Celebrities back young person's mission to bridge the generational divide

From music, fashion and everyday trivia, to the big issues that impact young people today ‘ a revolutionary new online Q&A service will reveal what young people really think.

The O2 backed website, the brainchild of 22 year old Londoner Sabian Muhammad, will allow adults to quiz youngsters at the click of a mouse and find out anything and everything about young people and what they really think.

The one of a kind service inspired by the generation gap follows a recent survey[1] commissioned by O2 which revealed the extent of the chasm between young and old. The polling, which looked at adults attitudes to young people in the local community, highlighted a trend for adults to typecast young people in the role of the villain:

ú         Only 20% of adults thought that young people care about their community

ú         Almost half (46%) of adults believe that, if given the opportunity, young people would squander money earmarked for the local community on themselves

ú         19 per cent of adults believed that if a young person was tasked with running a community project, they would fail

The creator of the celebrity backed Why Do campaign, Sabian, hopes the launch of the innovative free online Q&A service will help explode many of the myths, misconceptions and inaccurate stereotypes which follow young people.

Sabian hit upon the idea of creating the unique online service while working as a volunteer youth worker in London. With funding and support from O2’s Think Big programme, which is designed to back inspiring young people, Sabian was able to turn his idea into a fully fledged, nationwide service. 

Run entirely by young people, the Why Do website will give adults a unique insight into young people today, from music, fashion and everyday trivia, to the big issues that impact young people, adults will be able to log on to whydo.co.uk and quiz young people.

Once submitted, questions are sent out to the Why Do young advisors ‘ a team of 50 young people aged between 16 and 25 who are ready to help adults understand a little more about young people and what really makes them tick.  Within a few short hours responses are posted on whydo.co.uk.

Sabian Muhammad, the young campaigner backed by O2 Think Big, said:
‘My experience of working with young people as a volunteer convinced me that something had to be done to bridge the generation gap and challenge inaccurate ‘hoodie’ stereotypes.  I knew I wanted to step in and do something to help adults understand young people better, but I didn’t have the resources to bring my Why Do idea to life.  It wasn’t until I received backing from Think Big that I could turn my idea into a reality.’

Bill Eyres Head of Sustainability at O2, said: ‘We believe in young people. Through our Think Big programme we’re committed to backing young people, like Sabian, with funding and support to help them tackle the issues that really matter to them.’

He continued: ‘It’s often all too easy to buy into stereotypes about young people and write them off.  But that’s not the reality. Sabian’s unique Why Do service will combat misunderstandings about young people, promote better understanding between the generations, and hopefully take a big step towards bridging the generation gap.’

The Why Do campaign is being backed by 62 year old former Eastender and star of Gavin and Stacey Larry Lamb and 22 year old N-Dubz singer Tulisa.  Each with their own views and opinions about each other’s generations, the unlikely double act have teamed up to champion the launch of Why Do.

O2 Think Big ambassador and actor Larry Lamb, said:

‘As you get older, it can be hard to relate to and understand young people and easy to feel out of touch. Why Do allows you to ask questions direct to young people in an anonymous environment ‘ it’s a great way to keep yourself engaged with young people and ultimately will help to bridge the gap between generations.’

O2 Think Big ambassador and hip-hop star Tulisa, said:

‘Perceptions of young people are more often than not way off the mark. I saw it as a kid growing up in north London and I still see it today. People take one look at the way young people dress, the way they talk, the music they listen to and they label them in a certain way. When older generations don’t understand young people, I imagine it can all seem quite threatening, Why Do aims to break down those barriers and help build understanding.’

The Think Big programme exists to champion young people and showcase the positive role they play in society. The five million pound scheme, which launched this year, is open to all young people aged 13-25. To find out more and apply online visit www.o2thinkbig.co.uk.Think Big has been developed in conjunction with two of the UK’s leading youth charities, National Youth Agency and UK Youth, and with the support of the Telefonica Foundation.


[1] Source: YouGov Survey of 2,000 Adults (July 2010)