Published in inter•visions, the newsletter of the Boston Film and Video Foundation.

Youth on the Scene

Tired of misrepresentation in the media, Boston youth are fighting back in constructive and creative ways.

Not too long ago, the terms "youth" and "the media" would conjure up images of a teen pedaling by houses at breakneck speed while hurling the daily newspaper at neighborhood doorsteps with a resounding thwack. In this age of interactive multimedia, today's youth are more involved than ever in interpreting the world they live in and communicating their points of view. Various teen media programs in the Boston area include on-line publications, film and video production and broadcasting. Teens are heavily involved in each stage of development from story development and script-writing to post-production.

One media program in the area is The Youth Voice Collaborative (YVC), whose self-defined role is to "... support the use of media by youth to simplify their voices and magnify their roles as contributing members of the community." Sponsored by the YWCA Boston in collaboration with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, the Patriot Trail Girl Scout Council, and the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, the YVC's goal is to eliminate the scapegoating teens have been subjected to since Elvis first wiggled his infamous pelvis and the Beatles were called long-haired freaks. Tired of misrepresentation in the media, teens in the Youth Media Collaborative are fighting back in constructive and creative ways.

The YVC is also instrumental in preparing young people for the future. A current ongoing project is the Putnam Video Project, headed by Ann Manubay. Manubay describes the project as a 15-minute promotion about "young people's transition into the workforce." It details helpful career building skills such as creating a solid resume, networking skills, and of course, how to survive the dreaded interview process. The ultimate goal of this project, funded by Putnam Investments, is to build confidence as well as prepare kids for the reality of the difficulties and obstacles that one must overcome to enter the working world.

An innovative, alternative media project at Somerville Community Access Television, known as the Mirror Project, has taken youth media to great heights - from awards at the New England Film and Video Festival to an upcoming multimedia exhibit at the DeCordova Museum. "For the past six years, the Mirror Project has worked with inner-city teenagers, mostly at the housing projects in Somerville. They create videos that reflect their lives, and, in doing so, begin to discover things about themselves and their world," says Project Director Roberto Arevalo. So far, young people in the Mirror Project have produced over 100 videos.

Another youth media project is the annual Youth Media Festival which is sponsored by the Cambridge Arts Center. Teens are involved in making films for the festival which are screened at the Kendall Square Cinema. Tania Valverde, age 19, has been involved with the CAC for 6 years. "It was a positive experience," Valverde said. "We learned stuff we never would've learned anywhere else, for example, we learned how to use all of the equipment at CCTV [Cambridge Community Television]. We also wrote a grant to TCP [Teens as Community Resources], visited Avid Technology headquarters, and we received donations from various other companies."

Other programs include summer broadcasting programs for teens held at Emerson College and Boston College. Youthreach, sponsored by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, also has several ongoing teen media projects. The Voice, Teen Voices and the Twenty First Century are all on-line publications where youth discuss important social issues such as racism, violence and the influence of the media on our everyday lives. Mauricio Cordero, educational director of the Teen Decent Program at the Institute of Contemporary Art says, "It is time to turn the media over to young hands and minds." His goal is to teach young people communication skills to express themselves. These skills are necessary for a generation tired of being lectured to and told what to think and what to feel. All of these programs have this central theme: helping teens find their collective voice as well as helping them express their individuality.


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