The project started by asking one simple question: what images of everyday life would we see if Surrey youth could control the cameras, and tell their own stories?
As gangs and guns continued to make headlines, an innovative pilot project at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) began giving Surrey youth the skills to take the headlines back, and create their own stories about the experiences of young people living, learning and playing in the city.
High school students in Grades 8-12 at Princess Margaret Secondary will screen the digital stories they developed through KPU’s Visual Media Workshop, with the support of peer mentors and digital storytelling instructors at the university.
“Mass media images of youth life in Surrey are stereotypical. They reduce everyday life in Surrey to gang violence, youth victimization, and cultural and religious conflicts,” said Katie Warfield, director of the Visual Media Workshop. “This is not the everyday reality of the youth we are working with. Their lives are rich and vibrant and they have incredible stories to tell.”
As part of the DigitalLENS club, 13 students learned narrative and storytelling, editing, and audio and video recording skills over several months. On May 11, as many films exploring narrative and identity, community and care, and passion and talent will be screened at the KPU Surrey Conference Centre from 6-8 p.m. The screening event is $10 per ticket and open to the public.
“The goal of the program is to teach digital literacy to young people. By putting cameras in the hands of youth, they'll have the power to be able to challenge the mass media representation of youth life in Surrey,” added Warfield.
The project is in part supported by the TELUS Vancouver Community Board, which donated $15,000 to the Visual Media Workshop at KPU.