Olympia—Partners Needed for a Youth Event

Talking with a number of young people in Olympia in informal settings, I recently discovered there is a desire for a youth leadership training for them. However, without money to attend, these “nontraditionally engaged” youth don’t feel like they can do it. So I’m going to pull together a one-day youth action training here in Olympia focused on The Freechild Project Youth Action Kit.

Right now I’m calling for volunteers and partner orgs for this one day event at the end of June.
WHY
Provide nontraditional youth leaders the opportunity to build their skills and knowledge on how to change the world.
WHAT/WHEN 
In late June 2013, I am going to facilitate a one-day, nine-hour training for youth and adults focused on youth leadership in changing the world. This is a skill-building, knowledge-sharing event that will increase participants’ abilities to successfully take action for social change. The main target group is local youth of all stripes from the Thurston County area. 
This will be a hands-on, interactive, fun event that focuses on actual action to change the world. I do not talk down to youth, and I’m not a hype-man; instead, I facilitate practical, meaningful action by young people working with adults as partners. The goal of the training is to promote youth engagement in practical, powerful, and positive social change.
WHO
  • Up to 100 participants will be accepted to come individually or in groups.
  • There is no cost to participate, and there are NO requirements beyond pre-registration. 
  • Certificates can be given that designate the number of hours attended and topics covered.
  • Youth ages 12 to 19 will be invited directly.
  • Local youth-serving programs and organizations will be invited.
  • Adult allies of all kinds, including teachers, parents, youth workers, counselors, business people, elected officials, government workers, and others will be invited to attend.
WHERE 
TBD. Suggestions are welcome.
YOUR ROLE 
Freechild needs co-sponsors for this event. I am facilitating it for free and I’m 
not collecting any fees. I invite YOU and your organization to provide any of the following:
  • Participants
  • Logistical support
  • Location 
  • Event planning
  • Food
  • Promotion
  • Flip chart paper
  • Markers
  • Photocopies & printing
  • Give-aways
  • ?????
TOPICS
The topics for this training are still being determined, but will definitely cover how to organize Youth Action as I’ve written in The Freechild Project Youth Action Kit. They may also cover topics from The Freechild Project Youth Engagement Workshop Guide, which is focused on youth taking action to change the world.
QUESTIONS
  • What do I get for partnering? If you choose to partner with me for this event, I will include your logo on materials and acknowledge your org or business during the event.
  • How often will this happen? Its a one-time training.
  • How much does it cost? Its free.
  • Is there a program supporting it? This event is not program-centered.
  • What is it going to cover? This is a general skill-building and knowledge-sharing training event, and not a train-the-trainer event.
  • What are the outcomes? It may inspire participants to go out and take action in the community, and they’ll received materials to support that. It may inspire participants to change their own lives. It might just be fun for a day.
  • Are there other programs doing this? WASC, based in Oly, offers a statewide student leadership training statewide program doesn’t reach the generally disengaged youth population of the area. Voices of Youth is program-driven youth voice with a specific agenda focused on school health.
  • Why do you think you can do this? I have trained thousands of youth in hundreds of topics for more than a decade, and have developed youth leadership development programs in 50 communities nationwide. Learn more about me at my website.
  • Is there any real need for this beyond a few youths’ opinions? I love Oly’s youth programs, and have supported each of them by donating my time and money and volunteering for more. Currently, I know of no programs offered by CYS, GRuB, Together, Stonewall Youth, or the even among the city’s state agenciesthat  provide leadership development for their participants focused on general social change. Instead, they’re all topic-specific, if at all. So yes, there’s a real need, and generally speaking, local nonprofits don’t have the resources or staff to facilitate this kind of training. I’ve also done this 6 times before in Oly.
  • Why do you REALLY want to do this? Basically, I do all this work nationally and want to contribute back to the city I live in by volunteering my time, knowledge, and ability.
  • How can I get involved? Give me a call at (360) 489-9680 or email adam@freechild.org.
  • I’m not from Oly—can I still come? YES! Get in touch. 
  • How can I get this in my city? Contact me.
  • How can I get more info? Sign up for the CommonAction newsletter, the Freechild facebook page, or send me an email.
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Characteristics of Successful Youth Engagement

Ideally, youth engagement happens throughout communities and across society. Youth programs and youth councils are good; but engaging youth at home and throughout regular community places is great. However, the space is not as important as the characteristics of the community.

