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The mere mention of cyberbullying fills me with fear. I worry about its prevalence and the impact it has on young people. I especially worry about what my daughters might experience in a few short years from now. Bullying was an issue when I was a kid but online harassment adds a whole new level of complexity that didn't exist back then.

Despite my worries, I feel optimistic since learning about a cyberbullying project by Mozilla Hive Toronto along with community partners YWCA Toronto and Youth Empowering Parents (YEP). This project, called Ca.pture, was funded by CIRA's Community Investment Program and is youth-led, giving it an authenticity I like.

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Ca.pture was designed and implemented by the Ca.pture Youth Council made up of 12 teenagers between the ages of 13-17. The council held several initial workshops to discuss and better understand cyberbullying, self-care and safe spaces. They also learned coding skills to capture their experiences online. Using open-source web tools such as Thimble, the council designed and created workshops and a facilitation resource to share the stories of Greater Toronto Area teens and how to build safer spaces in the community. Council members delivered workshops to their peers and later shared what they developed with educators in their community.

When grade 12 student Erum Hasan was asked what made her want to be a part of the Ca.pture Youth Council she responded, "I've realized the gap in services when it comes to cyberbullying intervention and prevention and I wanted to be part of a community project that would address this issue."

Fellow council member Aïssata Hann, age 16, noted that she wanted to design a tool that would allow her to help and connect with other youth. Aïssata had an opportunity to do just that during a March Break camp where workshops were delivered by teens for teens.

Erum summed up her feelings about Ca.pture in this blog post, which included a few insights from other council members.

In the final stage of the project, the youth council shared what they learned with educators in their community and reversed the traditional top-down system of education. This acknowledges the need to involve youth at every stage giving power to their experiences. The facilitation guide is now available online.

I appreciate that youth were not only involved in Ca.pture, but the leaders of the project. Their voices were heard loud and clear and they produced and delivered the tools needed to empower others to create a safer online environment. I'm proud that CIRA supported such a valuable project on an increasingly important issue.

To date CIRA has supported 100 projects with over $4.2 million in contributions. Learn more about CIRA's Community Investment Program here.