max & antonia story
changemakers and workbook
a gift to young people, school teachers
and youth workers around the world
About the story
Changemakers is a fast paced, action and emotion packed story.
Max and Antonia are from different backgrounds but holding out for what they want from life. Nothing ever seems simple because nothing ever is! The very people who should support and help, seem caught up in their own dramas. Even friends betray you if their dreams are at risk of being trampled on.
Max has friends, some money, and dreams of success. But taking responsibility for how he got here leaves him alone, facing unemployment, guilt - and even prison.
Antonia has success in a song contest, but she feels alone. Her father is not there for her. She is famous, but all the money and fame in the world can’t buy her the love she desperately craves.
In a story filled with dark challenges and disastrous decisions these two young people and their friends begin to realize that they can change to outcome of their situation for themselves - in fact ultimately they are the only ones who can make change in their own lives or in the communities they live with.
The issues raised in will be familiar to many young people and adults who work with them. At the back of the book there is space for the reader's own reflection and record of their change journey and questions to instigate discussion around the major personal challenges that each chapter holds.
Written by Rachel Rouncefield & Morten Toft and co-created with young people from across Europe and from Global Changemakers, this action-packed story is sure to make you think, laugh, cry and ultimately take its theme of change-making and act for yourself.
”Never give up your dreams and goals in life - even if you meet resistance on the way”
Seven Years of Co-Creation
Then we started to talk to young people about the dilemmas and issues that mattered to them. We ran workshops using Forum Theatre and Thought sharing techniques. We ran story development sessions to ensure our characters were realistic and relatable. In short, we co-created with young people to come finally to the “Changemakers” story we have produced.
See video from first Co-creation workshop 2012 together with 20Twenty Theatre in UK.
Just listen to the young people in the recording.
"Every community needs one of these projects. It could kind of save them" Millie, 14 (UK)
A Message from the Authors
We have all stood at a point in the path where a decision is needed. Adult and young person alike. Big and small decision alike. For some, making the decision of which path to follow, which actions to take, is paralysing. For others, they’ll start off down a chosen route only to turn and run back to where they started when things get tricky. Some step forward with an enthusiasm to experience the adventures ahead; others walk in the direction parents, friends or colleagues have instructed them to go. Very few know exactly the outcome waiting at the end of the path, but they do imagine what it might be – dream or nightmare.
To write Changemakers, Morten and I worked through a series of workshops with adults and young people in a process called co-creation. This wasn’t the first time we’d worked together. Much of our practice has developed from an empowerment project we developed together called The Butterfly Project (more on that metaphor later) and from our own experience as enabling and empowering youth workers over the past twenty-five to thirty years.
Although what you have just read is fiction, many, many aspects of the work were based on the true-life experiences and the challenges and dilemmas of those workshop participants.
We hope that what started out as a story will transverse into a world where young people are:
Regarded as valuable human beings.
Supported to follow their dreams and visions (as best other people can manage).
Empowered to make decisions about their lives, and understand that every action has consequences.
To have others available and willing to advocate for them and protect them when necessary.
We believe this is the least young people deserve, and that the most they deserve is restricted only by the limits they put on themselves.
Today, there is significant pressure on young people in Western societies: pressure to succeed, to be popular, to achieve and then achieve some more. Some of the early readers of Changemakers, felt that the dilemmas and challenges facing our main characters in the story were perhaps overblown and too dramatic. However, everything has been inspired by the realities many of our co-creators faced in their lives.
In Changemakers, we have included a workbook of sorts, which we hope you will use to start a dialogue – with a friend, a supporter, an adult or yourself. By considering the questions within each chapter, we have found that some powerful and interesting dialogues are possible. These are not always easy or comfortable, but they seem to have always led to something enlightening, empowering and invaluable.
We say believe in your dreams, believe that you can and believe that you will. If you find yourself surrounded by dream-tramplers, give them a swift “kick in the ass” and seek out dream-supporters instead. These may be found in all sorts of quarters, from your friends, your family, maybe a youth worker or supportive adult. Be aware that although “shit happens”, it is possible to turn a situation around into a kind of gift, or an opportunity to learn something and grow from the experience. Be ultra-aware that everything you think, say or do has some impact on what happens next. Even if you sit in a chair and do nothing, there’s a consequence to that. What you place your focus on will expand to fill the available space in your life. Therefore, take care when focusing. A label you are given (or that you give yourself) can be lived up to, or proven false. If you are dyslexic, you can write a book.
Finally, never, ever give up on your dreams. You may need a loving kick to get started on them – a gentle easing out of their cocoon before they can fly and bring help and value to others around you (I told you we’d be back to the butterfly metaphor, didn’t I?) – Or you may still need to hold on to them, safe in their cocoon for a while, not wishing to force them out too soon. But sooner or later, hopefully with the help of this story and the questions that follow, you will start to see them shape and grow and develop. After all, you are a changemaker, and you have the power to create, share and celebrate your own stories and your own dreams.