Working with more than 40 youth engagement practitioners throughout King County for our Youth Engagement Practitioners Cadre over the last two years, I have collected a lot of best practices and tips. Here are some some of the characteristics of successful youth engagement they identified. 
Characteristics of Successful Youth Engagement

Programs are Focused. 

Instead of meandering through purposeless activities and focus-less personal activities, every activity is designed to be a concise, deliberative engagement of multiple intelligences, broad perspectives, and varying experiences. Engaging young people remains the central action throughout the program, and improving the community is the focus of every activity.

Environments are Supportive.

Youth and adults alike are committed to working together without fear of retribution or alienation. All youth are partners with each other and adults in the program, and work together for the common cause of improving communities through youth engagement.
Activities are Engaging.
The experiences, knowledge, ideas, and opinions of youth are validated and substantiated with meaningful learning experiences that infuse community interest with a new capacity to visualize, analyze, create, and engage youth as partners.

Thinking is Critical.

As co-learners within a community of learners, youth provide vital insight in the community improvement process for their peers and adult allies. These democratic interactions are actively encouraged and supported by all members.
Processes are Transparent.
There should be no mysteries about what the purpose of the youth engagement program is, or what the outcomes of the activities will be. The program offers numerous ways to make goals, outcomes, and activities fully understandable to youth.
Decisions are Decentralized.
Youth engagement activities emphasize the common experience of all participants—youth and adults—as co-learners, empowering youth to engage fully throughout the learning process. Decisions affecting every member are made by members of the program—youth and adults—and everyone is held equally accountable and celebrated equally.

The Cadre members taught me that these characteristics combine to create powerful climates for youth engagement. Learn more about the King County Youth Engagement Practitioners Cadre here, and contact me for more information.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

SoundOut Workshop Topics

For more than a decade, SoundOut has provided training workshops and professional development for K-12 schools, districts, state and provincial education agencies, and nonprofit organizations concerned with education. 

The following workshops are for teachers, building and district administrators, school support staff, community youth workers, AmeriCorps members, youth-serving nonprofit staff, parents, community members, and students in grades 2 through 12.  All sessions are customized to meet the needs of diverse learners, including differences in learning styles, physical abilities, grade levels and cultural backgrounds, and address specific applications and populations. They can be customized and specialized for a variety of settings and audiences, too!


Focusing on practical examples and current research, workshops explore examples, pragmatic considerations, critical reflections and essential tools on any given topic. Depending on the setting and needs of participants, workshops are interactive, action-focused co-learning spaces that build on the knowledge and experiences participants currently have.


Student Voice 101

This workshop is for participants who want student voice to be heard and want to make it stronger in their schools and communities. After identifying current avenues for student voice in their schools, participants examine broad activities throughout the school that could embrace student voice. Action planning and resource-sharing then enable students to be the change they want to see in the world.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Learn the basics of student voice
  • Examine activities engaging student voice
  • Identify barriers to student voice
  • National PTA Student-Driven Education Policy Advocacy Training, 2010. 
  • Plan practical student voice activities

Advanced Student Voice 

Experienced participants examine a variety of tools designed to foster their critical thinking and project development skills. Participants learn about student voice activities across the nation, and explore particular ways they can implement powerful new approaches to meaningful student involvement throughout education.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Learn critical thinking skills
  • Utilize research-based tools to examine current activities
  • Envision new approaches to engaging student voice
  • Plan practical student voice activities
Student Leadership in Communities 
Participants learn about what skills are essential in community leadership. Skills in communication, cultural awareness, community organizing, and action planning are explored in depth. 

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Examine the purpose, structure and/or outcomes of community either locally, regionally, nationally or internationally
  • Learn practical oral, written and/or verbal communication techniques
  • Explore cultural diversity and cross-cultural engagement
  • Review community organization methods and implementations
  • Create action plans focused on social change
Transforming Learning through Student/Adult Partnerships 
Participants in this workshop learn how to identify adult allies, create meaningful partnerships between youth and adults, and how to challenge discrimination against young people.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Learn about roles for adults as allies to young people
  • Examine student/adult partnerships in action
  • Learn and utilize new vocabulary that builds understanding
  • Articulate a vision for student/adult partnerships
  • Learn about discrimination against young people and analyze its presence in education

