Posts filed under ‘Volunteering’
Riley Carney is just 16 years old, but she realized early on the link between literacy and poverty. At 14, she founded Breaking the Chain, an organization that strives to provide educational opportunities for children living in poverty, both in the United States and abroad. Her activism has helped to build two schools in Africa and create a literacy center for children in a battered women’s shelter in her hometown of Englewood, Colo.
Riley, who has raised more than $90,000 for her charitable projects, is a Build-A-Bear Workshop Huggable Heroes finalist. Now in its seventh year, the program recognizes outstanding kids for their contributions and community service by awarding 10 children a $7,500 scholarship each and another $2,500 to donate to their pet charitable causes.
Riley accomplished this by making two different videos to create awareness about literacy, which she showed at her high school/middle school. Also she began selling T-shirts which she designed herself, and by conducting a “jeans day” at school — students paid to wear jeans for the day — and by mailing out a large number of letters to members of the community. Today, her fund-raising efforts, and the two novels she has written, shows how much Riley, and literacyTee has changed the world.
“I’ve always been concerned with the welfare of children, since they can’t advocate for themselves.” says Riley. ” There are so many tragic things that happen to children around the world and they have no control over their own destinies. The cycle of exploitation and poverty can be broken through education, and the most important thing we can do to help children take control over their own lives is to provide them with the ability to read. Because there is a correlation between literacy and poverty, creating literacy opportunities is the key to eradicating poverty and exploitation.”
Teen Philanthropy is on the rise. Youth voice, youth involvement, youth participation, youth-centered programs, community youth development, meaningful youth engagement, youth civic engagement, child-friendly communities… Each of these titles are meant to summarize initiatives that are active, empowering, and democratic experiences for young people as they create change in their own lives, as well as the lives of others in the organizations, institutions, and communities they belong to. Stories such as Riley’s are not only inspiring, but prove that big change is possible.
The Grand Prize judging for the 2nd Annual Young Minds Digital Times competition is currently underway. The contest has seen so many fantastic films from all over the country and choosing who will walk away with the coveted prize is no easy task.
Our expert judges have viewed, critiques, and weighed in on their choices, but who are these judges? What do they know that makes them perfect for this task? It comes down to experience and the desire to give encouragement to these young filmmakers.
Let’s take a closer look at a few of our judges – they come from all areas in the field and have different points of view on what makes a film great….
Dano Johnson – Dano Johnson began his love of creating educational and entertaining content while at the University of Texas at Austin’s Student Television Station. His career includes an internship at Sesame Workshop, and creating his own production company, Collection Agency Films, developing animated content. In fact, you can vote for one of his animation NOW to get on Sesame Street (your change to vote ends May 10th).
His web cartoon ads for “Kinky Friedman” earned a Telly advertising award, while his short film ‘Tall Tales & Other Big Lies’ won runner-up for best animation at SXSW 2006. His music video for the New York Dolls song, “Dance Like a Monkey,” won best music video at the 2006 Bradford Animation Festival. He most recently co-directed and animated ‘Flatland: The Movie‘, starring Martin Sheen, Michael York, and Kristen Bell.
Ivy Koehler – During her years in college, Ivy began to explore the growing world of video blogging by creating projects that would be an outlet for creativity and a true form of art that had the potential to reach the masses. She also performed in several plays and musicals which led to a job with i Entertainment, an inventive event company that houses an improv and murder mystery team. Currently, Ivy works at the Music Hall at Fair Park in their public relations and marketing departments as well as living the life of a “starving” actor. Through benefit concerts and performance-based fundraisers, Ivy believes that philanthropic opportunities are around every corner and loves to take part in socially conscience organizations. “[This competition] looks like the most incredible opportunity for kids not only to do something outside of the classroom to stay busy, but to truly learn what it means to create something. Speaking of creativity! These are so professionally done! Oh my gosh. Unbelievable. “
Lodge McCammon – Dr. Lodge McCammon is a Specialist in Curriculum and Contemporary Media at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. He developed a teaching and professional development process called FIZZ which encourages and models best practices in implementing user-generated video in the classroom to enhance standards- based lessons. He is also a studio composer and musician who writes standards-based songs, with supporting materials, about advanced curriculum for K-12 classrooms. “[Filmmaking] is exceptionally difficult to do … so kudos to all for the attempt.”
