Instagram & YLAC launch the ‘Counter Speech Fellowship 5.0’

The initiative is meant to put emphasis on mental health and other critical issues in the age of virtual learning

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: May 26, 2021 1:32 PM  | 3 min read

Instagram, in association with the Young Leaders for Active Citizenship (YLAC), today launched the 2021 edition of their flagship youth program - the Counter Speech Fellowship. In the current environment, the program will give special emphasis on mental health and other critical issues, at a time when virtual learning has become the new normal. 

The Counter Speech Fellowship engages creative teens to use the power of visual storytelling to start meaningful conversations on issues that are important to young citizens around the world. This includes bullying, diversity, mental wellbeing and gender equality. The program is in its fifth year now, and has been designed keeping in mind the current circumstances. 

Tara Bedi, Public Policy and Community Outreach Manager, Instagram, India, said, “Instagram is a place for safe expression and over the past few months especially, we've seen how our community has used the platform to help and support each other. With teens spending more time online and using the internet as a space for learning, it's even more important for us to inculcate healthy digital habits, to teach teens to be critical about the information they consume and share, and to use online spaces for positive self-expression. We're excited to launch the fifth edition of the Counter Speech Fellowship that helps teens address mental health and wellbeing, bullying, gender equality and embracing diversity, and empowers teens to become advocates for online safety and positive expression."

Aparajita Bharti, Co-Founder, YLAC, said, “The internet and online social networks have been a force for good during this pandemic. They have helped us continue our learning and stay engaged with others even as we are physically separated. The Counter Speech Fellowship is our attempt to empower teenagers to use these platforms effectively and to leverage their power for personal growth development while building supportive communities. By giving teens a voice and building their capacity to mobilize people, we hope to shape the leaders of tomorrow. In its fifth year now, the fellowship has been a great collaboration with Instagram and we are glad to be partnering with them again. ”

The fellowship is designed as a fully-funded engagement wherein fellows meet every alternate week for a couple of hours. The overall duration of the fellowship is two months and has been designed as a virtual engagement to accommodate constraints imposed by COVID-19. All sessions will be conducted online and the program is open to all 13 to 18-year-old students currently enrolled in a school in India. The last date for applications is May 31st, 2021.

 The Counter Speech Fellowship was first launched in 2017 and has since expanded to several cities in India.

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