Student Equity

Miami middle school students attending a student/adult partnership training, 2011.
What do students think about equity, and how would they change schools to make learning more equitable? This workshop engages participants in learning about equity from other students’ perspectives, and then defining and examining their own. Students then envision “schools of equity” where they can learn, grow and evolve from their perspectives, and compare their findings to the changes currently underway in their schools.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Explore the role of equity throughout education, particularly in leadership
  • Examine equity in relationships between students, educators and other adults
  • Determine opportunities to foster equity throughout the learning environment
  • Analyze potential barriers to effectively equitable relationships

Powerful Learning Projects

Students can and should design powerful projects that clearly demonstrate their learning. Participants in this session identify issues they care about, create dynamic project plans and develop meaning measurements to determine what they learned and how successful they are in their projects.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Learn the basics of powerful learning projects
  • Examine their experiences, environment and ideas for social change
  • Identify how personal perspectives relate to larger social movements
  • Learn about the history of student activism for educational improvement and/or social change
  • Utilize a culturally-responsive action planning process to plan learning projects
  • Develop rubrics for self-usage in order to assess personal performance

Service Learning 101

In this session participants learn the basics of service learning, including essential elements and project planning. After briefly exploring examples from across the country, participants plan projects that meet academic requirements while meaningfully serving their local communities.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Learn the elements of service learning, including curricular connections, student voice, community partnerships, reflection and civic engagement
  • Determine practical applications for service learning in their setting
  • Create service learning plans
  • Develop assessment rubrics

Advanced Service Learning 

Using past experience participating in service learning activities, participants can develop new perspectives to successful projects. This session engages students using powerful tools and specific examples of effective, engaging and empowering service learning projects. Students then conduct critical analyses of their experiences and plan alternative or entirely new approaches to service learning. 

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Learn about social justice, student engagement and/or community connections
  • Reflect on personal experience in service learning activities
  • Examine research-based findings from across the field
  • Explore recent innovations from a variety of settings
  • Design pragmatic and innovation approaches for implementation

Fun, Games and School Change

This session uses cooperative learning activities to help students define group mission, building cohesiveness and plan action. Participants may also learn how to facilitate activities themselves through our unique “transparent training” method.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Participate in activities designed to increase team-building, communication, and problem-solving skills
  • Learn basic activities to implement in other settings
  • Reflect on past experiences in cooperative learning and school change

More than Listening: The Cycle of Student Engagement

In this session participants learn about the Cycle of Student Engagement, a research-driven tool that can serve as a practical guide for student voice. Participants can discover dynamic new applications of student voice in curriculum, classroom management, building leadership and community partnerships.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Identify the differences between current and potential student engagement activities
  • Utilize an action-research process in order to reflect on their experiences
  • Examine potential implementations and practical considerations
  • Apply the tool across broad stakeholder populations

Climbing the Ladder of Student Involvement

From the “How to Engage Disengaged Students” Training
Participants in this workshop learn about the variety of options for involving students throughout schools. Determine whether students. Using research-based tools including rubrics and examples, participants examine current practice in their school and identify new possibilities where students can become partners with adults throughout the education system.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Learn the basics of meaningful student involvement
  • Examine past experience utilizing a tool
  • Develop a rubric to illustrate a range of opportunities within current settings
  • Explore a variety of implementations reflecting personal assumptions

Student-Inclusive School Change 

Participants learn how students can become engaged as partners in school improvement activities. Research demonstrating student successes, examples showing learning efficacy, and anecdotes illustrating impacts are coupled with practical tools that can be utilized throughout schools.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Examine current roles for students in schools
  • Explore stories from around the world reflecting the broad possibilities for student-inclusiveness
  • Determine avenues for inclusiveness within current constraints
  • Envision possibilities beyond current expectations
  • Develop action plans for immediate, short-range and long-term implementation

Exploring Roles for Students in Formal School Improvement Activities

Participants in this workshop explore how to transform learning to meet student needs rather than insisting students meet school needs. Exploring research, practice and personal reflection focused on different ways students can become partners, this session focuses on roles for students from the local classroom to the state school board.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Envision school improvement from the perspectives of students, rather than from those of adults
  • Learn the basics of school improvement
  • Explore current school improvement activities and plans
  • Identify new roles for students within current activities and plans
  • Determine extended possibilities beyond the present

Words as Reflections of Reality 

Seattle Student Engagement Academy, 2012.
This workshop explores the growing body of research that has identified students as the foremost stakeholders in education reform. Participants explore students’ perceptions of school improvement activities from across the nation. Barriers to student voice, strategies for classroom and building-wide success, and general perceptions of schools will all be explored.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Explore students’ perspectives of school, including learning, climate, lifelong aspirations and cultural differences
  • Participate in activities designed to solicit and empower student voice
  • Learn techniques that engage students as equals
  • Identify barriers to student voice and methods to overcome them

Creating School/Community Partnerships

Participants in this workshop explore how partnerships between schools and community organizations can help students graduate and give agencies new volunteer energy that promotes civic engagement. Creating effective partnerships, engaging diverse students, recruiting partners, managing youth volunteers and catalyzing community members can be central topics throughout the session.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Identify the need for school/community partnerships within their experience
  • Explore the range of possibilities for partnerships, including implementation, activities and outcomes
  • Examine important considerations for partnerships
  • Create action plans that utilize partners in a variety of settings

Intergenerational Equity in Schools

Examining the balance of power in classrooms, throughout schools and across the education system, participants in this workshop identify new opportunities for creating student/adult partnerships in schools. Participants also learn about processes for creating intergenerational equity, as well as activities, tools and important considerations.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Learn the basics of intergenerational equity
  • Identify ways to overcome potential barriers
  • Explore avenues and opportunities for fostering intergenerational equity
  • Examine the relationship between intergenerational/social/gender and other forms of equity

Engaging Nontraditional Student Leaders 

SoundOut offers ground-breaking, unique content.
Participants examine the current role of nontraditional student leaders in schools and learn about new avenues for engagement. Using a skill-based focus, participants explore how to create activities, create practical expectations and evaluate performance.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Explore the elements of student leadership
  • Identify nontraditional student leadership within current learning environments
  • Examine examples of meaningfully engaged nontraditional student leadership in multiple settings
  • Learn activities and approaches that foster engagement
  • Develop or co-create nontraditional assessments, including portfolios, presentations and other formats

Decision-Making in Partnerships

Educational decision-making affects students, parents, and educators personally, in classrooms, building-wide, district and state levels everyday without actually engaging all partners in the process. Participants in this workshop examine those decisions and explore new avenues for engaging each other as partners throughout the process.

The goals of this workshop are for participants to:

  • Identify the breadth of possibilities to engage partners in decision-making throughout education
  • Examine research that explores multiple roles for decision-making partners
  • Determine points of disengagement for partners as decision-makers
  • Learn new approaches and avenues that empower partners of all kinds to learn while leading 
To learn more about what we do in schools, visit SoundOut.org or call (360) 489-9680 today!
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Scott Le Duc Is The Most Awesome Facilitator

Scott Le Duc and I have been comrades in arms since 2002, when we shared offices at Generation YES here in Olympia. Since then, we’ve schemed and dreamed, and facilitated together for days at a time across the US. A veteran teacher at Capital High School here in Olympia, I’ve visited his classroom and volunteered for the Olympia School District Career & Technical Education Advisory Committee that he staffs.
You can find a few different biographies of Scott floating around the Internet. One of my favorites
comes from his school website he shares with students:

Scott Le Duc’s Biography

  • 39 years old
  • Career goal is to work as an educator, teaching web publishing, photography and presentation skills
  • I am from Green Bay, Wisconsin
And that’s it.
The biography of Scott on China’s Wuhan University website where he is adjunct faculty is self-written. He says, 

“I have been a learner all of my life. I am an autodidact. So, I am in the right profession.

I currently work at Capital High School as a Career and Technical Educator focusing on art and technology instruction, Generation YES as a curriculum developer and trainer for GenerationYES.com, and Lesley, City and St. Martin’s and Universities as an adjunct faculty working in the Masters in Teaching program. I am also an adjunct faculty of computer science with the Wuhan University of Technology in Wuhan, China.

I conduct a workshop for the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) titled Teaching 2.0. I showcase web 2.0 tools like screencasting, podcasting, wiki’s, blogs, RSS, Tagging, social bookmarks, online social networks, media tools (YouTube Video, Flickr Photo Gallery), great presentation techniques, brain research-based teaching philosophies and tools like Understanding by Design (UBD) mind mapping, project-based learning, total quality learning, arts integration, creativity, productivity and other relevant techniques to help teachers better connect with and instruct students.”

For CommonAction’s promotional materials, I rewrote Scott’s biography. 

Scott Le Duc, CommonAction Consultant, is a master teacher with more than a decade in the classroom at Capital High School in Olympia, Washington. As a career and technical   educator, Scott focuses on art and technology instruction, and also serves as adjunct faculty at Lesley University, City University, St. Martin’s University and Wuhan University of Technology. Scott’s specialties include a variety of technologies, as well as Multiple Intelligences, great presentation techniques, brain research-based teaching philosophies and tools, and other relevant techniques to help people connect with people. Living a life of “relevant reverie,” Scott enjoys effective education, powerful presentations, and collaborative communication, and believes in Gandhi’s message, “My life is my message.”

Scott is one of the most awesome facilitators I have ever meant. His dynamic energy, responsive style, and expert knowledge is refreshing, empowering, and engaging for audiences of all sizes. Working together, I have actually experienced Scott eclipsing my ability by meeting participants’ wants for technological expertise that I cannot. I constantly, consistently, and whole-heartedly commend Scott for his abilities and powers, and I’m completely excited to have him on board with the CommonAction team.
Scott’s links include his websites on Learning Mastery, I Do We Do You Do,  school webpages, and others. 
Check him out, and give a call to the CommonAction office by emailing info@commonaction.org or calling (360) 489-9680 to bring him to your school or organization for training and consulting!
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Youth Engagement Practictioners Cadre 3 (2012-13)

The Youth Engagement Practitioners Cadre (YEPC) was a dynamic professional development program promoting organizational and community transformation. YEPC members were adults with three or more years of youth engagement experience who together form a learning community that met once monthly during the 2012-13 school year. Members developed community collaborations, shared expert knowledge and experiences, and deepened youth engagement practices in their settings and throughout King County, including Seattle and its suburbs.

Throughout the year, Cadre members engaged in projects to deepen, apply and share their knowledge, including individual presentations, job-shadowing, research papers, and public presentations. At the end of the year, Cadre members were recognized for their commitment to their professional development at a countywide youth engagement event. Cadre findings were compiled in a best practices manual for distribution.

The Cadre was managed and facilitated by Adam Fletcher, an internationally-recognized youth engagement expert; along with Teddy Wright, a seasoned youth engagement practitioner and expert facilitator; and Kyla Lackie, a community organizer and program manager for SOAR.

Sponsors included Seattle Public Schools’ Youth Engagement Zone, the Corporation for National and Community Service, SOAR, and CommonAction Consulting.

 

2013 Cadre Members & Organizations

  • Amy Bender, Northwest Center
  • Shawna Boggie, YouthForce at Boys & Girls Clubs of King County
  • Connie Chan, Vietnamese Friendship Association
  • Lauren Cooley, Treehouse
  • Devon de Leña, ArtsCorps
  • Karly Feria, Community Schools Collaboration
  • Chev Gary, YMCA
  • Sean Goode, YMCA
  • Cindy Irwin, Compass Housing Alliance
  • Lizzie Jackson, Nature Consortium
  • Cori Jaeger, Camp Ten Trees
  • Hana Kawai, All Girl Everything Ultimate Program
  • Kayla Mahnke, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Ruel Olanday, Vietnamese Friendship Association
  • Katie Panhorst, College Access Now
  • Sarah Ratermann Beahan Summer Search
  • Amy Salins, New Horizons Ministries
  • Grace Scarella, Nature Consortium
  • Becca Shim, NELA
  • Sarah Waugh, Catholic Community Services Youth Tutoring Program


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Adam Fletcher: Speaker for Hire

After completing a youth speaking program through Omaha’s Urban League when I was 14, I gave my first public speech related to youth. Talking to a neighborhood church about youth in our community, I gave a rousing call to arms for church members to support activities me and my friends by volunteering and with donations.

Ever since then I’ve been charged by getting in front of crowds. From my largest ever speaking engagement to a crowd of 10,000 to support community action to talking to small local groups about youth, social change, personal engagement, and more, there’s nothing as exhilarating to me as being in front of a crowd. I love storytelling, stringing together research and practice, and sharing the examples from my own life and work that make speaking come to life.
After taking a short hiatus from the national speaking circuit, I’ve decided to make myself available to national audiences again. I’m inserting my formal Speaker’s Packet here. It introduces me, details what I talk about, who I’ve spoke to, and shares other details for making decisions about conferences, events, and other occasions that require great speakers.

I’d love to hear what you think of it! Share your thoughts with me? If you do, I’ll give you a discount when you book me! Contact me to talk about the possibilities by emailing adam@commonaction.org or calling (360)489-9680.


Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Activity: Examining Quadrants

Students in deliberation in a
CommonAction issue analysis activity.
Sometimes groups need a concrete method for analyzing the issues they’ve addressed in their goals. Every goal your organization may have has issues embedded in it, both spoken and unspoken. This activity is taken from the SoundOut Student Voice Curriculum. It can be used to peel the onion of any issue your group is addressing by providing an interactive format for group discussion and examination.
I frequently use different versions of the “Examining Quadrants” activity to facilitate groups as they come to understand different sides of the same issue.
In this activity, participants will conduct an issue analysis of one of the goals they’ve created. 
  1. Divide your large group into small groups of 3-4 participants. 
  2. Start by having participants identify a single issue they care about from your goals. Give them a few minutes to come to consensus.
  3. Ask each group to write that issue across the top of a sheet of flip chart paper. 
  4. Participants should separate that paper into four quadrants by drawing lines along the length and width of the paper.
  5. Give them 5 minutes to brainstorm what some of the positives to working further on this issue are, and writing those in the upper left-hand box. 
  6. Then, have them brainstorm what some of the negatives or challenges are, and take notes in the upper right-hand box. 
  7. Have participants use the lower left-hand box to brainstorm some of the ways this issue can bring people within the group and outside the group together. 
  8. Then use the lower right-hand box to write down some of the ways this issue can divide people. 
  9. Finally, using a different sheet of paper, ask participants to write down their conclusion about whether or not to pursue this issue, and several reasons that support their response. Each group should present their findings to the larger group, and open the floor to critical feedback.
When the group is finished ask participants to reflect as a whole group on what they’ve discovered. If you sense they need reflection prompts, you can use the guidelines of “What, So What, Now What”. If they are open to a wider conversation, open the floor and allow them to go in the direction they’re most inclined.

When they’re finished, you participants will have conducted an issue analysis that’s either in depth or superficial, or some combination therein. Any way it goes, this will give you an opening opportunity to explore more later.


Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Presenting… Seattle Youth Media Camp!

Standing in the projection booth, Sekai stood still and simply scanned around the audience, ease and grace filling her expression. In the meantime, Young hustled and Sun wasn’t there. I was standing mid-audience and Austin was talking to the crowd gathered. Despite the apparent chaos, in that instant it all made sense and everything was awesome.

Understanding Why Youth Media Matters

Last Friday evening was the wrap of the first-ever Seattle Youth Media Camp, a partnership between Seattle Public Schools’s Service Learning Seattle program, Social Moguls, and CommonAction’s The Freechild Project that was funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service Seattle Youth Engagement Zone grant. A meeting of minds and priorities, it was a rarefied space where a convergence of the agendas of service learning, media literacy, STEM, CTE, film making, amounted to social change led by and with young people. You can read my earlier account here.

Making Media

At the end of two weeks of hustling, bustling learning and production, the students premiered a short film they created from the ground up, including conception, acting, directing, supporting, gaffing, laughing, critiquing, scoring, editing, and presenting. These students- who Seattle has grumbled at for more than 15 years- were powerhouses of hope, glaring their brightness into the hot summer evening above I-5.

Their film was witty and deft, making its point and moving on rapidly. Its presentation was relatively smooth, as I subbed in to take the audience taken through my usual paces of humor and progressive learning until I had them exactly where I wanted them. Nobody knew the depths of what was amiss behind the scenes until the very end, and that was okay. It turned out that despite my facilitators’ best intentions, we weren’t fully prepared to show the film in the auditorium where the 50+ audience members were comfortably seated! So we gracefully ushered them into the classroom where the camp edited the film and everything turned out excellently.

Summary

So much of our time- each of us, right now- is taken up worrying and waiting, wondering and hoping. In the meantime the fierce urgency of now is calling for our attention. The Seattle Youth Media Camp presentation reminded me that young people, those who are struggling with the future meeting the present right now, they don’t have the luxury of waiting. Now is their time. Honestly, that’s true for each of us right now, no matter what your age is.

 


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