Jo(e) Social Media is opening a Youth Creative in the heart of downtown Lacombe which they hope will help nurture the online entrepreneurial dreams of kids.
”We developed the Jo(e) Youth Creative because we have been speaking in schools for about four years and one of the repeated themes was that kids lacked mentorship as far as opportunities in social media. We decided to develop the Youth Creative as a place they can come to learn all of that and be supported, rather than being told it is stupid,” Jo Phillips, co-owner of Jo(e) Social Media said.
Phillips and her business partner Joe Whitbread would often see kids aspirations of being a YouTube star, a TikTok creator or a Twitch streamer go unappreciated by adults. To them, wanting to be a social media star is no different than kids wanting to be rockstars, Hollywood actors or professional athletes.
“We are introducing Jo(e) Youth Creative, which is a place where there is an opportunity to mentor kids in entrepreneurship opportunities within social media platforms they are using, but have no guidance in,” Whitbread said.
The Youth Creative is designed to be a free service for young people, with funding coming from community partnerships and sponsorships.
“We operate as a social enterprise and we have a side of our business that generates income. A piece of that income goes towards supporting programs. We rely on community partnerships and we will be seeking that out once we can get this space going in the way it is meant to be,” Phillips said.
One potential future partnership is with Lacombe’s Mary C. Moore Public Library.
“We are working on a joint digital literacy program with them, along with a makerspace. They will provide the digital resources and run reading programs and then the kids will come over here and produce digital book reports, public speaking reports and then they will present it over there. They want to develop a youth speaker series,” Phillips said.
The space is also designed to support seniors and other demographics as well.
“This was meant to be a community space. It was designed to be accessible for the the community, where if they wanted to use the training room or digital assets, they could. If they want to a do a Facebook Live they could come here in do it; if they needed space for a function for their organization — they could come here,” she said.
Another aspect of the space would be to create in-person spaces for debates started online.
“Our idea was to have a put your money-where-your-mouth-is space. It can be easy to Tweet back and forth, but why couldn’t we have a Thursday night where two people who don’t necessarily know each other, talk about it in person?,” Whitbread asked.
Phillips said the for-profit side of Jo(e) Social Media will help support the Youth Creative and they are hoping to launch, with restrictions, when Phase 2 of Alberta’s relaunch begins.
“We are excited to see it operate the way it was meant to operate. We know that is probably a couple years away. We appreciate all the support we have for it and we can’t wait to see it in a modified matter. The energy of kids is awesome and we are looking forward to seeing how we can adapt,” Phillips said.
She added, “The Youth Creative will open. It won’t be quite the dream, but it will be close enough.”