Laura Nemesi – Laura Nemesi has made a name for herself as a Art Department Assistant and Costumer on such shows as HBO’s “Sex in the City”, “Lipstick Jungle” and the upcoming drama series “Boardwalk Empire”. “I liked the very different styles chosen by the different students and differing approaches. It was nice as well to hear from students on the subject of their own education.”
Meredith Sires – Meredith Sires is the Managing Editor of Ypulse.com, an award-winning blog for youth media and marketing professionals that has been featured in several leading publications including USA Today, Business Week, Forbes and Fast Company. Previously, Meredith worked as an associate at a New York-based book publishing consulting firm where she worked with a range of clients from traditional publishing houses to transmedia studios. It was there that she began researching the media habits of teens and tweens and the potential for extending the reading experience online. “I loved how all [of these films] do something completely different with their storytelling. Although there were different degrees of success with using both elements to show and tell a story at the same time, it seems like it allowed each to take their films to a fun, new place.”
Raynor Herrera – With his Freeform Music Video, Wake Up, Raynor Herrera of Miami Coral Park Senior High, Miami, Florida claimed the Young Minds Digital Times Grand Prize in 2008. Herrera utilized stop-motion filmmaking to create his intriguing visuals which made the other judges stand up and take attention. “Being the grand prize winner for the competition last year and a young filmmaker myself I can definitely say that I am very impressed by the amount of talent and work that all these videos displayed. It’s amazing how in its second year this competition has blown up to include so many talented kids from so many schools. I wish them all good luck!”
We all wish every student the best of luck in the competition, and are eager to see the results. Thanks to our many judges, some of which are highlighted above, more creative opportunities are opening up for our youth. Thank you judges!
Across the United States and around the globe, young people have joined a movement of mutual respect and human dignity called Spread the Word to End the Word. The goal: get people to stop and think about their hurtful and disparaging use of the word “retard” and pledge to stop using it.
Spread the Word to End the Word was created by youth with and without intellectual disabilities who participated in the Special Olympics Global Youth Activation Summit at the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games. The motivation for the campaign was driven by a united passion to promote the positive contributions people with intellectual disabilities make to communities around the world combined with a simple call to action – a pledge to stop using a word – that also symbolizes positive attitude change and a commitment to make the world a more accepting place for all people.
We found that almost all youth have heard the r-word and most have heard it used by a friend or a student at school. We also found that youth react differently to the r-word if it is directed at a person with a disability or if a friend says the word.
Half of youth (51%) said that they felt bad or sorry for the person being picked. Some responded that they either laughed or didn’t care when they heard the r-word and many (39%) said that they did nothing. Some youth (33%) took a stand and told the person it was wrong to say the r-word.
What YOU Can Do
Join he cause and the Spread the Word to End the Word’s Project UNIFY movement in schools around the U.S. Motivate your friends to get involved with a variety of fun youth activities. You can even contribute five minutes to take the Spread the Word to End the Word pledge.
Get in the game by joining Special Olympics Unified Sports®, where people with and without intellectual disabilities train and compete together on the same team.
Know someone with an intellectual disability? Refer them to a Special Olympics program nearby, and for more information, go to http://www.specialolympics.org/.
Today marks the ten year anniversary of the tragic Columbine High School shootings. At OneSeventeen Media, we have all paused in our work today to remember the lives that were lost that day and to think of the countless families affected by this violence. This anniversary also renews our call to action to provide kids with the tools they need to effectively work through social-emotional stresses of growing up without turning to violence.
I’d been very interested in a promo for this afternoon’s Oprah show detailing what lead to the tragedy, but late yesterday I received an email announcing a schedule change from Oprah.com, and this morning Oprah’s Facebook Fan Page and Twitter both announced her decision.
While I have wanted to see what her show had to say, I consider her decision a compassionate one, and I do hope at some point she will choose to share the episode to help us all better understand what lead to such a tragedy.
Today’s anniversary also coincides with the beginning of National Volunteer Week 2009. In honor of the young people lost on April 20, 1999, consider volunteering your time to begin mentoring tweens and teens to build the valuable, caring relationships that help kids grow into caring adults. One of the biggest ways to stand up to violence is to take action out of love to invest yourself in the young people of your community.
