Seattle Youth Media Camp

Participants from the 2012 Seattle Youth Media Camp.

Last spring I started exploring the possibilities for Freechild to get involved with a youth-led program this summer. In April, I struck a partnership with Social Moguls, a program created and led by Sekai Senwosret, CommonAction’s vice-president. She connected me to What’s Good 206, a youth-led video program that created regular features for YouTube. I provided a training for the What’s Good 206 staff and crew, and we formed a partnership.

Shortly after making that connection, in May I negotiated a special expansion of the partnership CommonAction has with Seattle Public Schools. Working with their Service Learning Seattle coordinator, Lois Brewer, our three organizations birthed the concept of the 2012 Seattle Youth Media Camp. We decided to reinforce the mission of Cleveland High School, which is my favorite school in Seattle.

Focused on STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics), the school’s almost 700 students are almost all African American and Asian, with only a 4% white student population. Its the most obvious outcome of segregated public schools in Seattle. In spite of almost 100% of the school’s teachers meeting federal guidelines as “highly qualified”, the school consistently scores abysmally on standardized tests. The school is on Washington’s list of “persistently lowest-achieving schools.” The list goes on from there, with media smearing the school for not responding to injections of money or support from the district, state, and feds.

Because of all this, I decided Cleveland is an excellent location for our youth-led education approach. Working with college-age facilitators from Widescreen Eye Films, the Seattle Youth Media Camp is in week two of action. In our 10-day program at the school, we’re teaching students about critical media literacy, teambuilding, action planning, and film production. Service learning is weaved throughout the entirety of the program, along with self-identity, community connections, and more. The students are designing, writing, filming, editing, and presenting their own film to the community this Friday.

This represents a convergence of CommonAction’s main youth outreach programs, The Freechild Project and SoundOut. Presenting the changing roles of young people throughout society as an approach to programming in a school setting, the Seattle Youth Media Camp combines engaging youth in social change with practical classroom learning goals. We’re excited, honored, and hopeful about the future of this work, and I look forward to reporting more soon.

Adam’s Note: Much love and respect to all the folks involved with operating the 2012 Seattle Youth Media Camp, including Austin Williams, Alyssa Piraino, Sun Kim, Young Ho Kim, Sekai Senwosret, and Lois Brewer! Thanks for having me on board y’all!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *