Invisible Children: From Grassroots to Mega Movement
You may have heard of Invisible Children. And no, this is nothing from a science-fiction movie.
Invisible Children is a non-profit that benefits children in war-torn Uganda. It began as a grassroots efforts in 2003 when 3 college students set off on an adventure to Uganda. With only a video camera to document their travels, they discovered a 17-year war they had never heard of where children were being forced to be child soldiers.
Their biggest observation was witnessing hundreds of children marching every night, miles upon miles, from their homes in the country to Gulu in hopes of avoiding being forced into the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army). The children shared their stories with the students about their nightly commute and the struggles they face everyday. What came through clear, was that the children wanted more education.
Upon witnessing what they did, the students turned their videos into a documentary and showed it to anyone and everyone. The movement grew into the Global Night Commute , where Americans all over the country walked miles to sleep outside within their own cities, hoping for others to notice the situation in Uganda.
Since the Global Commute, Invisible Children’s movement has grown…a lot. Currently, it has a fully developed website, a visible child scholarship program, a bracelet campaign, Invisible Children Campus Movie Tour bus, teacher exchange program, internships, a world tour and more. For more information on the war or the movement, I highly recommend visiting and browsing the site.
I mention it here for three reasons:
1) I think it’s a great example of how a grassroots movement can go from a few individuals to an international movement…and how a good story, enhanced by media capabilities can be powerful beyond words.
2) I wanted to highlight how collaboration can lead to a more effective campaign and cause. This movement was begun by college students by has even hit the steps of Washington by gaining the interests of the media, policy makers, world leaders, government officials, special interest groups, partnering NGOs and more.
3) I wanted to emphasis the great use of capitalizing on your target and interested audiences. This movement begun by showing the movie at house parties and on college campuses, working to gain that one-on-one interaction combined with powerful stories and powerful media. Also, by targeting college campuses first (especially with Generation M), it made for a strong network to grow the movement. And, for great resources (students) to tap into to also promote the cause – they still believe that anything is possible, have more flexible schedules, want to feel like they matter, want to be the change in the world, have the technology know how, have some education and many other useful attributes…and with Invisible Children working to aide the children of Uganda…this is an audience college students can more closely relate towards, and as history shows, turned out quite successful.
(You can watch the original Invisible Children video here.)