At OneSeventeen Media, we always love a great story of teenage triumph with technology, and Lexington, Massachusetts’s Danny Moraff does not disappoint. As an ambitious, 15-year-old transportation enthusiast, Moraff spent 100 hours of his free time mapping Lexington’s public transportation system and coding his data for integration with Google Transit.
Moraff’s incredible service puts Lexington’s modest public transportation system far ahead of many larger cities only beginning to consider their strategy for utilizing Google Transit. You can see an example of his work in the Google Transit screen shot above. Not only is Moraff an impressive young man because of his tech-know-how, but he’s also provided an incredible public service to the people of Lexington. Hats off to Moraff, and I’d venture to guess this is not the last we’ll be hearing of him! (Thanks to Ypulse for sharing Moraff’s story!)
(Top image found here)
Every time news breaks of another premature teen death, school shooting, or violent hate crime all of us at OneSeventeen Media cringe and ask, “Could we have prevented that?”
Eliminating youth violence and providing kids the resources to be heard and make better decisions requires all of us working together and taking on the responsibility of acting independently to impact youth. Instead of blaming different programs, or the lack there of, the question needs to be, “What can I do to make a difference?” At OneSeventeen Media, we’ve decided to make our life’s work answering this question through our products. The center of our mission in designing PlumbBrain is to create a community to support tweens and teens in the really complicated process of growing up.
What we’ve learned through our research is that youth are significantly less likely to drop out of school or act out violently if they feel they have a meaningful relationship with an adult in their lives. Be that adult. If you’re a teacher, reach out to a student on the edge with kindness, if you’re outside of the classroom volunteer to mentor and build that relationship with a child who needs you or even just seek out quality time with a kid you already know. Particularly look out for kids who aren’t necessarily the dynamic ones with great people skills and easy to engage, but they are the ones who most need our attention and our time. The Boys and Girls Clubs of America is a great place to start if you’re looking to get involved.
The long term impact of positive attention from a mentor most clearly sticks out to me in a story about my mom (Dr. Susan Keehn, pictured on left) and one of her 2nd grade students, “Alex.” Alex and I were in 2nd grade at the same time, and he was in my mom’s class. Alex was a hellion. Never in my mom’s 30+ year career had there been, or was there ever, a student who gave her as much grief. I’d known him since kindergarten, and I’d already figured out he was an angry kid you steered clear of at all times. However, my mom was not as easily deterred by Alex’s behavioral call for help. Much to my young dismay, he became a regular fixture in our minivan for trips to the park, cookie baking sessions and museum visits. In small groups Alex did really well, but it didn’t stop him from still being a classroom terror come Monday morning.
While Alex’s behavior improved slightly, he still struggled to control himself. When his second grade year ended, my mom felt a mix of relief and failure that she wasn’t able to make more of an impact on Alex’s life. He moved and Mama and I changed schools in the next year, we simply lost track of Alex in the system. We’d occasionally hear tidbits about him, usually indicating he was just further down the slippery slope evident in his second grade behavior.
When Alex and I should have both been in 10th grade, my mom got a call from juvenile detention, where he was incarcerated for gang violence, asking her to come out for an intervention, at Alex’s request. She was one of “the only two people who ever cared about him in his life”– his grandma, and his second grade teacher.
Mom went and participated, but without any real resolution. I don’t know where Alex is today, but while his story might not have a happy ending, the lasting impact of my mom’s experience with him is my understanding of the power of mentoring and relationship building. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s absolutely necessary. Imagine how Alex’s story could have been different if he’d been shown along the way that more adults cared about him. Make the decision to be one of those adults for an Alex in your life.
This is a hopeful piece I saw in the Boston Globe, “Youths propel a push toward volunteerism.” Teenagers are volunteering in unprecedented numbers, and among the many doom and gloom reports about the future of today’s youth, I think this makes outstanding news!
American teenagers today are 100 percent more likely to volunteer than teenagers in the last few decades, federal research shows. A record 68 percent of K-12 schools offer or recognize service opportunities for students, according to a study by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a government agency, which also reports a 69 percent increase in applications to the AmeriCorps program over the last four years. A survey by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute found that two-thirds of students entering college in 2006 felt that helping others in need was essential or very important, the highest rate in 26 years.