THE PEOPLE BEHIND CHANGEMAKERS
Authors, Educators, Facilitators of Change, and Global Empowerment Agents for Young People.
RACHEL ROUNCEFIELD worked for many years with Young People’s Services in the UK, where she managed to integrate local youth services and reduce youth unemployment in an area where young people faced difficulty and disadvantage. Rachel now teaches and writes reality-based fiction and plays for young adults.
MORTEN TOFT has a background in personal development, innovation, leadership and change. He is also the author of several books and holds lectures and courses on these subjects. Morten was part of the Butterfly Project in England and Humor &Health (now Danish Hospital Clowns), two other successful community service organizations. He says:
“All people have a talent, a greater potential and the opportunity to make a difference in the community, in their own lives and those of others. The question is how to find it, and use it.”
Mission is to strengthen the self-esteem of young people & to empower and support them in becoming CHANGEMAKERS.
Give young people a new opportunity to make a difference -because anybody can make a difference no matter what their background, past and current situation.
EMPOWERING young people to make a difference; In their own life, In other people’s lives, In the local community, In their city, In their country, In their world.
To create and bring the CHANGEMAKERS concept to millions of young people around the world.
That in the first place consists of:
To bring the novel CHANGEMAKERS to schools and colleges all over the world.
To continue the co-creation process with young people that has already started a Changemaker movement.
To create three additional short stories. This story process has powerful long-term potential.
Interactive teaching material and school package
We also want to develop and sell Changemakers as a "school package" of teaching materials. These would cover:
1. Working with the questions in the book and considering the relevant dilemmas.
2. Working with local communities having discussed the local community issues (mapping) and what young people can do about these in partnership locally.
3. Working with self. Changing their individual life story and Going for their dreams and goals in life.
4. Work towards sharing ideas and mini-creative projects to build the characters , dilemmas and world for Changemakers 2.
We have already run a number of successful pilot projects relating to these activities with teachers and students. Participants found them engaging and relevant to their own lives.
After all, Changemakers is also a coaching and involvement tool. And should be used to create new self-awareness and ACTION!
We want to create a compelling film which can strengthen the rising tide of CHANGEMAKERS around the world.
We want to create a film that is part of a positive movement and contains hidden/Informal education and wisdom. Films are means that are used for larger purposes.
All young people have the right to be a changemaker – for themselves, their community, locally or globally. This right is not altered by their particular background or a particular set of negative behaviours, by advantage or disadvantage. It is universal.
We seek to empower and enable young people to create change and seek support to deal with issues and dilemmas in their lives, and to consider what difference they can also make for others.
Loneliness and Boredom can lead to extreme negative situations. We fight to enable the opposite for young people – positive activity, involvement, engagement and inclusion – making a difference where they wish.
Never give up on your dreams – even if you meet resistence (including your own) along the way.
Failure is always a potential learning opportunity.
We recommend creativity – always! Exploration of the Max & Antonia story ( itself co-created with young people) and its principles has been undertaken with young people through all of the following: Forum Theatre, Playwrighting, Drama workshopping, Poetry, Graphic illustration, Role play, Song creation, Film making, Photo -collage, Drawing & Painting.
All adults also have a responsibility to engage in dialogue with young people wherever possible as a support to creating change in their lives. We can always have a conversation.
With all of the above in mind we seek to ”do something about it”, ” take action” and ”be responsible” ( i.e. respond + ability).
what is a changemaker?
Someone who makes a change for the better.
Someone who takes “response … ability”.
Someone who can find a place in their sphere of influence where they can ACT to make a difference.
Someone who uses what they are good at to change something for others in the community.
Someone who understands that talking about doing something is only a beginning, and that taking ACTION is what takes it forward.
Someone who has respect for themselves, others and nature.
Someone who can find a place in a team with other people.
Someone who focuses on what they want to see happen, rather than on what they don’t want to see happen. They know that what they focus on expands.
Someone who inspires and empowers others by their own example.
Someone who includes rather than excludes. They may begin by being included by others and then go on to include others as part of the development.
Someone who sees mistakes and failures as potential learning opportunities.
Someone who use self-confidence and courage to suggest possible actions for change.
Someone who feels valuable and worthy, knowing they are making a difference.
IS THIS JUST FOR YOUNG PEOPLE?
Changemakers is written as a young adult novel; the main characters are in their early adulthood and it has themes and issues often brought up in young people’s co-creation workshops that happened as part of the story development. However adults, parents, carers and those who have been young at some point in their lives have also read drafts of the novel and fed back that they too find the story inspiring for them and that it has helped them understand and converse with young people they live with – so watch out they may steal your copy!