consumers of media, students take us into their imaginations and their lived experiences, sharing everything from what it’s like to have social anxiety to the experience of living in a community with high rates of human trafficking. Now, with MY World 360°, we’re able to leverage experiential storytelling and immersive technologies to support even more young people, not just in the United States but around the world, to share their perspectives and communities and inspire positive action on issues they care about.

A participant in the Introducing MY World 360° idea development workshop shares her neighbors pitch for a 360° immersive experience.

The response at the Festival and since the MY World 360° call to action has been overwhelming. Throughout our three days in Bonn, we saw how immersive storytelling can help people learn and empathize with experiences different than their own. It was gratifying to see festival attendees share our passion for youth making a difference through 360° film and photography, and we are so excited to herald the coming of new youth voices in the fight to accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ready to support young people in your community to share their perspectives and communities and inspiring positive action on issues they care about? Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Join MY World 360° – This global campaign supports youth worldwide to create 360° media sharing their perspectives and advancing positive action toward the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Read more and get involved.
  • Use the 360° Production Guide in your classroom – This comprehensive guide includes classroom activities and student-facing resources for creating original immersive media products, including 360° video and photography.
  • View student-produced 360° stories – Check out student films and behind the scenes short docs from the 360 Filmmakers Challenge, which worked to inspire high school students from across the country as creators of virtual reality stories.

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