A group of 15 Boyle Heights youth embarked on something new this summer: filmmaking.
With cameras, audio equipment, and a new set of skills, these youth are capturing topics that affect them and their communities, such as health, environment, fitness and more.
The Boyle Heights Youth Media Team is part of The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities program that works to improve the health in 14 communities in California. The California Endowment also funds Boyle Heights Beat and BoyleHeightsBeat.com.
The youth media program, led by Peace Over Violence Youth Education Coordinator David Valdez, includes high school youth from participating Building a Healthy Boyle Heights Collaborative organizations such as Inner City Struggle, Proyecto Pastoral, Proyecto Jardin, Peace Over Violence, Jovenes Inc., YMCA and the Boyle Heights Technology Youth Center.
“There’s been such negative stigmas on the youth in this community in the past few years,” said Valdez, who was born and raised in East L.A. “This is an opportunity for them to say, ‘here’s my concept, here’s my vision, here’s my voice in Boyle Heights.’ ”
Last week, the Youth Media Team had their first film screening at Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez Learning Center, a local high school, where a number of short public service announcements on food issues and other video projects were shown.
Dianna Martinez, a recent Mendez Learning Center graduate now attending California State University, Los Angeles presented her video “An Oasis in Boyle Heights,” (shown below) which features Proyecto Jardin, a community garden in Boyle Heights. Dianna says it was important to focus on this garden because she wanted to share the comfort it brought her and she noticed not many people knew about it.
“It’s not only a garden,” said Dianna. “It’s a [place] that brings piece of mind”¦ You also learn about being healthy, physically, mentally and spiritually.”
Current participating students have already begun working on new projects that will highlight physical fitness programs in the community. Those videos are slated to be featured on the website of the Los Angeles Unified School District.