Get in the rhythm

17 July 2015

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HAVE you ever watched young people spend hours on their phones or tablets, and thought that they could be making better use of their time tackling injustice and engaging in social action?

Well, now they could be doing both, thanks to the Rhythms app from Tearfund. Designed for young people, Rhythms is a useful way to learn about poverty and injustice while taking steps to do something about it.

It is described as “a place full of ideas, inspiration, and motivation to #LiveDifferent”, and includes readings, videos, and actions. Users earn points for completing an action or a reading, and can share these on Facebook and Twitter to create a “rhythm” of actions. In addition to individual points, the Rhythms app has a weekly “community goal” as a motivational device.

Current “actions” range from spending a day saying only nice things about people, signing a petition about the Syrian crisis, and organising a clothes-swap. It says: “We find security in our stuff. What we wear allows us to fit in with whatever style or image we’re going for. . . Clothes swaps are a great place to make a small change because we’re starting by being open-handed with our friends.”

There are also community-wide actions, which recently included a challenge not to buy bottled water for a week. “Buying bottled water doesn’t make sense,” the app says. “This week, don’t buy any — gone for a week? Why not stick at it?”

More complicated actions include overseas visits “to make poverty personal”. It says that overseas visits should be seen as a pilgrimage: “You leave what is comfortable and familiar, journey to a new place and possibly new people, you meet with God — you change.”

It offers advice on government-funded placements and self-funded trips to locations as diverse as Bolivia, Burundi, Peru, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, and Zambia; and offers app points for undertaking a visit as well as for separate related activities, including giving a talk about it to a church, youth group, or school; telling friends about the experience; and creating a prayer diary for your church to pray for you while you’re away.

There is also a range of reading material provided on the app. Recent articles include Andrew Forsythe on making marriage better; Sarah Wiggins on indifference to poverty; and Richard Gower on radical generosity.

Besides the Rhythms app, which is available in the App Store for iOS (iPhones and iPads), and in the Google Play Store for Android phones and tablets, Rhythms is also available on a dedicated website: www.rhythms.org.

Users can log actions or readings on either, and the data will be across their devices, allowing them to keep track of their actions and readings wherever they are.

Rhythms comes across, in part, as quite simplistic. But, in encouraging young people to engage with social justice and poverty issues, it has probably pitched its content and style at just the right level.

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