Flow Foundation invests $1.5m in safe Internet school programme
The Flow Foundation has announced a yearlong series of activities to promote online safety, led by a $1.5 million Safer Internet Grant to promote online safety in high schools. Chairman of the Flow Foundation, and vice president and general manager of Flow Jamaica, Stephen Price, made the announcement at a press conference on Tuesday, January 31 at the AC Hotel. The school grant forms part of the Flow Foundation’s new safer Internet awareness campaign, ‘#ConnectedandProtected’, which was inspired by the 20th anniversary of Safer Internet Day – globally recognised on February 7 annually.
Price noted that ‘#ConnectedandProtected’ underscores the importance of championing online safety while providing creative licence for students to develop their own ideas.
“Flow is empowering schools to actively participate in the safer Internet movement, as we have all seen the growing importance of online safety, especially for our teens,” Price stated.
“We’re excited about this grant and the creative ideas that we know our young people will bring to life as we embed the online safety culture that is necessary to safeguard our people. With this programme, Flow and the Flow Foundation are embodying one of our philosophies that states, ‘Our work has purpose and what we do makes a difference’.”
To qualify for the Safer Internet Grant, high schools must submit a written and video proposal to the Flow Foundation on how they would promote Internet safety in the school. Six institutions will be selected by a judging panel, and each school will be eligible for up to $250,000 to implement their idea by April 30.
Each school is permitted one entry, which should be mailed to email@example.com. Submissions close on Tuesday, February 21, 2023.
Flow and the Flow Foundation have been leading advocates for online safety where users learn how to treat with threats, avoid physical, emotional and financial harm in the online space, and how to treat with same if victimised. Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Daryl Vaz commended Flow’s ‘#ConnectedandProtected ’initiative, noting that online safety messaging requires a sustained voice from all stakeholders.
“I am delighted to have the ministry again collaborating with Flow on its online safety awareness initiative, in an effort to amplify messages about the benefits of being a digital citizen and ways we can stay connected and protected,” Minister Vaz said. “I commend Flow as they continue to identify opportunities for engagement and empowerment and actively try to make a difference.”
Meanwhile, acting United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative for Jamaica, Vicente Teran, said, this year, UNICEF will be conducting an in-depth study to better understand the prevalence of online abuse and the best solutions.
“UNICEF is currently conducting more comprehensive research to gather up-to-date, national-level data on Internet use by children between the ages of 9 and 17 years. The main aim of this Jamaican Kids Online study is to examine children’s overall digital experiences, and it seeks to uncover the nature and prevalence of online abuse and exploitation,” said Teran.
He added: “We are already in discussions with partners on how the results of the research can be utilised to design public awareness messages and programmes to improve online safety.”
Following Tuesday’s launch, next on the calendar is the Safer Internet Youth Summit on February 7 at the Karl Hendrickson Auditorium, which will feature a diverse group of students, digital content creators, media personalities and a psychologist to explore how online safety impacts our youth. This will be followed by a Senior’s Forum on February 21.
Other ‘#ConnectedandProtected’ safer Internet activities include a student ambassador programme from March to May, parents’ sessions in the summer, and a seniors’ sensitisation programme, from September to November.