Giving Voice

Friday, 12 April 2013

Giving Voice Harlem Shake...Newcastle

I’d like to welcome a guest blogger to my blog today. Poppy Welsh is a final year student at Newcastle University and in this blog she explains how she helped organize a brilliant Giving Voice Harlem Shake...
Hello, I’m Poppy, and in this blog I’d like to tell you how Sophie Herbert, my housemate and fellow SLT student,  and I, created the first Giving Voice Harlem Shake which has so far been viewed by over 3,700 people.
In February 2013 we had an inspirational talk from RCSLT about applying for jobs and encouraging us to participate in the Giving Voice campaign. We were inspired by the success students at other universities had experienced for the campaign - most of all Queen Margaret University  who have achieved an impressive 10,000+ views for their Call Me Maybe parody using AAC – and wanted to organise something ourselves!
The Newcastle students put our heads together and started to think about what we could do. At the same time, cyber space was being bombarded with videos of various renditions of the “Harlem Shake”; a somewhat mysterious song which, like many internet phenomena appeared to come out of nowhere! I thought this would be a perfect opportunity for Newcastle students to ‘Give Voice’.
With most Harlem Shakes only 30 seconds long it seemed perfect for a flashmob-type way of raising awareness of the campaign.
King George VI Building, Newcastle University
There was a great response from Newcastle students about this idea and we really wanted to get it done as soon as possible: mostly while the Harlem Shake was still on trend, but there was the additional factor of wanting to create a Giving Voice Harlem Shake before another university beat us to it! So we made a facebook event, booked a lecture theatre within the appropriately named King George VI building where Speech and Language Therapy is based, and encouraged SLT students to take part. We asked people to bring as many items of fancy dress items as possible (preferably pink, the Giving Voice colour), and also to make Giving Voice style speech bubbles with short SLT-related words or phrases which would show up on the video. We also informed all the staff in the department of what we were doing, and invited them along.
The day itself went really well; although Sophie and I carrying a Space Hopper and loads of posters/speech bubbles down a busy main road was interesting! Plenty of students turned up and many students had put a lot of effort into their fancy dress and speech bubbles. Some of the words included on the speech bubbles were “PECS”, “STROKE”, “NEONATAL”, “AAC” and many more.
The idea behind the Harlem Shake is pretty simple. The “original” dancer must be wearing some sort of mask (so as a keen scuba diver, I donned my wetsuit, fins, mask and snorkel!) and should dance completely alone and ignored for the first section of the video. During this time, the other students were sat at the desks reading books (including dysphagia, aphasia, and phonetics) and copies of the Bulletin. The filming was then stopped and all the other students got changed into their fancy dress. When filming restarted, everyone danced and waved their speech bubbles around. We had some great costumes, including a pirate, an 80s raver, and Sophie the space-hopping golfer! It took a couple of goes before we had the perfect video, but in the end we were all very pleased with the final result.
Luckily I have fairly good editing skills and Sophie and I had our video edited, captioned and published on YouTube less than two hours after filming.  We decided to keep the video as short a possible hoping it would have a greater impact when viewed, so referred people to if they wanted to find out more. But creating the video was the easy part; the biggest challenge was ensuring the video was seen by as many people as possible to raise awareness of the campaign.
 We shared the video in a number of different ways. All Newcastle SLT students (not just those who participated) were asked to share the video with their families, friends, colleagues, Clinical Educators (past and present), and as many other people they could think of.  We also shared the video on facebook and twitter including Newcastle University facebook groups; as well as SLT-related companies and charities who we are very grateful to for sharing the video. We then watched as the view count quickly grew from 0 to 1000 just a few hours after publishing, getting excited every time the view count hit another milestone!
We also informed RCSLT of our video and we were very proud when they chose to show it as part of the “What’s next for your campaign?” talk by Ele Buckley and Emma Barnes at the 2013 National Student Day: it wasn’t easy resisting dancing around in the lecture theatre as we had done in the video!
It was difficult not to feel competitive when other universities created Giving Voice Harlem Shake videos. But what was easy to remember was the whole point of the video: to raise awareness of Giving Voice. In total, all the Giving Voice Harlem Shakes have had almost 8,000 views (with Newcastle’s version accounting for over 40% of these!), and we’re proud that we have been able to have some sort of impact on the campaign. We hope that Newcastle University Speech and Language Sciences students continue to have and enjoy active involvement in the campaign.
Our advice for other students hoping to raise awareness in a similar way is don’t be shy, be imaginative, and make the most of social media to publicise what you have done. But most of all (as with every other aspect of Speech and Language Therapy!), teamwork is essential! We couldn’t have made the video, let alone reached 3,700+ views without the help of all the students who participated.

Hope you enjoyed reading, if you haven’t already, please watch and share our video!

Poppy Welsh (on behalf of all the Newcastle University SLT Harlem Shakers!)
Well done Newcastle (and all the other students who have created a Harlem Shake video to promote Giving Voice!)
Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives

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