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Detroit Impact and Detroit Future Youth: Confronting Youth Violence Through Media Training
On February 25th, youth organization, Detroit Impact partnered with Detroit Future Youth (DFY) to host the third youth network gathering of the year. Detroit Future Youth aims to strengthen and deepen youth social justice organizing in Detroit by partnering with twelve youth programs in that focus on social justice based education and multimedia creation. They host one gathering a month so that each organization in the network can showcase the work that they do. This month’s gathering featured the work of Detroit Impact, an organization that works with community youth to teach, mentor, guide, motivate and encourage them through example and the provision of programs and services designed to elicit their interest. The event started off with what has become the traditional sharing of food, featuring a catered meal from Crab House Ribs & Soul Cafe. During the meal, participants touched bases with each other and got reacquainted again since the last gathering. They then shifted over to a hands on activity called, “Video Rigamarole,” where one person used a video camera to record others in the group acting out a story. The camera was then passed to the next person who then continued the story from their own particular point of view. The activity not only created a space for youth to be "proactive when addressing violence, rather than reactive," as Detroit Impact’s Multimedia Instructor, Keith Young, pointed out, it also encouraged them to be more aware of how media is made and what particular messages media might be targeting youth with. Understanding how youth are targeted by media was a particularly important focus of the activity. Young continued, “The media industry focuses on youth at every level. The cartoons, the rap videos, the food commercials--youth are the up and coming consumers. When youth start making money, they are major consumers. Since media is focusing on youth, we need to focus on media literacy for youth, and help them to discover ways that they can be producers and conscious consumers of media.” As usual, participants of the gathering could be found posting updates on twitter under the #detroitfuture hashtag. Videos created at the gathering will also be edited and then posted on Detroit Impact’s website: detroitmedialeaders.com. One video already made available features youth telling a story about how not to use media, for example, using text messaging to promote a fight happening between students. But even as youth are encouraged to use video making to promote peace and love in their communities rather than violence, the gathering worked to help young people find ways to continue using technology rather than being used by technology. As Young said, “This event helped youth to see that they can use media as a tool, whether it is to organize or get the message out about an event they have going on or to shed a positive light on on something. Youth also learned that they can put these videos together for their commercial benefit.” Future plans for Detroit Impact include a talk show that will be entirely produced, edited and distributed by youth. The shows will be shaped around a survey that Detroit Impact youth created about youth violence that focused on questions like, “Why is this violence happening?” “How is it impacting you?” and “What can be done about it?” The survey results show that youth view the violence in their lives in much different ways than adults or the sensationalistic news media does--and as such, the answers that youth come up with to address that violence will be much different, relevant, and meaningful. The show’s official air-date will be released on Detroit Impact’s website. The next DFY gathering will be hosted by Urban Neighborhood Initiative’s Real Media on March 31st.